The fall freshman class brought new students as well as a new approach to general education with the rollout of the core curriculum program.
Gregory Haines, director of the Academic Exploration Program, said the core curriculum program is designed to enhance Bradley’s liberal arts education.
“The core curriculum is a complete programmatic change from the general education program,” Haines said. “It’s more so than just changing the names of the check boxes that you have to complete in order to graduate. It is more of an overhaul of the philosophy that is a liberal arts education.”
Haines said one of the main differences from the general education program is the core curriculum program will run courses throughout a student’s time at Bradley.
“The core curriculum is designed a little more intentionally to carry throughout your entire time at Bradley as opposed to being something that you do in your first two years,” Haines said. “It is a complete rethinking of general education.”
According to Haines, the university spoke to multiple sources to determine what skills should be taught that would be most useful in the workforce.
“We went to employers, we went to alumni, we went to parents and we went to current students and asked the questions, ‘What do graduates need to be able to do? Whether they come out of computer science and information systems, public relations or theater, what do they all need to be able to do?’” Haines said. “There were some components that were heavily emphasized by all of those parties.”
One of the components Haines said is important for employers is communication skills.
“You still have … your two composition classes, you still have your speech class, but writing skills are something that employers absolutely value,” Haines said. “And so, beyond the two composition classes, there is a new writing-intensive requirement that students must complete two courses to have this writing-intensive component in addition to those two composition classes. More often than not, students will be completing those writing-intensive courses outside of the English department.”
Haines said the additional writing requirements will be satisfied in courses specific to a student’s discipline. Furthermore, the changes will allow students to take other core curriculum classes in subjects they are interested in.
“It is more flexible,” Haines said. “It allows students to complete requirements in a new sort of way that can enable them to actually do it a little more efficiently, but absolutely allows them to do it more effectively.”
The current freshman class is the first to begin its Bradley education in the core curriculum program. However, students who started their Bradley education under the general education can opt in to the new core curriculum, according to Haines.
“Different colleges and different departments might have specific limitations on who can request to go into the core curriculum,” Haines said. “But the university policy says that students who entered under the general education program will have the option of opting in to the new core curriculum.”
The change comes at a time when the general education program had been used for decades, Haines said.
“There have been internal assessments as well as those external conversations that shed light on some areas that [general education] just did not permit students to develop skills in some areas that are increasingly important in the 21st century,” Haines said. “It was time to kind of look at that and to rethink what we need our students to be able to do.”
According to Haines, the conversation to change the general education program began five years ago. Kelly McConnaughay, the chair of core curriculum and the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has worked in depth to develop that program.
“She has been, I would say, the champion of this new effort,” Haines said. “She has chaired this entire process, she has been involved in conversations with everybody across campus and off campus. She has done a lot of work in the last five years to make this thing a reality.”
When asked about the core curriculum implementation, upperclassmen said they aren’t influenced one way or another on the new program.
“I don’t know anybody who is thinking about switching over; There would be no point,” junior social work major MaKayla Robbins said. “All of my gen eds are done, so why would I switch over and have to take more [classes] and possibly screw up when I have to graduate?”
Others haven’t heard about the switch from general education classes to the core curriculum program.
“My advisor tells me [what to do] and that’s how I know what to take and what I need to graduate; That’s how I’ve been going about this,” senior manufacturing engineering and technology major Kevin Rapp said.
Haines is hosting a series of core curriculum education workshops that will allow students to make the best available decision for themselves. The next workshops will be at 1 p.m. Oct. 25 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 in Baker Hall 153. Students who wish to attend the workshops should sign up at bit.ly/bccworkshop2.
For more information, regarding the core curriculum and the workshops, visit bradley.edu/bcc/toolkit.