Proposed course requirements for CLAS students would still require foreign language, lab experience, but no Western Civ
KU's new Core Curriculum, as it will be presented to freshmen starting in the fall, is taking its final form right now. It will apply to all undergraduates, but KU's individual schools also are figuring out what kinds of general-education requirements they might like to have above and beyond the roughly 36 credit hours' worth that will be in the Core.
That includes KU's biggest school, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Faculty and some student representatives in the College will be voting soon to establish requirements for its biggest degree track, the Bachelor of Arts. That's according to a letter distributed last month by Danny Anderson, the dean of the CLAS. He also included some proposed requirements from a committee.
Students seeking a BA currently have 72 credit hours' worth of general-education requirements. That's well more than half of the 120 hours required for a bachelor's degree, and a figure commonly cited by KU leaders as way out of line with other universities.
The proposed new requirements for the BA would require a maximum of 56 credit hours' worth of gen-ed courses, but most students wouldn't actually need to take that many (more on that below). It would include three additional requirements beyond those that will apply to all undergrads, as Anderson suggested when he told me late last year that the College would still be giving students a well-rounded liberal arts education.
Those extra requirements include an extra "quantitative" course beyond the one required by the Core; four semesters' worth of proficiency in a foreign language; and a laboratory or field experience, such as a laboratory science course, that will give students experience doing scientific work. Those all echo similar existing requirements for the BA.
Students probably won't have to take all 56 hours, according to the proposal, because they may use transfer or Advanced Placement credits, use some courses to fill more than one requirement, test out of some foreign language courses if they took some classes in high school, etc.
As you may note, those proposed requirements do not include the Western Civilization sequence currently required for a BA from the College. We reported a while back that Western Civ would likely no longer be universally required.
The College will likely vote on those new requirements sometime in the next week, CLAS communications director Kristi Henderson told me.
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I met Tuesday with KU's dean of liberal arts and sciences, Danny Anderson, to learn more about where the College of Liberal Arts of Sciences will be going in 2013 and where it stands on revamping its curriculum for next fall.
You can expect to read more on both of those subjects soon, but I thought I'd share one piece of the conversation now that might be of interest to a lot of folks.
After we reported this fall that KU's two-semester Western Civilization sequence will likely no longer be required for every student seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree from the CLAS, it prompted consternation in some corners. The Western Civ program is obviously important to a lot of folks. One guest column from a former KU student body president worried it was an indication that KU would become a "glorified trade school."
But Anderson told me Tuesday that a well-rounded liberal-arts-and-sciences education is not on the way out.
Yes, KU officials have said they want to reduce the general-education load on students; right now for a BA from the College, they need to take 70-plus credit hours' worth of gen-ed courses, which those officials say is pretty seriously out of whack compared with other similar universities.
So the new Core curriculum, which will be the first ever to apply to all KU undergraduates in any school, will require only about 36 hours of general education. And you can see from the list of classes already approved that students will have a range of options for each of its 12 required units.
But at the same time that university-wide effort is going on, the College is considering its own degree requirements. That's pretty significant, as about two-thirds of all KU undergrads are in the College. The aim is still a more streamlined general-education experience, but students seeking a BA will likely still have some additional requirements for the sake of a well-rounded education, he said.
What those additional requirements might be is still being sorted out, so he couldn't provide many details. But he said laboratory science courses and foreign languages were two areas being discussed. More broadly, he said the College will aim to produce students with some knowledge of science, familiarity with Western heritage but also the rest of the world, mathematical skills and more.
Overall, he said the goal will be to "prepare the whole person." We'll keep you updated as things come more clearly into focus, likely in the middle of the spring semester.