Update on Goucher’s curriculum change

By: Destiny Lugardo

The administration held an open forum about the upcoming curriculum changes on Thursday, March 9th in the Heubeck Dining Hall. Provost Leslie Lewis, alongside Associate Provost La Jerne Cornish, facilitated the discussion and opened up for questions at the end.

As previously covered by The Goucher Eye, the most notable overhauls to the curriculum include the switch from three credit to four credit courses, Liberal Education Requirements (LERs) becoming Goucher Commons Requirements (GCRs), and Capstone courses becoming mandatory in all majors. The meeting was held to inform the Goucher community about the modifications.

The switch to four credit classes, a significant change for current students, was explained in further detail. Most Goucher students will take four classes each semester, instead of five classes. One and two credit courses will still be offered. This cutback will allow students to enhance their focus on the smaller course load they are taking.

Students who are still completing LERs should not experience difficulty in completing them with the four credit switch since most LER courses are four credit classes anyway, according to Provost Lewis.

Provost Lewis stressed that the biggest change as a result of four credit classes is in how majors are fulfilled. Students who have yet to begin a major should expect to fulfill the requirements of the newly designed major of their choice. Those who are already progressing within a major should reach out to their advisor to discuss their academic plans and how they may differentiate regarding the switch to four credit courses.

Provost Lewis also addressed the concerns of students who are worried about being unable to complete a major or general requirements before their expected graduation date, due to the credit change, stating: “Certainly the goal is to make sure that you don’t stay here longer in order to graduate. No way.”

Beginning Fall 2017, all instructors are required to implement a “Final Experience” component into their courses. These experiences will come in the form of projects, presentations, or one on one conferences that are meant to guide students to critically reflect on what they have learned in the course. A final exam will also count as a final experience.

Students will be asked to compile work throughout their time at Goucher that best showcase who they are and what they have to offer as potential employees into a portfolio. Submitting a portfolio will become mandatory for all students, along with completing a Capstone course within a major. Portfolios can be created using a non-traditional medium, such as a website.

Portfolios, Capstones, and “Final Experiences” are all included in the new Goucher Commons Curriculum to reinforce two key disciplines in a liberal arts education: reflection and intentionality.  

Notable changes to the academic calendar were also revealed in the discussion. No classes will be offered from 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM next semester. Common hour will be Wednesday from 1:30 PM to 2:15 PM.

Fall break and both reading periods are a day longer and an advising day was added.  Students will now have the opportunity to meet with their advisors and adjust schedules before the semester begins. A symposium day is reserved for each semester in an effort to encourage students to attend Capstone presentations. Classes will be canceled on both advising day and symposium day.

Beginning Fall 2018 (subject to change), a two-credit Gateway to Individual Interdisciplinary Major course will be offered. Associate Provost Cornish also announced that a new Legal Studies Minor was confirmed at the most recent faculty meeting.

All current students are still required to complete Liberal Education Requirements (LERs) and achieve proficiency in both forms of writing (college writing and writing proficiency within the major) and foreign language proficiency. However, new students entering into the Class of 2021 are required to complete Goucher Commons Requirements (GCRs).

GCRs still include a first-year seminar (formerly called Frontiers). New students, however, are now required to take three Center-based Exploration Courses from their second semester of freshman year to their last semester of sophomore year. Academic Centers, introduced this year, are paired up with another. Students take three courses within Center pairings that are not within their major. For example, a business major would take one course in the DMT (Dance, Music, and Theatre) and Art & Media pairing, one course in the Geographies of Justice & Culture and Humanities pairing, and one course in the Natural Sciences and Psychology pairing.

Along with Center-based courses, a revised Common Inquiry is also included in the new Goucher Commons Curriculum. The Environmental Sustainability requirement remains, and a new Race, Power, and Perspective inquiry was added.  

Study Abroad stays put as well, but the curriculum’s approach to study abroad was revised. Provost Lewis stressed that the requirement is not as effective if it is fulfilled during a student’s senior year or after they walk in graduation. For new students, study abroad is expected to take place the second semester of their sophomore year or their junior year.

Provost Lewis also elaborated on the ideal approach the faculty is hoping its students utilize when choosing a study abroad program: “One of the things we’re asking students to do is think about who you are and where you are as you come to Goucher as a student and then think about who you are and where you are as you choose your study abroad experience.”

Incoming students need to achieve both writing and foreign language proficiency along with the new data analytics requirements. Two courses, one introductory and one applied data analytics will be required to achieve breadth in that area.

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