New University Curriculum gets ‘yes’ vote from SMU faculty

Dallas Hall with studentsThe SMU faculty has voted 194-74 in favor of a new University general education curriculum – the common knowledge, skills and experiences every student must accrue before they graduate.

Approval for what is now called the University Curriculum (UC) came through an electronic vote tallied March 18-19, 2010, through SMU’s Office of Information Technology.

The Faculty Senate held an open forum March 17 to allow faculty members to discuss questions and concerns with members of the General Education Review Committee, which formulated the new curriculum with input from the SMU faculty and key staff members. The new curriculum will be submitted next to the University’s administration and Board of Trustees.

> Download the final UC proposal (log in with your e-mail ID and password)

The General Education Review Committee began meeting in October 2008 to review the existing curriculum for needed changes. Its goals included “eliciting the faculty’s judgment about the core knowledge and competencies that graduates of SMU should possess,” as well as to ensure “ongoing involvement of the faculty in determining and implementing the details,” according to the proposal document.

The Committee presented its first proposal for faculty input and discussion in April 2009. The final proposal – dated March 2, 2010 – describes the faculty committees that will be responsible for further defining and implementing the new course of study.

> Proposed structure of UC committees

In addition, the latest proposal clarifies that student electronic portfolios are not a requirement for graduation and will not require faculty evaluation or certification. Instead, it recommends “that students be introduced, in their first year at SMU, to the use of e-portfolios.”

Among the goals set for the new curriculum is to make it easier for students to pursue multiple majors and minors. It also aims to accommodate more opportunities for honors programming, international study, undergraduate research options, internship experiences and service learning.

> The UC’s connections to the SMU Strategic Plan

Additionally, the University Curriculum’s structure is designed to better accommodate transfer students from other universities, as well as make it easier for current SMU students to transfer their existing credits if they change majors.

As with the current General Education Curriculum (GEC), the UC will constitute approximately one-third of a 120-hour baccalaureate degree plan. An estimated 85 percent of the new requirements will map to existing courses.

> See the short version of the UC and GEC overlay.
> See the long version of the UC and GEC overlay.

Read more about the University Curriculum under the link below.

The University Curriculum in a nutshell

The Foundation component places significantly increased importance on written and oral communication. Additional requirements will prepare students for the demands of an increasingly interconnected world and an ever more global society. It includes:

• A Discernment and Discourse sequence of 3-9 credits
• A 3-credit Nature of Scholarship requirement devoted to research approaches to important questions
• A 2-credit Personal Responsibility and Stewardship (wellness) requirement
• A 3-credit Quantitative Reasoning (numeracy) foundation

> More about the Nature of Scholarship requirement

The new curriculum is built on five Pillars, each representing a 2-course sequence – typically an introductory class followed by a more advanced course. Each pillar is devoted to a different way of pursuing truth:

• Pure and Applied Science
• Historical Contexts
• Philosophical and Religious Inquiry and Ethics
• Institutions and Cultures
• Creativity and Aesthetics

> The University Curriculum Pillars defined

Proficiencies and Experiences may be met through credit-bearing courses or noncredit activities approved for meeting a requirement. These span the curriculum and may include work in Foundation, Pillars, Capstone, the student’s major, electives and approved activities:

• Writing
• Quantitative Reasoning (1 credit required beyond Foundation)
• Information Literacy
• Oral Communication
• Community Engagement
• Human Diversity
• Global Engagement
• Second Language (demonstration required)

Students must demonstrate second-language proficiency equal to 4 semesters of college study. The requirement may be satisfied in a number of ways, including on-campus courses, education or internship abroad, proficiency examination, online study with approved learning materials, or established literacy in a native language other than English.

The final, 3-hour Capstone requirement allows each student to make a contribution to the knowledge pool by synthesizing and integrating a body of work within a chosen area of study using skills, knowledge and methodologies learned throughout their undergraduate careers. It may be fulfilled through a course, thesis, senior project or performance, interdisciplinary project, or an internship combined with a paper that requires students to report, analyze and reflect on the experience.

> More about Capstone