May 23, 2017

Students criticize usefulness of GCP program

While the Global Citizenship Program (GCP) is a point of a pride for Webster University, some students see it as a hinderance to their academic goals.

Junior legal studies major Jeffrey Abney said he almost did not go to Webster specifically because of the GCP.

As a transfer student and a veteran with well-paying job, Abney said the program does nothing to make him a well-rounded student.

“They have limitations setup to purposefully make you take the classes as a transfer student as well,” Abney said.

Webster philosophy professor Bruce Umbaugh led the task force that developed the GCP. The process started in 2009 with a committee of 26 faculty, staff and students who worked on developing the program. Freshman who began in 2012 were able to be entered into the new program.

Umbaugh said the program did not apply to transfer students initially because they wanted to wait until they had a full array of courses out and get department heads’ feedback on the skill requirements for each course.

“We are always trying to improve the program,” Umbaugh said.

“That’s the whole purpose; reviewing it and getting assessment data is to do a better job for our students each year.”

Keystone Seminar Director Victoria McMullen said the idea of the program is to pull together all the skills taught in general education courses through integrative, interdisciplinary and team-based work.

“We’re hoping that the perspective taking and the integration is enough that even if it doesn’t happen then, sometimes it happens five years down the road,” McMullen said.

The main goal, McMullen said, is to provide high-quality instruction and have students meet the overall objectives.

However, Abney said he thinks the goal is something else.

“I think it is there only to make certain, otherwise not popular, classes be mandatory to artificially inflate their attendance numbers,” Abney said.

McMullen said students who have an associate’s degree, specifically an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Arts Transfer degree (AAT), only have to take the Keystone seminar. However, transfer students transferring in 35 hours or less will have to meet the GCP requirements.

“The university mission is to develop global citizens and help people achieve individual excellence,” McMullen said.

Abney said the program could be improved by not forcing students to take a random amount of classes that may be harmful to their GPA. He said he was forced to take a class in anthropology because the program would only accept one of his four HIST credits.

“The only B I every earned was in my forced anthropology class and I had no intention of ever taking it before I was forced to choose from a block of what was available,” Abney said.

Senior Harmony Miller said the GCP has been an inconvenience for her as well, despite starting Webster as a freshman.

Miller is a double major in French and legal studies with an English minor and an international studies certificate. She said all the extra classes for GCP make it difficult for her to study things that she wants to study and are relevant to what she wants to do professionally.

“I think we should focus on developing the skills that we have rather than try to have all these different skills and not be good at any one of them,” Miller said.

Miller said there should be more of an interdisciplinary program so students can have their majors and other areas they choose to study, tailored to the student rather than a universal set of criteria.

“I think some of the objectives of GCP kind of distract from the actual content,” Miller said. “[It] would be more effective if they weren’t so blatant.”

 

**Correction: Victoria McMullen is the Keystone Seminar Director. The original article read that she is the GCP Director. The Journal regrets this error.

**Clarification: The original article read McMullen said students who have an associate’s degree only have to take the Keystone seminar. This article has been updated to clarify that McMullen specifically meant students with an Associate of Arts (AA) or and Associate of Arts Transfer degree (AAT) and was not talking about students with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS).

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