Curriculum changes provide students with increased Gen-Ed options

The College Senate passed a policy to permit students to use classes in their major to satisfy General Education requirements. Courses that are in the Natural Sciences, Fine Arts and Social Sciences will be impacted by this change.

The College Senate approved a change to the General Education and major requirements in the fall 2016 semester. The change will officially go into effect in fall 2017, while the policy will be extended to students who began attending Geneseo in the fall of 2013 or later. 

Dean of Academic Planning and Advising and professor of English Celia Easton explained what this change means for students. 

“Prior to this semester, in General Education classes, students always needed two different prefixes,” she said. “Courses that might be General Education couldn’t be taken inside your major. For example, if you were a sociology major and SOCL 100 is a General Education class in the social sciences, you would have had to take two more classes outside of sociology that were S/ to count in that way. Now … people can count one of their courses inside their major.” 

Only courses that fulfill Natural Science (N/), Fine Arts (F/) or Social Science (S/) General Education requirements are affected by the curriculum change, according to Easton. 

Interim Provost and professor of English Paul Schacht said that he thinks this curriculum change will allow students to enroll in more courses they are interested in by providing more flexibility and remaining consistent with the purpose of General Education requirements. 

“If you’re a biology major, your biology courses are part of what enable you to understand the methodology, the style of thinking, the important problems and so on in the natural sciences,” he said. “So it would seem odd to suppose that somehow your biology courses are not contributing to that.”

Schacht believes that such a policy outlining a separation between General Education requirements and major requirements was implemented to provide students with a greater breadth of courses. He explained that this division took place before he began working at the college and that he is not entirely sure of the rationale behind it.

There has been some varied feedback for the change, according to Schacht. 

“In the one effort I made to get some limited student feedback … it was mixed,” he said. “A few students said, ‘I think that the breadth that students get from the existing requirement is something that’s good’ and others said, ‘I’ve never really understood exactly what the value of this requirement is, and I think it’s good that this change will give us more flexibility.’” 

Easton said the perspectives she has heard from students is more positive. 

“I think people have been pretty happy,” she said. “I haven’t heard anyone say that they didn’t like it. It never prohibits someone who wants greater breadth from pursuing that.”

History major sophomore Christopher Tursellino wishes such a change had been in place earlier.

“In all, I think that it was good in terms of its benefits for us—the students—because I don’t need to be taking so many unnecessary Gen Eds when I’m already fulfilling them in my major,” he said. “At the same time, I do wish it had come earlier because now I feel like I’ve wasted my time.” 

The process behind the policy spans back to the spring 2016 semester when it was originally brought before the College Senate, according to Easton. The idea traveled from the policy subcommittee of the College Senate to the Senate itself, where proposals must undergo two readings before final approval. The curriculum changes were approved this past fall. 

Schacht said this modification is part of a larger look at Geneseo’s curriculum through the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education. 

“We should expect that over the course of the spring and much of next year, there will be continued examination of the General Education curriculum as part of the larger enterprise of reexamining the entire Geneseo curriculum in light of GLOBE,” he said.