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Smith to Develop Gen. Ed. Courses with Faculty

FAS Dean Michael Smith
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said he will work with faculty to develop new courses as students wait for the postponed Program in General Education requirements to take effect.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote in an email to students last month that the new system of General Education requirements will be rolled out in 2019 instead of 2018 as originally planned. In an interview last month, administrative director of the General Education program Stephanie H. Kenen said that designing the program’s new courses “is taking longer than we thought it might.”

The new program will replace one that is “failing on a variety of fronts,” according to a 2015 report on the General Education program. Current freshmen and sophomores will graduate under the new requirements but may use current General Education courses to fulfill their requirements.

Smith said in an interview Wednesday that his role has focused on recruiting faculty to teach these new General Education courses. He said he is looking for faculty who will be able to tap into the conversations that students have in the dining halls and bring them to the classroom.

“One of the first things I'm looking for is a faculty member that can take a subject matter and make sure that they're starting out with something that grabs your attention as undergraduates,” Smith said.

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Smith also said he will seek faculty who will ask students to “engage in the world.”

“I want this to be an active learning discussion, and not passive,” Smith said. He added that the best outcome for a General Education course would be one that takes advantage of the “diversity across our student body.”

With new courses, Smith said that he hopes to find more chances for interdisciplinary developments. He said he is open to the idea of faculty from different divisions co-teaching in the new General Education courses.

“I think it's an opportunity for us to teach across disciplinary boundaries and these topics lend themselves tremendously to, if it hasn't already, at least two or three areas,” Smith said. “So how can we enable that?”

The new General Education program requires students to take one class in each of four categories: Aesthetics & Culture; Histories, Societies, Individuals; Science & Technology in Society; and Ethics & Civics. Students will also need to fulfill three divisional requirements in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences or SEAS, and an additional course that “demonstrates quantitative faculty.”

Smith also said that the details surrounding the quantitative requirement have yet to be specified.

“Personally, I don't worry too much about the categories,” Smith said. “It's not how I'm approaching the curriculum.”

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at angela.fu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22

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