General education requirements to change
BY ASHLEY WESTBROOK
(Webster, Feb. 8, 2011) Webster University’s faculty assembled in the library conference room Tuesday, Feb. 8 to discuss the proposed plan to replace Webster’s current general education program.
Brenda Fyfe, the dean of School of Education, said the meeting was a clearly-focused discussion.
“There was an opportunity for voices to be heard and decisions to be made,” Fyfe said.
The amendments to the new general education program introduced a set of required skills that all Webster students must complete. Another requirement the faculty passed was to increase the required hours for transfer students from 27 to 30.
The requirements were put forward by the Global Citizenship Project Taskforce, a group created by the Faculty Senate. The Taskforce has decided to tackle the issue by updating the general education requirements placed on its students.
Bruce Umbaugh, a professor of philosophy and director of the Global Citizenship Project, believes updating the requirements joins a list of the reason why things needed a change.
“There were a handful of reasons why we thought to get this started,” Umbaugh said. “One is that there isn’t any coherence in the general education program that we have now. We really have at least three different programs and there really isn’t anything that holds any of them together.”
Taylor Harris, a junior art history major, said she feels some general education courses required for her degree were not valuable. However, she said she is not against general education altogether.
“While the classes may not be related to one’s major in any sort of way, I think general education broadens our spectrum and will allow us to enter many different fields and obtain maximum job opportunities and skills,” Harris said.
Umbaugh said the faculty assembly is scheduled to vote next month on a new program. One of the Taskforce’s goals is to approve the new program so that it is implemented in the 2012 fall semester.
Christina Pellerito, a sophomore music major, said she agrees with the idea behind general education requirements.
“I feel satisfied with them,” Pellerito said. “The standards are high enough so students need to make an impression, but not impossible so students can keep up.”
Professors try to encourage students to take the extra class to make them a well-rounded person.
“One of the questions that students have about courses in the general education program is ‘Why do I have to take this?’ ” Umbaugh said. “We think we are presenting a program that helps us answer that question, rather than telling them, ‘Because I say so’. ”
The Taskforce started in February 2009 and submitted a proposal to the university to send a team to the Associations of America’s Colleges and Universities General Education Institute. It was accepted, and plans were arranged.
“We sent a team of people to Minneapolis in June of 2009 and in about six days we came back with a process to propose to the faculty senate,” Umbaugh said. “The first meeting of the taskforce was in August.”