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Core changes in the works

February 9th, 2012

Before seniors can look forward to pomp and circumstance, they must make sure they have completed the core requirements. Many students have mixed feelings about it, because although it provides a strong liberal arts base, it also accounts for many credit hours.

Changes to this core are now being discussed.

According to some students, the liberal arts core has changed their lives and completed their Jesuit experience.

“For me, I’d say core is a good way to make you a more well-rounded student. It exposes you to English, history and all different topics,” said senior Paul Tekavec.

One mission of the core is to introduce students to subjects in which they never expected to find themselves interested.

“I liked the ability to try a lot of different disciplines before choosing my major. I would have never guessed that I would have liked philosophy, but now I’m a minor in it because I had to take that first PL 101 course. So it enabled me to try it out. I value diversity,” said senior Ann Carl.

However, some students are looking forward to changes within the core, specifically changes within the subjects of philosophy and religion.

Some of the courses, including philosophy and religion, may become more interchangeable.

“I think that would be a good option, just to give people more of a variety of options,” said freshman Rachel Mangan.

By offering more interchangeable classes people will be able to tailor their JCU curriculum.

“I would be able to focus more on my major and the class work that’s at hand,” freshman Ashley Rocci said.

Many students believe that they can use the interchangeable courses to their advantage as they have done in the past.

Sophomore Garrett Guerrieri said he has used the interchangeable courses to choose classes that are more interesting to him.

Yet, some students do not fully support the changes regarding religion and philosophy.

“To me religion looks at more spiritual issues, where philosophy tends to be based off of human experiences and ways to live your life. Obviously there’s some overlap, but I tend to think of them more as separate areas,” said Tekavec.

In addition to restructuring the core and possibly making more classes interchangeable, there is also the option of restructuring the first year seminar course and this is not the first time this has happened.

“It’s already been restructured once. Back in the day sometime, I guess it was either 1996 or 1997, when FYS was introduced, it was the same class for all freshmen. The idea was to have an almost identical freshmen experience. About five or so years ago in response to a number of different movements, FYS was reformed and the freshman  seminar was divided up into a number of different learning communities in which students were  able to prioritize their choices. It did allow faculty to teach more areas within their interest,” said history department chair Daniel Kilbride.

Kilbride has had experience teaching the FYS courses since their inception.

Many people feel strongly about the changes being made to the FYS courses.

“I think, as a class, students tend to dislike FYS because they come to see it as an additional burden that [isn’t] well integrated into the core curriculum. It’s true that many of the things FYS tries to do, like have a student-centered environment, have a discussion-based class and introduce students to critical thinking are already done in a lot of other classes so they don’t really see what FYS adds to their education either in terms of content or skills,” said Kilbride.

Another change slated to occur is an increase in fine arts programs.

“I think it’s a good idea because I know a lot of my friends are upset that there’s not a lot of variety in the fine arts in terms of drawing and painting,” said junior Vicky Roethel.

By adding more courses within the realm of fine arts, not only will it nourish students’ hunger for the courses, but it could also make for more successful recruitment efforts, according to Kelly Frahlich, the assistant director of enrollment.

“It would help with their elective classes and maybe just having a good balance of classes that they enjoy. [And] it would be a way for students in high school to continue their artistic hobbies from high school into college,” Frahlich said.

“I think that would be a very good thing. There are areas that need a lot more expansion, especially visual arts, drawing and painting and things like that. I think it would be a good thing,” said Karen Gygli, a professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts.

Kilbride feels that adding more fine arts courses would aid the University’s mission as a Jesuit institution.

He said, “If we really want to make John Carroll a complete liberal arts and sciences experience, we really need to address and [develop] fine arts and art history.”