Kansas universities cutting back on general education courses
Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas universities are reducing general education requirements to ensure more students can graduate on time and create more room for classes in their majors.
Wichita State University became the latest school to slash the numbers of general ed classes its undergraduates are required to take.
Schools are hoping students can learn skills such as ethical reasoning from an engineering course by scrapping philosophy and history requirements in favor of specific goals.
But, KCUR-AM reported, some liberal arts professors warn the change will remove an essential aspect of what a university education offers — a widespread knowledge of the world that extends beyond what’s taught in their major.
“Our students will be less competitive, less prepared for the world that they enter when they leave here,” Wichita State University associate sociology professor Chase Billingham said at the faculty vote.
Wichita State’s general education cuts were largely spurred by a Kansas Board of Regents mandate to reduce credit hours.
Fine arts and engineering faculty at Wichita State protested that they already slashed as many classes as they could and were still above the credit limit. It’s why they believed general ed cuts should make up the rest.
Wichita State voice professor Pina Mozzani said core courses “already have been cut to the bone.”
“Our students are going out impoverished in their own area,” she said.
Wichita State could take a page from Kansas State by ditching the classic university model in which students take specific subjects offered by specialized departments, and instead have them focus on concepts.
In 2012, Kansas State overhauled its general education program and the University of Kansas made a similar change a year later. Kansas State students are still required to take some liberal arts courses.
Kansas State is still evaluating the effects of the changes, but the university noted it’s seen positive early results.
Elsewhere, Fort Hays State University is considering allowing some major classes to count toward general education, though its focus is slashing credits. Pittsburg State University reduced general education credit this year, while Emporia State University is also trying to do the same.