Committee revises general education, core curriculum

For future freshmen at Geneseo, possibly as early as the incoming class of 2018, the general education requirements may have an updated framework. The General Education Committee, along with faculty and students learned in the field of general education and assessment, are crafting a new and improved basis for the completion of the liberal arts general education requirements. According to the Chair of the General Education Committee and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics Gary Towsley, the framework originates around three learning outcomes that satisfy the general education requirements for Geneseo.

It begins, he said, with “broad and specialized knowledge,” which essentially paves the direction for a student to select a major. This emphasizes additional introductory courses for freshmen with hopes to provide an opportunity for younger students to explore different fields of study.

“One problem we have seen is that we have seniors taking 100-level courses, and that just seems silly,” Towsley said.

The committee hopes that students will be able to take these introductory classes during their freshman year instead of as upperclassmen.

The second learning outcome lies within the development of skills both within and beyond one’s major, Towsley explained. The committee developed eight different sets of skills that students should aim to improve throughout their course of study. Taking specific courses either compatible with one’s major or through other departments will hone each of these skills and ensure that Geneseo students have a broad range of abilities.

Towsley explained that the third learning outcome is “integrative learning,” obtainable through a set of student-selected courses that follow a specific, unique theme. This learning outcome encourages studying abroad and internship opportunities. Following a track of courses based on one theme allows students to undertake extensive research on their own.

“What we want is for every student to have a transformative experience,” Towsley said.

The original general education system, developed from 1978 to 1980, aimed to put coherence into the education of a Geneseo student.

“The sets of required courses has become more of a burden since that time,” Towsley said. “We want something that is more in tune with the students.”

In addition to the burden of the current system, this new framework provides greater opportunity for a seamless transfer from a high school to college student.  It also approaches Geneseo’s general education requirements with a more global perspective; the proposed learning outcomes would give students a greater opportunity to push beyond both campus and cultural boundaries.

Towsley stressed that input from current students is essential to the creation of this framework. Mathematics and business administration double major junior Lauren Hollasch believes that many upperclassmen certainly feel the burden of unfinished general education requirements.

“Students could benefit from implementing a system emphasizing a common theme of [general education] for our underclassmen semesters,” she said. “They could take some classes in a variety of fields that pertain to interests rather than requirements and ultimately help them get on the right track to make their decision for a major.”