Millersville University, Faculty Senate

Attachment #5
Faculty Senate Minutes
November 29, 2005

Proposal for an Alternative General Education Curriculum

  1. Foundations (12)

  2. Explorations in the Liberal Arts Core (36)

  3. Extensions (6)

Total Credits (54)

General Education Stipulations:

Rationale:

Our proposal maintains the best features of our present General Education curriculum while simultaneously striving to achieve greater coherence in the overall General Education curriculum. We approached the General Education curriculum as the place where our students can receive a Liberal Arts education that develops and provides opportunities to reinforce crucial critical thinking and communications skills necessary to our students' growth as individual learners and vital to their success in college and in their careers.

Characteristic 1: A Clear Purpose

The MU mission statement clearly embraces the Liberal Arts tradition: "The primary mission of Millersville University is to promote intellectual development through an exemplary liberal arts-based educationů[MU] resolutely embraces the conviction that all of its degree programs must maintain a strong liberal arts component while preparing students to engage in productive and contributive lives as professionals." Our proposal allows students to explore subject matter across the disciplines in an attempt to provide them with a diverse experience in the traditional liberal arts areas: science, math, logic, rhetoric, grammar, and fine arts. Liberal arts are designed to expose students to disciplines whose focus is not necessarily tied to specific occupational goals. This is in direct alignment with the University's mission.

In addition, our proposal, while providing the coherence missing to our existing General Education structure, allows students a great deal of choice in fulfilling the goals of the liberal arts. It is also designed to complement the concept of learning communities and learning across the disciplines.

Characteristic 2: Intentional Alignment
The system we propose includes three categories: Foundations, Explorations and Extensions. Foundation courses transition students from high school to college, introduce them to important life and academic skills, and lay a foundation for advanced work in the Liberal Arts. Foundation courses consist of the four courses we believe are necessary foundations on which the rest of the general education curriculum depends. These courses should also be taken early in the students' career. In addition, we feel strongly that these courses should be part of a two- or three-part learning community (UNIV 179, ENGL 110 at a minimum, with perhaps the addition of WELL 175 and/or COMM 100). These communities would ideally expound upon the interconnectedness of the general education curriculum and help students understand its relevance to their lives.

Exploration courses provide students with opportunities to learn and discover from exploration and engagement in many disciplines. Exploration courses focus on three main ideas of the Liberal Arts tradition: humanities, social sciences and math and science. These are areas within which every student should have instruction. Our proposal provides for a great deal of freedom within this category, with a few caveats. We believe it is essential for all students to take at least one applied science course with a lab, at least one mathematics course, and at least one literature course. These courses will allow the students to better understand and participate in their world. Consider the variety of disciplines referred to in articles in a daily newspaper. Training in these specific disciplines will allow students to better engage in the common discourse of life.

Extension courses build on previous learning experiences and guide students through the process of directly applying their skill and knowledge and courses that are geared toward their major. Extension courses allow students to take their basic skills and both strengthen them and apply them to their chosen major. We believe both an advanced writing course and a capstone course are necessary elements of a General Education curriculum. Extension courses also position students for their upcoming role as graduates. Representing thoroughly trained liberal arts students, Millersville graduates should be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences in their area of expertise as well as on general subjects. Capstone and Advanced Writing courses ensure a level of proficiency for listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The Capstone course helps to bring coherence to the student's individual field of study. Advanced Writing prepares students to apply the writing skills acquired throughout the curriculum to specialized writing situations in and beyond college.

In consonance with the General Education Task Force recommendations, we also stress the necessity of four "writing-intensive" courses throughout the general education curriculum. Writing is a critical skill for all citizens, no matter what discipline they specialize in. In addition, the writing skills of most college students are underdeveloped and the only remedy to this situation is continued practice.

Characteristic 3: Coherence
By requiring all students to enroll in University 179, we can guarantee that all freshmen will develop certain research, critical thinking, and communication skills while discussing a topic of personal interest to students and faculty alike. By linking the "passion courses" to other fundamental courses through learning communities, we can ensure that students gain a perspective on the role and value of General Education and study in the Liberal Arts to their overall college experience.

Characteristic 4: Intellectual Richness
Our proposed General Education curriculum is designed to add intellectual richness to the lives of our students by fostering the opportunity to explore a variety of disciplines that reflect the human race's most vital, permanent, and significant intellectual accomplishments. By completing various reading and writing activities, as well as exercises in quantitative problem solving and analytical and critical reasoning, our students will learn how to correlate observed data with knowledge about life and human problems. Ultimately, from their varied educational experiences, they will gain profound insight into the intellectual, spiritual, moral, and emotional life of human beings and provide standards of value for human activity.

Characteristic 5: Academic Community
By its nature, general education programs are interdisciplinary and help to illuminate the interconnectedness of both academic disciplines and their application to life outside of the university. Our proposal helps to highlight these issues through choice and required upper level "W" courses as well as capstone courses. In addition, all citizens need writing, math, reading, and science abilities. Our proposal provides for those needs.

Characteristic 6: Simplicity and Flexibility:
Our proposal is designed to simplify the general education requirements. Flexibility is key and its layout lends to increased comprehensibility.

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