Faculty Votes for New Core Curriculum

Faculty Members Approve Core for Fall 2009


Published: April 17, 2008

The final decision regarding the implementation of the new Core Curriculum for Fordham was made by a faculty-wide vote that took place on March 31. A majority of the faculty voted to implement the new Core, starting in the fall of 2009. The Core Curriculum Development Committee presented its most recent proposal to the heads of all academic departments on Feb. 1, almost a year and a half after the project was first taken on.

The main goal of the Committee in redesigning the Core was to foster an “increasingly prepared and academically talented student body that will be capable of more advanced levels of study” at all colleges of Fordham University, according to the latest proposal.

Richard Gyug, associate professor of history and co-chair of the Development Committee, said that out of 328 eligible faculty, 254 cast ballots, 221 voted yes, 23 voted no and 10 abstained. “This is a strong endorsement of the plan,” Gyug stated. Gyug said that the new Core technically contains the same number of courses as the present core, but “the students’ experience will be changed considerably.

“Many parts of the present Core are desirable,” Gyug stated. The Committee wanted to be sure not to eliminate these beneficial aspects, he said. The biggest problem that Gyug and the Committee found with the present Core was with its structure. The fact that all Core classes are compounded into the first two years of a student’s college career at Fordham results in “two distinct educations.” Students tend to forget what they learn in their Core classes because they never build on that basic knowledge, Gyug said.

“Every department rethought each Core course; in every case, they came up with one introductory course, followed by an upper level or interdisciplinary course,” Gyug commented. This reworking has led to a plan that gives students more options within the Core.

The new Core gives students time in their first two years of study to take electives, while the Core courses they take can “complement and contextualize” their major classes, according to the Core Curriculum Development Committee. According to Gyug, studies show that students disproportionately tend to major in subjects that they took as electives early in their college career, rather than in subjects that they took as Core courses.

Gyug spoke extensively about the implementation of the eloquentia perfecta (EP) format of teaching in the new Core, which will pervade all values seminars and texts and contexts classes. These EP courses, of which there will be four over the course of four years, take the place of the Freshman Seminar and dedicate at least one-fifth of overall class time to written and oral expression.

Although the new Core resembles the present Core at first, Gyug pointed out specific changes in certain subjects. The modifications in the English department reflect the overall goals of the new Core. Students will still be required to complete Composition and Rhetoric, but the second introductory course has been eliminated. The next course in the sequence, Texts and Contexts, will not be a single course, but will offer a few options for students to choose from. Students also have a choice in the final step of this sequence, in which they choose two out of three advanced interdisciplinary courses in literature, history or social science. This will fulfill the requirement in each of these subjects.

Other significant changes include science courses that combine the two physical and two life science courses into one and a more intensive language sequence, which is capped at four semesters. In addition, College of Business Administration (CBA) and Ailey students will not be required to take science.

Current Fordham students have also expressed approval of the proposed Core. Dana Ferrero, FCLC ’10, praised the potential for early major study available in the new Core. “I like the fact that the Core makes you well-rounded, but for people who know what they want to major in, it can be frustrating to not be able to take major classes for an entire two years,” Ferrero commented.

Dave de la Fuente, FCLC ’10 and president of United Student Government (USG), said he is happy with the revised Core. “The way [the Core] functions right now is more as a gauntlet that a student must get through, rather than a foundation that supplements one’s specialization in any field of study,” de la Fuente said. Like Ferrero, de la Fuente commended the fact that the new Core is spread out over four years and feels that the new core will be “something that enhances study in any field.

“I’m quite glad for the changes,” de la Fuente said. “Future Fordham students will benefit from a cohesive and comprehensive Core.”