After many years of hard work on general education reform and months of formulating this particular plan, Wheaton’s Faculty and Student Government passed a proposal that creates new general education curriculum: Christ at the Core: Liberal Arts at Wheaton College. This program will significantly change how Wheaton approaches general education. It is comprised of three parts. These are the Shared Core, which is a series of innovative courses that all students will take, the Core Competencies, which largely resemble the Competencies we take now, and the Thematic Core, which completely reimagines our current distributional requirements to allow more creativity and flexibility for students. The introduction of the Thematic Core will greatly reduce the number of credits needed to fulfill the General Education requirement, meeting them in as few as twelve extra credit hours.
Together, these pieces form a cohesive program that allows students to engage the liberal arts in fresh new ways. The full proposal can be found on the Wheaton Intranet under “Announcements.” This is a significant step forward, as, according to Dr. Lynn Cooper of the communications department, general education has remained in the same basic structure since the 1920s.
Dr. Roger Lundin of the English department shared his input that, “When (the proposal) is adopted, the new core curriculum will give greater flexibility to students and faculty alike. Students will be able to shape their core (general education) training to fit more closely with their educational objectives and intellectual interests. At the same time, the new program will encourage individual faculty members and their departments to be more innovative, integrative, and interdisciplinary in the way they approach teaching and student learning. As my colleague Jim Wilhoit and student Abby Canfield both claimed in their presentation, this curriculum represents a ‘win for faculty’ as well as a ‘win for students.’”
According to Summit Student Representative and EVP of Educational Policies Abigail Canfield, students were listened to and taken seriously throughout the creation of the Christ at the Core proposal. Canfield, a senior, stated that, “Serving on the Gen Ed Summit Committee has been a joy and an honor for me, and SG has had many other formal opportunities to speak into the proposal.”
On Nov. 5, Student Government decided to use their twelve votes to support Christ at the Core. They made this decision based on their confidence in the program and the belief that it will be a benefit to the student body. Additionally, they received much positive feedback from students, especially at the General Education Information Night two weeks ago.
Over the next six months, several committees will continue to refine the learning objectives, or “outcomes,” for each piece of the curriculum. Each of these committees will include a student representative who will play an important role in the process. The curriculumwill be fully implemented during the 2016-2017 school year.
Student Government has encouraged students to keep an eye out for emails from them with more information and opportunities for students to give feedback on general education reform. Canfield added, “As always, SG would love to hear from you.”