Salisbury University may soon be getting a general education overhaul.
SU is currently in the process of potentially updating its general education program with a completely new model recently proposed by the university's general education steering committee.
The new model will first be presented to the Faculty Senate for a vote of approval on Tuesday, and then, if passed by the senate, sent to an all-faculty vote to determine whether it will officially be implemented.
The proposed model, which has one fewer course than SU’s current general education program's total, still meets all state requirements, while also adjusting certain category areas to correspond more with SU’s student learning outcomes.
Dr. Karen Olmstead, SU’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said that the altered areas include three categories of courses that are “[signatures] of an SU education” which are not “stand-alone” and may fit into other categories as well. There will also be an “experiential learning component” that students will take as upperclassmen if the proposal passes.
“Those four things, in addition to these distributional requirements, really capture what an SU education should be all about,” Olmstead said.
The three “signature” additions are single-course requirements in the areas of civic and community engagement, diversity and inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Olmstead said that incoming freshmen and transfer students alike would be required to complete a “first-year seminar” under the new model.
Olmstead and other proponents for the change believe that the categories proposed will be more compelling to students and allow for coursework that is unique and tailored to each individual.
These courses also have more descriptive titles in comparison to those currently being used, such as “Group 1” and “Group 2.”
While the all-faculty vote may be as soon as early April, it will take time for SU to make this shift in curriculum requirements.
Dr. Thomas Cawthern, a faculty member in the university’s science department and chair of the general education steering committee, said that if the model is voted to be approved, it would require at least another year before those changes would be implemented into the curriculum. The restructured system would then take effect in the Fall Semester of 2022.
Students currently enrolled in the university will be given the options to either continue with the old general education model, switch into the new model, or potentially complete a hybrid of both, Cawthern said.
Cawthern said the general education steering committee, comprised of six faculty-elected members and six members appointed by the provost, has devoted much time and thought into the proposed model for the past three years while he has served as chair.
The committee consulted with SU faculty and students to gather opinions during the development process.
All parties involved are confident that the new model is the best option to engage students in content that they are passionate about and to provide them flexibility to discover these passions, Cawthern said.
Cawthern said that even faculty members whose work may be disturbed by the alterations only care about the students' learning and want the proposal to be successful.
“We really haven’t even thought about, if this is voted down, how we are going to modify the current model,” Cawthern said.
If passed, the model’s effectiveness will be observed through events such as Gull Week, during which students can voluntarily be assessed on their learning and growth through the general education curriculum.
For more information on SU’s current general education program, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/administration/academic-affairs/general-education.aspx.
The entire proposal may be viewed here:
By GEORGIA FOSTER
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Pinterest.