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Across the Commons

Transforming the General Education curriculum

The University’s strategic plan, Vision 2020, recognizes the need to produce graduates with a capacity for critical thinking, life-long learning and career success. We are addressing those needs across our University as we form and implement our academic roadmap.

The University of Akron

Dr. Linda Subich chairs the steering committee charged with creating recommendations to modernize our Gen Ed curriculum.

Traditionally, it is through general education coursework that students develop the skills and knowledge that serve as the foundation for academic and professional success. It also is the foundation upon which faculty build degree programs.

Much has changed at The University of Akron and on the national higher education landscape since our last general education curriculum revisions more than 15 years ago. The changing face of “typical” career paths is altering what we define as optimal educational preparation and today’s graduates must demonstrate competencies that enable them to compete in a global economic landscape. These reasons are prompting us to reconsider the relevancy of today’s General Education Curriculum and its integration within our degree programs.

With this in mind, Provost Mike Sherman has initiated the process to transform the University’s General Education Curriculum. That process includes widespread consideration by UA constituency groups.

Early this summer, the provost convened an exploratory committee to determine the relevancy of our current model and the opportunities for improvement.

Provost Sherman

Provost Sherman talks at a steering committee meeting.

Those recommendations resulted in the recent formation of a broad General Education Transformation Steering committee, comprised of faculty and staff from across the University. Further, within the last month, a new committee with membership constituted in collaboration with the Faculty Senate was formed. This new committee is charged with recommending a framework for further consideration.

A guiding principle is the need to move from a segmented model in which general education is often seen as separate (the first two years) from degree programs to a more fully integrated model in which general education serves as the essential infrastructure for degree programs. The new infrastructure may:

  • provide for fewer credit hours to achieve a baccalaureate degree;
  • provide multiple rigorous pathways to desired outcomes;
  • encourage the greater use of minors, certificates and integrated interdisciplinary sequences of courses as well as service and experiential learning; and
  • emphasize documentable excellence consistent with Higher Learning Commission expectations for UA.

These recommendations will be the basis for department and college conversations and wider constituent input beginning with the spring of 2012.

Steering Committee members:

  • Linda Subich, Arts and Sciences (Chair)
  • John Green, Arts and Sciences
  • Elizabeth Mancke, Arts and Sciences
  • David Perry, Arts and Sciences
  • Janet Bean, Arts and Sciences
  • Linda Saliga, Arts and Sciences
  • Annie Hanson, Arts and Sciences Advising
  • Beth Graham, Creative and Professional Arts
  • Brooks Toliver, Creative and Professional Arts
  • Andrew Rancer, Creative and Professional Arts
  • Sheldon Wrice, Summit College
  • Irina Chernikova, Summit College
  • Tim Lillie, Education
  • Marlene Huff, Nursing
  • Don Visco, Engineering
  • Thomas Calderone, Business
  • Bill Rich, Law
  • Virginia Gunn, Health Sciences and Human Services
  • Katie Duff, Student Trustee
  • Mary Beth Clemons, Associated Student Government
  • Jennifer Holz, Wayne College
  • Joe Salem, University Libraries

Go to the next story: "Slideshow: Outstanding examples of interdisciplinary discipline"

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