Professional Program Requirements and the Core Curriculum
8.1 Recommendation A (Reduction Maxima)
8.2 Recommendation B (Reduction Guidelines)
The Educational Policy Committee (EPC) recognizes (as did the ad hoc Core Curriculum Committee) that the size of the proposed core makes it difficult for students in some programs to complete their studies in four years. However EPC remains convinced that it is desirable to make it possible for well-prepared students to do that. Therefore EPC grants the practical necessity of reducing the core requirements for students in some professional programs. This is not a new idea. Currently, many professional programs have a reduced core and others, most notably Education, have modified core requirements so as to have “core” courses that serve both program and core purposes (e.g., Mathematics 221).
The ad hoc Core Curriculum Committee proposed a specific approach to determining what reductions to core could be allowed in professional programs. That approach is very similar to that of the PECLAC document which defines current practice. On this approach, the core requirements are divided into two groups – the non-negotiable requirements and the requirements that are proposed for possible reduction. Representatives of various professional programs have raised questions both about this general approach and about the specific reductions suggested in the proposal. The objections to this approach center on its procrustean nature.
The Educational Policy Committee, after consulting with several representatives of various professional programs, proposes a different approach to determining the core reduction that we think is more consistent with the nature of the new core. The newly adopted core curriculum is not organized around courses but rather around a statement of purposes. The core categories that form the requirements of the new core were chosen in an attempt to ensure that all these purposes are met. For example, the category “Persons in Community" is included because it contributes to several of the core purposes (e.g., VII, Knowledge of Human Society) and not because we think that every student should “be introduced to” the social sciences. Most of the core purposes are addressed by more than one category and each category addresses several of the purposes. The categories then are only a means for ensuring the purposes of the core are met. The ad hoc committee could have drawn the category lines in very different places and could have added or subtracted categories and still have met its goal of addressing the purposes of the core.
This way of thinking about the core requirements encourages us to think not of particular categories first of all but rather of the goals and objectives of the core. Therefore, in understanding how to evaluate a proposal for a reduced core, we should not ask simply about which categories are omitted, but rather about how the proposed reduced core addresses the core purposes. On this way of looking at core, there might be many different ways of reducing the core requirements and these reductions might look quite different from program to program. For example, the category “Rhetoric in Culture” was included in the new core because it was thought to address in an important way several of the core purposes. But it certainly is possible that in some professional program, these core purposes are addressed in a significant way by courses within the program. Then we might have no principled objection to allowing that program to omit the category.
EPC therefore proposes the following approach towards determining core reductions. First, we give guidelines concerning the maximum number of allowable reductions (in terms of number of categories). But within these guidelines, EPC proposes that each professional program be asked to propose a core reduction package. These proposals would then be judged by the standing Core Curriculum Committee on the basis of how closely the package (program and core) addresses the core purposes.
- The categories “Developing a Christian Mind” and “Integrative Studies” must be a part of every core program proposed to the Core Curriculum Committee.
- No program shall be allowed to eliminate or reduce more than five categories.
- No program shall be allowed to eliminate or reduce more than four of the categories in the Core Studies group.
- No program shall be allowed to eliminate or reduce more than two of the categories in the Core Competencies group.
A professional program may propose (to the Core Curriculum Committee) that graduates of the program be required to take a modified set of core requirements. Such a proposal needs approval by EPC and the Faculty Senate. The following guidelines will be used to evaluate such a proposal.
- Recognizing that all core purposes will not be fully met with a reduced core, the fundamental criteria shall be balance among the various purposes of the core and the inclusion of as many categories as possible.
- The proposal may not reduce core requirements more than the maxima specified in Recommendation A.
- If elimination of a category is proposed, an argument must be made that the core purposes addressed by that category are addressed by other requirements of the core and program.