Core curriculum prepares students

While continued construction is a reminder of physical transformations on campus, an academic change is also taking place with the start of the semester.

A revised core curriculum is being introduced, which will increase the number of required courses in the core for all new students who receive an undergraduate degree.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steve Oldham said the new core is comprised of the courses that the faculty and university believe are necessary for a basic education, regardless of a student’s major.

“Mary Hardin-Baylor is committed to a broad-based education, so when we ask ourselves, ‘What does broad based mean for us?,’ that’s what a core is about,” he said. “It’s making sure those basic things are accomplished. It’s a broad-based education that prepares all of our students for a very complex world.”

Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Cathleen Early, who has been heavily involved with the new curriculum, said it will go into effect starting this semester.

“All new students from this point forward, both transfer and freshman, who start at UMHB this fall under the 2012-2013 catalog, or later, will be required to follow the new curriculum,” she said.

“Returning students will still follow the catalog that was in place when they enrolled, so long as they graduate within six years of that catalog going into effect.”

With a total of 46 semester hours, the new core curriculum is larger than the previous one and has some significant additions.

Some of the major changes include an increase in the math and science fields. All undergraduates will now need seven hours of science, and every student will have to take at least one math class.

Oldham said, “We think that it’s really important in our age of technology and information explosion that students have an understanding of science and math.”

A literature class will also be a requirement; however, Oldham said the English department has expanded its course offerings to include a wider variety of options.

“While students now have to take a literature course they may have not otherwise taken, we hope it will be something they enjoy and is meaningful to them,” he said.

In addition, three semester hours of fine arts will be required, and students will have to attend one fine arts experience each semester. These events on campus are specifically designated by the College of Visual and Performing Arts as FAEs.

Oldham said, “We think the arts are really important for our own flourishing as believers. We believe God is creator. He’s created beautiful things and given us the ability.”

Throughout the process of designing the core curriculum, new categories were set in place to encompass many of the required courses. The new categories are Contemporary World Issues, Scientific Inquiry and World Ideas.

Many classes have been tweaked to fit these categories so that students can take them to fulfill the newly revised core requirements.

Professor and Chair for the computer science and engineering department Dr. Bill Tanner said that while it has been a lot of work for faculty to come up with the curriculum and accommodate the changes, it is something they are looking forward to.

“The professors that I know who are involved in the core are very interested and excited about the fact that we’re going to get to teach something that we’ve had a hand in designing,” Tanner said.

He thinks the changes made in the curriculum will be especially beneficial to students as their education progresses.

“One of the motivations was that we felt students should be given the opportunity to prepare for upper level classes in a specific way that would be most beneficial to them,” he said.

Early said the changes still coincide with the mission of the school.

“Our new core shows our strong commitment to our mission statement. The new requirements show that we are dedicated to Christian education in a global society.”

Author: JC Jones

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