Faculty Senate proposes ‘Bucket List’ of new core requirements

Zack Sherman / Sun Star

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On Feb. 8, the UAF Faculty Senate released the proposed list of courses for the new undergraduate General Education Requirements (GER) beginning at UAF in the fall of 2016. The lists are part of what the Senate has the deemed the “Bucket System.”

The new program allows for students to choose from a total of 69 classes among three required subsections to complete the same 15 credit hours. By contrast the current GER program, Perspectives on the Human Condition, consists of 15 credit hours of coursework, with only a handful of choices among its 12 required classes. Both programs require students to select one ethics class from a list of six choices.

Under the new requirements, students will need to complete at least three credits from the 12 approved arts classes, at least three credits from the nine approved humanities courses or 22 languages classes, and six or more credits from the 22 approved social sciences courses from at least two different disciplines. These requirements fall directly in line with the UA Board of Regents’ policy regarding general education requirements.

“The Board of Regents’ intent is to homogenize the GERs” Professor Rainer Newberry said, regarding the board’s move to align the GERs among the three UA campuses in May 2015.

A comparison of the current UAA GER course list and the new UAF list shows a distinct difference in how each campus identifies history courses. Anchorage lists all of the qualifying GER history courses within humanities, while Fairbanks places the courses within the social sciences. The differences are what derailed the original committee assembled to unify the core.

“This has been a three-year work in progress,” Faculty Senate President Debu Misra said. “We had to do something to align with the (UA) policies, we couldn’t wait on Anchorage to agree.”

The Curricular Affairs Committee, CAC, provided guidelines for courses to be considered within each of the three groupings.  To be included courses must be 100 or 200-level, may not contain any prerequisites aside for English 111X (excluding foreign language courses), should not discourage non-majors, and must be offered at least once per year.

Courses will be designated in future catalogs to indicate if they satisfy arts, humanities, or social science requirements. Arts courses must concern a visual or performing art and must lack emphasis on skills acquisition.

“I wish they could have released this list sooner,” Skyla Powers, a sophomore studying social work, said. “I could have taken something I would have enjoyed.”

While members of the faculty did raise concerns during the meeting about class sizes, Jennie Carroll, Chair of the CAC, indicated that there are currently no plans to increase enrollment limits for any of the new required courses.

“Only Students entering in for the new catalog year would be eligible for this,” Carroll said. She noted that current students wishing to switch to the new GERs would need to change their catalog year with Registrar’s office.

“If I can work with my adviser to make it fit, I would make the change,” James Gilchrest, a 21-year-old junior, said about changing to the 2016-2017 catalog.

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