GE6 changes will affect incoming freshmen
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2012 21:05
With changes being made since the ‘70s, the general education requirements are headed toward their sixth change (GE6). If the changes are approved by December, they will go into effect fall 2013.
While GE5 affected all students because it decreased the minimum amount of credits, GE6 will affect only incoming freshmen.
The Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs Stephen Light said, though the program is still in its early stages, the General Education Committee has already made some proposals. This committee is comprised of 12 faculty members and one student.
“There’s a lot of interest in general education on the part of the faculty,” Light said.
He said some members wish to keep the program the same, but others are looking for drastic change. There has been discussion of creating a foundation for first-year freshmen. There has even been discussion of creating general education themes, such as globalization. In this case, Light said students would be taking general education courses focusing on a single topic or multiple topics of their choice while fulfilling the SUNY general education requirements.
The General Education Committee Chair Tracie Guzzio said she knows people who are unhappy with the language option. The grouping of the arts and humanities also offends some people, she said. However, these are all still ideas. Nothing is set in stone, yet.
“We are trying to see if there are creative ways we can adhere to the SUNY GE requirements, but also educate our students,” she said. “You’re paying for a college education, and we want to make sure you’re getting a college education.”
Light said SUNY requires student learning outcomes in math, natural sciences, social sciences, American history, western civilization, other world civilizations, humanities, arts, foreign language and basic communication. Plattsburgh State added global issues as its own general education requirement in GE4.
The Provost for Academic Affairs James Liszka is part of the approval process once the general education program is made by the committee. After getting approved and possibly receiving suggestions and recommendations by administration, the proposal heads to the President’s office.
“That’s (academic standards and student outcomes) certainly the most important thing,” he said.
Besides ensuring the SUNY standards and requirements are met, the viability of the program is also assessed. Liszka said the program has to be offered in a sustainable manner. The academic quality of the proposal, along with the size of the general education program must also be examined before approving it, Liszka said.
In order to ensure the program results in positive student outcome, the administration office provided funding for Guzzio and a small team to attend an Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) conference. This summer, a five-member team will be sent to an AACU summer workshop in Maryland from June 2-6. Light said general education programs book authors will attend this workshop.
“It’s really a meeting of the top (general education) people of the country,” Light said.
Guzzio said the workshop is competitive to get into. In order to take part in the workshop, the team had to write a proposal stating program ideas, where its program needs help and its goals. Each day will include 10-hour workshops, with a mentor by the team’s side. With some of the best universities in the nation attending, Guzzio said the workshop will help the team unite plan with action.
“We have to be very active,” she said. “We’re required to come back with something.”
While some students may view the general education program as something they have to do, Liszka said the program is important for careers. It teaches students skills employers look for, including critical thinking, problem solving skills and global perspective.
“The bottom line is we want a general education program that is effective and meaningful to students and does the job it’s supposed to do,” he said.
Even though some are content with GE5, it was created within a month in December 2010. With such time constraints, Guzzio said the committee was unable to get involved between Christmas and beginning of classes. She said these changes had to be made because of budget cuts.
However, the general education program is supposed to be designed by faculty, Guzzio said, which is why they are remodeling it again. Along with faculty input, the committee is looking to find student input.
“We want to be thoughtful,” Guzzio said. “We want to take into account different departments, different divisions.”
The General Education Committee student representative, Robert Noonan said he has been talking to students about their opinions. While students prefer to just focus on their majors, Noonan said he enjoys general education courses.