By Audrey Barrett
The lengthy process of reconfiguring the General Education requirements at Lewis & Clark is drawing to a close. Faculty members met on April 17 to discuss the final curriculum proposals, which involve options for both future Core and distribution requirements. The goal is to make LC’s curriculum more reflective of its identity statement, which values global awareness and involvement.
According to the report sent out to the faculty, these changes will foster the faculty resolution to “prioritize diversification of the curriculum with respect to underrepresented identities, histories, and experiences in the upcoming process of reviewing and revising the College’s first-year and general education requirements.”
“That (current plan) came up through this process of consensus building and looking at the models,” Associate Professor of Anthropology Oren Kosansky said. “We still haven’t spoken much about humanities and historical perspectives, and that’s fine, it’s just how the discussion goes.”
The first option for the future of Exploration and Discovery is a one semester “Words” class requirement, focusing on critical reading, discussion and writing skills, much like the class currently does. This first option would also mean that there would be an additional Quantitative Reasoning requirement in the distribution section.
The second option would be a one semester “Words” core as well as a one semester “Numbers” core, which would focus on quantitative reasoning and critical analysis of numerical data. If the “Numbers” core were implemented, there would be no additional Quantitative Reasoning requirement.
One critical factor in deciding whether to institute a Numbers section of Core is the available staff.
“I think the challenge is whether we can staff (the Numbers core) robustly,” Associate Professor of Geological Science Elizabeth Safran said. “I think that one aim, among others, in the first year experiences to make connections with faculty and establish some of those relations that are so important to one’s experience.”
At present, LC can staff 90 percent of Words core sections with long-term faculty, but only 50 percent of Numbers sections are projected to be staffed with long-term faculty, even with a slightly higher enrollment cap than the Words classes. The General Education Steering Committee acknowledged the possibility of hiring faculty to work specifically in the Numbers core. Alternately, quantitative reasoning education could be fulfilled through a distribution requirement where students take existing classes across departments, the way it currently is done.
The second decision involves structuring requirements for the distribution of other general education courses. After compiling ideas from many models, the committee agreed to include requirements for four credits each of Natural Sciences, Creative and Literary Arts, Global Contexts, proficiency in a world language, and Cultural Difference and Power.
The area of disagreement regarding the distribution requirements is whether to have a Humanities or a Historical Perspectives requirement. The Humanities requirement would involve critical interpretation of texts, ideas or subjective human experience in a historical framework, while the Historical Perspectives option would entail the critical analysis of historical contexts prior to the contemporary period.
During the faculty meeting on May 1, these disagreements will have to be resolved and the general education requirements finalized.