The General Education Revision Committee met with a group of about 25 students and faculty Wednesday morning to discuss possible changes to the general education requirements.
Gene Anderson, the committee's chair, along with Catherine Bagwell, Barry Lawson, and Clark Williams fielded questions in the hour-long meeting about the committee's two new models that would be implemented in fall 2011 if approved by the university faculty.
Both plans would increase the number of general education requirements from the current 13 units. Model A has 17 units across six fields of study and six competencies. Model B would require completion of 18 units across three fields of studies and seven competencies.
In the Model A, the current six fields of study - Historical Studies, Literary Studies, Natural Science, Social Analysis, Symbolic Reasoning, and Visual and Performing Art - would remain, but would be accompanied by five new competencies: Diversity/Global Awareness, Ethical Decision Making, Civic Engagement, Written Communication, and Oral Communication. The sixth competency would remain as four units of a second language. Written communication would require three units to fulfill, two of which would come from First Year Study courses.
Model B requires two units each in three areas of study: Humanities and Fine Arts, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and Social and Behavioral Science. It has the same competency requirements as Model A, but also includes one unit of Technological/Information Literacy.
Students at the meeting brought up issues with the increased general education requirements. The issue of not being able to double-major, a practice done by some students, was brought up. Anderson said that it would still be possible for students to double-major, as the new requirements could be completed in as little as eight units, which the same minimum number that the current plan requires.
"If students are able to choose the most efficient schedule," Anderson said, "students are able to fulfill requirements in eight units. The most extreme instance is 17-18 units.
"I don't see that happening."
Anderson said that some classes could meet more than one requirement and that certain classes for a student's major could also fulfill the requirements.
Junior Kelly Padden said that it would be very unlikely for students to complete their general education requirements with eight units, especially with the current lack of advising. Padden said that freshmen would need to be advised before their first semester.
Anderson cited the Roadmap to Success program, which sets up certain incoming freshmen with advisers over the summer, as something that could be expanded to help out freshmen.
Another student, senior Maggie Brown, said that the requirements would limit the number of classes students could take outside of their major.
"That's not the purpose of a liberal arts school," Brown said.
Bagwell said that the wide-range of general education classes would serve as the student's exposure to other areas.
"The point of general educations is to explore other disciplines," Bagwell said.
Anderson said that reaction to the plans has been mixed so far.
"Fields of study and areas of study are so different," Anderson said. "Faculty tends to prefer fields of study as they are more specific and they have a little more control over the courses. Students tend to like areas of study because they can take any course."
The committee has worked on these revisions since February in order to meet academic goals established in the Richmond Promise, the university's Strategic Plan for 2009-14. It meets such goals as an increase in civic engagement and diversity.
The seven member committee will revise the plans before officially proposing it to the university faculty for a vote on Dec. 10. Anderson expects to present both of the plans at that time. If neither one of these plans is approved by the faculty, the current system will remain in place.
Wednesday's meeting was the third this week with students and faculty, and ninth meeting overall for the committee.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at firstname.lastname@example.org