Core Committee Releases Report

Educational Goals Take Priority Over Size of New Core

By Meaghan Dillon
News Co-Editor
Published: December 13, 2007

FCLC—As a result of the university’s Strategic Plan to become the preeminent Catholic university in the nation by 2016, plans to revise and ultimately reduce the current Core Curriculum have been in effect. The Core Curriculum Development Committee recently issued the October Report, which outlines the most up-to-date revisions of the Core. Members of the committee said that the goal is no longer to reduce the Core in size, but to figure out what is necessary in a core education and allow more opportunities for students to take electives or major courses.

“To say that the initial intention was to reduce the Core is to overstate the matter,” said the Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and a member of the development committee. The reduction of the Core came from language within the Strategic Plan, which called for a smaller and more focused Core, Grimes said.

“What they found was that the more they talked about it and saw what elements were necessary in the core and were true to Fordham, they found that it couldn’t meet only the goal of reducing its size,” he said.

The current proposal, according to the October Report, is an outline of a 14 to 17 course Core, which at maximum will be the same size as the current Core, but at the minimum could have three fewer courses than the current Core.

According to Richard Gyug, associate professor of history and co-chair of the development committee, the current Core was not achieving its goals. There were uncoordinated introductory courses with no follow-up. “It is not desirable,” he said.

“We are going to try to transform [the Core] to run through the education,” Gyug said, referring to the goal, which will extend the Core through the students’ four years, rather than condense it in the first two years. “This will allow room each year, including freshman year, for the student to take electives and begin major study earlier,” he said.

“In addition to offering more elective freedom, the committee hopes that the new Core will have a more integrated approach to education, with brand new, more interdisciplinary courses and a build on knowledge from freshman year courses,” Gyug said.

“Instead of focusing on the number of courses, the committee decided that it was more beneficial to focus on covering what the student needs to know, and what was essential to cover at a Jesuit university,” Gyug said.

At this point, the committee can only give a broad outline of a possible Core Curriculum, Grimes said. It is now up to the faculty departments to come up with a more narrow focus and “flush out their exact role in the new Core.”

By mid-December, the committee will have a better idea of how to proceed after speaking with department chairs, and then a January Report will be issued in order to “fill in the blanks,” Gyug noted. In March, there will be a faculty-wide vote, and then the proposal will be taken to the Board of Trustees, in order to implement the new Core in the fall of 2009, he said.

The Observer has learned that after the most recent reports from most departments, the committee will not be able to move forward until the departments are in an agreement with a Core outline. There are many contradicting positions, such as the groups who welcome the addition of a second science, while others are in favor of its reduction in the current Core proposal. Additionally, several groups questioned whether or not there should be second courses in philosophy and theology, which, in the current proposal, have four courses, each to be taken in one of the four undergraduate years.

“Incoming freshmen will see [the new Core] through, and the above classes will not be affected by it unless they choose to,” Gyug said.

In the past, student fora were held to get feedback from students on the current Core and how it can be improved. Grimes said that elements of student feedback “have definitely come up in the committee meetings,” and have been points in several discussions when revising the Core.

However, Gyug admitted that it was difficult to get feedback from students who said that the future Core would not be affecting them anyway.

Though the October Report said that the primary goal of the Core development committee is to cover the “educational priorities described by the faculty,” there are still possibilities for reducing the Core in the upcoming proposal.