Revising the baccalaureate core

Shaun Nesheim/Sun Star Reporter
December 4, 2012

The UAF baccalaureate core is being revised by the faculty. They want the core to allow students more flexible choices in how students fulfill the requirements.

Professor of Political Economy Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg heads the General Education Revitalization Committee. The committee is examining the baccalaureate core looking for ways to revise the 20 year old model and modifying it into something that flows with what professors believe should be included for a “well-rounded education” as desired by the Board of Regents.

“I think those are all really important things to have,” said geography major Anastasia Brease. Jeremy Larson, a senior in communications said, “I don’t have too much problem with the current core.”

“There has been, over the years, a good bit of feedback, both positive and negative, about the core. One of the things that we’ve heard a lot is that it’s too restrictive, or that it’s too much in terms of number of credits,” said Rosenberg. He said they had also heard “discussions about whether the core, as it’s being delivered really satisfies… the desired outcomes for student learning,” according to Rosenberg.

“If they didn’t have as much of a credit requirement, you wouldn’t have to take the classes that you don’t want to take,” Larson said.

There is strong support for the idea that the revised core maintains the basic structure with unanimously agreed competencies such as composition and computation. It should have more flexibility and choice for the students, showed a poll that compiled comments and concerns of the core requirements from UAF faculty members.

“The students should have a greater choice in how they [have experience in broader learning outcomes] in terms of the coursework, so our job is to structure those choices,” Rosenberg said.

A large amount of effort is being focused on the section of the core entitled “Perspectives on Human Condition,” which is comprised of both humanities and social-science based courses. The current discussion is aimed at more emphasis on the idea of “social systems and the natural world,” which might included new components such as civic engagement, cultural diversity, or a form of capstone experience into the new model.

“The students should have a greater choice in how they [acquire experience in desired competencies] in terms of the coursework, so our job is to structure those choices.”

“I’ve taken a lot of classes that I wasn’t interested in and weren’t important to me, and I didn’t get as much out of them,” Brease said.

Before the end of the current academic year, the committee will have completed a structured model of the new requirements for the baccalaureate core. Afterward, they will look for student input to include it into the process and the proposal.

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