New core curriculum to debut this fall semester

Posted on January 26, 2014

newtowers copyErskine’s 2012-17 Strategic Plan called for the creation of “a coherent and compelling core curriculum for the college.”

Assisted by other faculty and staff members, the Core Curriculum Development Committee (CCDC) at Erskine College has submitted and received approval for a new core curriculum to be implemented in the fall semester of 2014.

The new curriculum divides general education courses—now designated “the core curriculum” at Erskine and other institutions—into foundation courses and formation courses.

“For years, ‘gen ed’ was viewed as something to get out of the way in order to move on to the more important major,” CCDC chairman Dr. Sandra Chaney said. “Now, higher education is stressing the complementarity of core courses and the major.”

In foundation courses, “students develop essential skills and knowledge about God, humanity, and nature,” Chaney said.

The choice of courses that can meet foundation requirements is limited, she said, and many will look the same, “such as those for Bible, composition, foreign language, mathematics, sciences, and so forth,” though some requirements have been “reframed, providing a clearer, more compelling rationale for them.”

At the formation level, “the new core offers more choice in the courses that students may take,” Chaney said. “Students continue to hone vital communication and logical reasoning skills and develop knowledge through discipline-specific perspectives, but they go further in integrating critical analysis, problem-solving, and morals and ethics.”

Other changes brought into play with the new core curriculum include a required contemporary global issues course; a retooling of the school and community health course to include physical activities; a spiritual formation requirement that can be met by a traditional or winter term course or through service learning; and the expansion of courses meeting the creative and performing arts requirement.

“This has been a huge project for the faculty,” Chaney said. “We really could not have completed our work without our colleagues’ responses, and they were generous with their time and ideas.”