Q1. Why do this?
A. After new Student Learning Outcomes were passed by Faculty Senate in 2011, GERC was charged with developing a General Education curriculum. Over the past several years, faculty on the General Education Revitalization Committee (GERC), in consultation with faculty across UAF, have created aDRAFT curricular outline for General Education.
Q: How will students know if they are taking classes that satisfy a new Learning Outcome?
A. Courses that may be used to satisfy Learning Outcomes 1 and 2, which will also satisfy some of the skills-based GERs, will have numbers ending with X: for example, English F111X, Communication F141X, Mathematics 103X. Many courses will also carry a Q attribute, for Quantitative Reasoning. Both upper and lower-division courses can satisfy Outcome 3 provided these courses have new attributes attached:
A–Alaska and Arctic Issues
D–Intercultural Competence & Diversity
Q: Can students satisfy new requirements and BOR/GERs within the current 39-credit minimum established by the current Core Curriculum? Will it be possible to do so in less than 39 credits? Will it be possible for AA degree-seeking students to satisfy at least some of the new requirements too? Will these changes expand the range of choice available to students–i.e. can we make them less restrictive than the Core?
A: Yes to all of the above, if colleges, departments and faculty from all of UAF can identify or modify existing courses and/or are willing to develop new courses that satisfy both BOR GERs and qualify for an A, D or E attribute.
Q: What would such courses look like?
A: They would have to: 1) Have the basic characteristics required by BOR policy for a category of the Common Core of General Education Requirements (see below) and 2) meet the requirements for carrying a A, D or E attributes as described above.
Hypothetical 1: ENGL 217, Themes in Literature, seems like a natural choice to be both a BOR humanities GER and carry a D attribute, providing the description specifies that literature from a variety of cultures is examined from multiple perspectives.
Hypothetical 2: PS 202, Democracy and Global Society, JUST 110, Introduction to Justice, and NRM 101, Natural Resources Conservation and Policy may already satisfy BOR requirements for a social science GER. With the addition of a project in which students analyze or contribute to a relevant organization or activity they could merit an E attribute.
Hypothetical 3: GEOS 212, Geology of Alaska, although not a lab science, seems like a natural choice to carry the A attribute. While GEOS 101X, The Dynamic Earth, and GEOS 120X, Glaciers, Earthquakes and Volcanoes, already qualify as GERs and both contain sufficient Alaska/Arctic content to carry the A attribute as well.
Hypothetical 4: (With a little tweaking for some) it is likely that most of the currently offered “X’ courses under “Perspectives’ would continue to qualify as BOR humanities, arts, or social science GERs and could take on a D, E or A attribute.
Hypothetical 5: Numerous upper division courses, taken for major and minor requirements or as upper division electives would currently qualify for one or more attribute, or could be revised, if departments and faculty so desired, to carry one. For example, most courses offered by ANS and ANL and many GEOG, ANTH, SOC and PS classes could take on a D attribute. Several GEOS, BIOL and MSL classes could carry the A attribute.
Q: Who would offer such courses?
A: Essentially, that decision rests with the faculty, department heads, deans and directors based on their own assessments of their programs’ needs and interests. For courses that would carry an attribute and satisfy BOR requirements for humanities, arts and social sciences most, but not all, of the responsibility falls on the College of Liberal Arts. Courses given by NRM, RD, MIN, MILS, etc., could qualify too.
Faculty will need to receive a clear set of BOR requirements for qualifying courses, and participate in establishing specific requirements for each of the new attributes. Then they will have to decide which courses they would like to submit for the dual distinction of being a BOR/GER and carrying a new attribute. In short, many colleges, departments and programs already offer courses that could do double duty (GER and attribute) and/or would be highly motivated to find ways to create new opportunities to add attributes to their courses.
Q. What about the Ethics Requirement?
A. The new GER understands Ethics as an Outcome. See “Civic Engagement.”
Q. What about that C attribute? Doesn’t that mean that students will no longer get to refine their writing and oral communication skills in their major?
A. Not at all. The C attribute modernizes the existing Os and Ws. It recognizes that communication happens in a variety of forms including written, visual, and/or oral varieties. The C provides more curricular space for upper-division faculty to use active learning techniques in their design of assignments that help undergraduates develop into effective communicators of their discipline, without the narrower focus of “W’ or “O’ requirements.
Q. What is the “Communication’ attributed course supposed to do?
A. The Communication attributed course would leave up to faculty to decide how they wish to emphasize their discipline’s communication methods. Some faculty may choose to address oral, written, and visual components in a single assignment; however, other faculty may emphasize one or two of these. The requirement does not dictate that all communication varieties must be taught in the course. These courses should further students’ work with a range of audiences.
Q. Who would determine which courses received which Attributes? How?
A. The process should be a matter for faculty self-governance and decided by the faculty as the GE revitalization process moves forward. One model might involve, a process similar to the one currently used to review courses for the Core Curriculum. Departments and program would submit existing, revised or new classes for consideration first to their college’s Curricular Affairs committees and then to one of a new set of committees of the Faculty Senate comprised of faculty with the subject and/or skills-related competence related to a specific Attribute.