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Students and Faculty Weigh Options for Gen Ed Overhaul

By Melissa C. Rodman, Crimson Staff Writer

Following Tuesday’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences discussion about the future of the College’s General Education program, faculty members and undergraduates continued the conversation on Wednesday at the last Committee on Undergraduate Education meeting of the semester.

In town hall meetings over the month leading up to Tuesday’s FAS meeting, the Gen Ed review committee vetted tentative proposals for significantly lowering the number of courses required by the program and changing its quantitative reasoning requirement. A spring interim report from that committee deemed the program “failing on a variety of fronts.”

On Wednesday, faculty and students discussed another option for the revamped program, according to Undergraduate Council representative Scott Ely ’18, who attended the meeting. That option would require students to take four courses that might resemble Gen Ed courses and three distribution requirements in each of the College’s three divisions—Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts and Humanities—and one mathematics-based course, he said.

Paul Bamberg, a senior lecturer on Mathematics, questioned whether streamlining the program would increase enrollment numbers in certain courses to the detriment of other classes.

If the revamped Gen Ed program required students to meet certain distribution requirements that overlapped with concentration requirements, for example, many students may gravitate to the same courses to “kill two requirements with one course,” Bamberg said.

Other considerations discussed at Wednesday’s meeting included the transition process for students whose plans of study depend on the Gen Ed program as it now stands, Ely said.

Stephanie H. Kenen, the director of the Program in General Education who attended the meeting, afterward declined to comment on the Gen Ed transition, calling it “premature because we don’t know what the final proposal is going to look like” in an email.

Ely said he feels “generally positive” about what the administrators discussed and that his ongoing goal is to make sure that the UC’s Education Committee will have more input in the transition process.

Following the Gen Ed discussion, CUE meeting attendees talked about joint concentrations and their mandated theses and the possibility of counting for credit certain one-credit or two-credit courses, Ely said.

Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris did not respond to a request for comment.

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.

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