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2016-17 Review of General Education

This memo was drafted prior to the Faculty Forum in an effort to summarize what the CEC is doing, why it is doing it, and when it hopes to do get it done.

August 15, 2016

TO:  Colorado College Faculty
FROM:  Henry Fricke, Chair of the Curriculum Executive Committee
RE:  Review of general education at Colorado College

At the 2016 block 6 faculty meeting, the faculty voted in favor of charging the CEC to review the state of general education at Colorado College as the committee's priority.  What follows summarizes the current state of affairs, outlines how this review will take place and some desired outcomes, and finally provides a preliminary schedule of the review.

WHAT is ‘general education’?

General education (Gen Ed) is course work all students complete, independent of major, that reflects the vision of liberal arts education at a particular institution.  Gen Ed often takes the form of a set of core courses required of all students, for example CC’s Critical Perspective & language requirements. There are, however, many other approaches to Gen Ed utilized across the country that range from thematically-linked Gen Ed courses to individualized programs of Gen Ed study. 

WHY review general education now?

As part of the recent Strategic Planning process, the college developed and presented a summary of its vision for undergraduate education and of its core values.  Although each required ‘Critical Perspective’ has a clearly stated purpose*, the way in which the perspectives relate as a whole to this broad vision and to these values is not clear.  In particular there is no description of the goals and learning outcomes associated with all-college requirements, and how they help students “…develop those habits of intellect and imagination that will prepare them for learning and leadership throughout their lives”*. 

The CEC was created, in part, to be able to clarify the relationship between general education and broader college goals in a more holistic manner, and thus address questions and concerns of faculty and students regarding general education at CC**. In its first year, the CEC worked to prepare for this campus-wide discussion and review that we are about to undertake.

*(from the CC Mission Statement)

**(see faculty comments and the Student Petition of Spring 2015)

HOW will the review process work?

Because general education requirements are part of the college curriculum and reflect its academic mission, it is the role of the faculty to review them and to propose changes or alternative approaches. Input to the CEC from faculty members is paramount, although input will also be solicited from academic support staff and from students. The CEC will facilitate discussion of this topic, develop proposals, and submit its proposals to the faculty for review and approval.

WHAT are the goals of the review?

  1. To describe the role of general education at CC, and to develop goals & learning outcomes that should be associated with it.
  2. To discuss different models for achieving general education goals at CC, and to develop plan(s) for putting them into practice.

Timeline (preliminary)

Fall 2016:  begin faculty discussion of the issue at Fall Forum.  Hold follow-up meetings with faculty during the fall semester.  Solicit input from academic support staff.  CEC develops a preliminary set of goals & outcomes by the end of the semester.

Spring 2017:  CEC solicits input from students, and then presents set of goals & outcomes to faculty for approval. CEC researches different general education models used across the country, and presents several possibilities to faculty by the end of the semester. 

Fall 2017:  faculty discussion of different general education models at Fall Forum. CEC presents a general education curriculum for faculty approval by the end of the semester.