The Collegian
Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Committee meets to discuss curriculum changes

Faculty, staff members and a student discussed potential changes to the University of Richmond's general education requirements on Friday during an open meeting hosted by the General Education Revision Committee.

The committee, overseen by the Provost's office, is charged with redesigning the general education curriculum to incorporate the academic goals laid out in The Richmond Promise, the university's strategic plan for 2009-14.

Gene Anderson, the committee's chairman, said Friday's meeting was the third open meeting last week. The committee, which has been meeting since last February, will hold six more open meetings this semester - three in October and three in November, Anderson said.

At Friday's meeting, discussion focused on the new first-year seminar course, which will replace the Core course next year.

Anderson, a professor in the music department, opened the meeting by posing a question about what he called "double dipping" -- allowing students to count their first-year seminars toward a field of study or even major requirements, in addition to being a substitute for Core.

Dean Simpson, a classics professor, said he saw an inherent problem with allowing first-year seminars to count as field of study requirements.

"Field-of-study courses are based in methodology," Simpson said. "The first-year seminars seem to be based in content. There's no way a professor can do both."

But, Simpson said, his department and other small departments may need to allow students to count the seminars toward their general education requirements.

"The Classics Department can't offer them if they don't count toward the major," he said of the seminars.

Anderson pointed out that some departments, like the sciences, would not be able to count first-year seminars toward majors because they would not include a lab component.

Joan L. Neff, associate provost, said traditionally, departments had been able to choose whether or not courses could count toward a major, and that would probably be the case with the first-year seminars, but the committee was still working on whether or not the courses should count toward field-of-study requirements.

During the meeting, attendees also addressed a wide range of other issues, including how many general education requirements the university should mandate, whether advising would need to be restructured as a result of curriculum changes and limiting the number of examination-based credits the university would accept. Examination-based credits are credits from Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs.

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Anderson said the other meetings had had more student attendance, and that those students had advocated steps to promote more flexibility in scheduling.

The General Education Revision Committee consists of Anderson; psychology professor Catherine Bagwell; Ann Hodges, Shari Moto, and Clark Williams from the T.C. Williams School of Law; computer science professor Barry Lawson; marketing professor Adam Marquardt; and Terry Price from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

Anderson said the committee would continue to meet throughout the semester and would work with the deans and other members of the university community before making any permanent changes to the curriculum.

Contact staff writer Emily Baltz at emily.baltz@richmond.edu