University of Northern Colorado faculty and students expressed concerns and gave feedback about proposed changes to the liberal arts core at two feedback sessions last week.
The changes are meant to streamline core requirements to improve student retention and graduation. The proposal comes from the Liberal Arts Council and Academic Portfolio Task Force made up of UNC faculty.
According to Christiane Olivo, Liberal Arts Council chairwoman, these changes come because of two main reasons: to assist transfer students with core classes and to assist students with heavier course loads.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education modified their policy around core requirements to make it easier for transfer students to bring in core requirements from other colleges. The policy now states that UNC cannot require transfer students to complete core requirements other than those specified by the Colorado Guaranteed Transfer Pathways.
Currently, UNC’s core requires students to complete 40 credits in addition to their degree requirements. This is partly due to the required classes in categories seven and eight, multicultural and international studies, which the state does not require.
Reducing the number of credits for the core would help with getting a degree for certain programs at the school. Nursing and teacher programs both go over the 120 required credits, meaning students in these programs must take on more than 15 credits a semester to graduate in four years.
Olivo said the council hopes to help lower the credit requirements for these programs to help with graduation and retention at the school.
One proposed option would reduce the minimum number of credits to 31 by allowing all classes from these two groups to “double dip” and count for the other classes required by the state. The other option would be similar but include an additional three credit “option,” the details of which the council is still figuring out.
Initially, the Liberal Arts Council recommended combining the two subject groups not required by the state with other categories but this was met with backlash. In previous discussions, many students, especially students of color, said they felt this would reduce visibility of classes meant to embrace diversity.
During one of the forums last week, UNC faculty members expressed confusion and difficulty surrounding the current core curriculum. When advising students, faculty members said students have been very confused by the requirements, and one faculty member proposed that we use this opportunity to simplify the process.
Olivo said she is open to feedback and will adjust the changes according to the comments she receives at these forums and online.
The comment period for the proposal will close Friday, Feb. 15 and Olivo said she hopes to have a proposal to put forward by the end of the month. This will then go to the faculty senate for at least three meetings of deliberation before being approved. UNC would see these changes for the 2020-2021 school year at the earliest. Comments can be made online at https://unco.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9TS4FazndqYf0oJ or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.