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  April 19, 2004

First Slate Of Courses Approved
For New Gen Ed System

The first slate of courses meeting the new general education requirements was approved by the University Senate on April 12. The new requirements will take effect beginning with students entering the University in fall 2005.

Proposals for courses to fulfill the new general education competencies were reviewed first by departments or programs, and then by a subcommittee of the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC) and the full committee, before being presented to the Senate. Proposals for new and revised courses also had to be approved by the Senate Curricula and Courses Committee.

A total of 604 proposals, including some courses that were counted more than once because they satisfy two or three requirements, were submitted to the GEOC for review.

"The good news is that this process wasn't just a rubber-stamping by the departments," said Anne Hiskes, an associate professor of philosophy and chair of the GEOC. "Departments thought about how to enrich their offerings."

Some courses taught under the old general education system were dropped and new ones proposed; others were substantially revised, she said. Sixty-two courses were dropped, and 203 courses new to the general education system - though not necessarily new to the University - were proposed.

GEOC approval was not automatic. Hiskes said that out of 489 proposals reviewed so far, 156 were returned for revision and 20 were rejected.

"The GEOC is committed to helping focus the talent of faculty in creating a strong and vibrant program in general education at the University of Connecticut," said Hiskes, a self-described 'missionary' for general education. "We're an advocacy group for our faculty and for our students. We hope students will have an enriching and stimulating experience in their gen ed courses. Ultimately, the state and the nation will benefit from a good general education program."

Hiskes said the biggest difference in content between the old and the new general education system is the diversity and multicultural ism requirement, which replaces the former non-Western requirement and is subdivided into international and non-international courses. Many of the 111 courses proposed to date for the diversity and multiculturalism competency also fulfill another competency, such as arts and humanities or social sciences; and some meet the W (writing) requirement as well.

The number of Q (quantitative) courses proposed was a little over half the total under the old system (65, down from 122). "This is not a problem," said Hiskes, "as we asked departments to cull unnecessary Q courses."

She said more W courses and more social science courses - where the requirements have been substantially increased compared with the old system - are still needed.

An additional slate of courses will come before the Senate on May 3.

Hiskes said the process of general education course development is ongoing and proposals may be submitted to the GEOC at any time. For courses to be offered in fall 2005, however, the proposals must be approved by the GEOC and the Senate by November 2004, in order to be included in the University course catalog.

"The GEOC is committed to establishing a baseline for future oversight," said Hiskes. "We want people to think clearly about general education objectives, and then explain exactly how their course is going to meet those objectives."

In addition, she said, departments and programs need to develop their exit expectations for the computer technology and information literacy competency requirements, and to formulate plans to enable students to meet the requirement of a 200-level W course in their major field of study.