JCU makes changes down to the core

January 24th, 2013

One of the most important parts of John Carroll University’s academic requirements is the core curriculum. Many students and faculty members have different opinions about it, but the core curriculum is in place to encourage critical thinking and give students an opportunity to learn about many different subjects, according to the JCU website.

However, in the next few years, the core curriculum may be undergoing some important changes. According to Gwen Compton-Engle, associate professor in the classical and modern languages department and director of the core curriculum, modifications to the core are currently under discussion by the faculty.

She said, “We do not know whether they [the changes] will be approved until the faculty takes a vote.” She hopes that the vote will take place by the end of this semester.

Compton-Engle explained that the major difference in the new core curriculum will include three sets of integrated courses, titled “Engaging the Global Community,” “Exploring the Natural World” and “Examining Human Experience.” Currently, according to JCU’s core curriculum Web page, students are required to take a certain amount of courses from each of five divisions of the core curriculum, which do not have to be relevant to each other or the student’s major.

However, in the proposed core curriculum, the integrated courses would be structured so that students could study one topic from different perspectives, making core classes more relevant to each other.

Compton-Engle clarified that for the “Exploring the Natural World” portion, a student would take a pair of courses that focuses on the same topic. If the topic was environmental policy, a student could take a biology course that would be linked to a political science course about the same topic.

In addition to the modification from divisions to integrated courses, the language requirement and the “Jesuit heritage” requirement would be different. Students who begin a new language at JCU would take two semesters of the language, but students who continue with a previously studied language would complete a third semester of that language. According to John Carroll’s website, this means that a student who took Spanish in high school would take Spanish 101, 102 and 201. However, students are exempt from this requirement if they place above the 200 level.

The “Jesuit heritage” requirement may change so that students would only need to take six credits of philosophy, rather than the current nine credits.

These changes to the core curriculum would not affect any current students and would not be effective for students until fall of 2015. Even so, current students have mixed feelings about the changes to the core curriculum. Junior Harry Schneider believes that such changes could be positive for students.

He said, “Some people are frustrated with the core because they feel like the classes aren’t relevant to their major. Integrating the same topic into two different classes makes the classes seem more pertinent and could make students more interested.”

Junior Matt Nied added that he would like to take classes that were linked, especially if the classes were related to his major. He said, “As a science major, I’d like to take classes such as sociology of medicine or a philosophy class about medieval scientists. If the new core classes were relevant to my major, I think I would get more out of my liberal arts education.”

However, some students do enjoy taking classes outside of their major. Junior Alex Cavasini said that while she enjoys taking classes for her major, she also enjoys learning about the wide variety of subjects in the core curriculum.

“I like taking classes that are relevant to my major, but it’s also nice to have a break from it. I really like the balance between major classes and my core classes,” she said.

Schneider agreed and expressed his concern about students who are undecided. “Some people take many different core classes because they’re undecided about their major,” he said. “So, having classes with linked topics might not benefit them as much. However, if you come to college and know exactly what you want to do, then the new integrated core would be beneficial.”