Curriculum Revision Task Force shares new general education model at forum


Photo courtesy of Cassie Michel ('20)

The new general education model proposed by CRTF.

30 students and faculty members gathered in Olin 102 to hear proposed changes to the general education curriculum as devised by the Curriculum Revision Task Force on Oct. 1. These proposed changes to the curriculum build upon the core existing learning objectives of the college, in addition to creating new learning avenues that reflect the interests and needs of the student body.

Professor of Sociology Char Kunkel and student representative Cassie Michel  (‘20)led the forum. Other student and faculty members of the CRTF include Noor Bibi (‘21), Professor in Library and Information Studies Andi Beckendorf (‘93), Associate Professor of German Elizabeth Steding, Associate Professor in Education and Coordinator for Music Education Jill Wilson, Associate Professor of Biology Dawn Reding, and Professor of English Martin Klammer.

The CRTF used student surveys, investigated the educational approaches of other schools, and researched the best modern education practices in order to create their proposal. Kunkel says the task force wanted to update Luther’s general education curriculum in order to better prepare students for the modern world.

“I’ve been here a long time and this is the 21st century, and some of what we’re doing doesn’t match with what the world needs,” Kunkel said. “I’m excited about such a change and creating a more equitable experience for all students and creating a more equitable world. I think we can do that with basic education requirements.”

The task force is proposing a general education model that makes up a pyramid of four major general education components. The foundation of the pyramid is “Intellectual Foundations,” which includes Paideia 111 and 112, the J-Term 185 requirement, a revamped version of the current wellness course, and a data course.

The center of the pyramid is composed of two components. “Integration of Breadth” would require students to take a set of two or three courses across disciplines during the same semester that would work to solve a common problem. “Global Citizenship” places an emphasis on religion, culture and language, power and discourse, sustainable communities, and a mandatory study away requirement fully funded by student tuition. Students would have the opportunity to fulfill this requirement with a J-Term course or a whole semester, either domestically or internationally.

Michel says she is most excited about this component because it improves upon Luther’s existing intercultural requirement.

“As the world becomes more and more globalized, cultures are interacting more and more, and you need skills like intercultural competency, and knowledge of power systems and systemic inequalities to be able to navigate the world, navigate relationships, and work to make the world a better place,” Michel said. “It’s also an area that [Luther] currently isn’t perhaps doing the best on because right now we just have one weak intercultural requirement. As a student body, we’ve demanded that they focus more on diversity, equity and inclusion, and social justice. And this global citizenship component gets at that.”

The top of the pyramid will remain the  same with traditional “Capstone” requirements: the senior project and Paideia 450. Andrew Avila (20) believes that all students should be aware of these changes and was disappointed by the turnout at the forum.

“I was very disappointed by the lack of turnout from students and also faculty because these are very key changes that could be coming, and students should be aware of whether it’s going to impact you or not,” Avila said. “I often feel that the same students are going to the same events advocating for the same things and it would be nice to get more people there to hear more voices and opinions. But for the next forum, if they do have one, I would like to see more students.”

If all aspects of the CRTF’s proposed plan are approved first by faculty and then the Board of Regents, every student who enters their first year at Luther in the Fall of 2020 will begin the academic year with the new general education requirements.

The CRTF plans to hold another meeting in the event that faculty approve the proposal with revisions  so students can remain part of the planning process before it goes to the Board of Regents.

Kunkel says the task force is willing to consider suggestions from any member of the Luther student body and encourages them to discuss their ideas with faculty members and fellow students.

“It’s all at the potential stage, and students have a lot of power,” Kunkel said. “If they have ideas that they don’t see represented, then they need to raise the issue and spread the word, and they need to talk to a lot of faculty. Tell them what you’re interested in and what you want.”

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