The State Board of Agriculture today approved a new core curriculum for Colorado State University that will guarantee a more rigorous, consistent general education for all Colorado State undergraduates.
In a unanimous vote, the board approved the new framework, which was passed by the university’s Faculty Council at a special meeting March 31. The new core establishes the set of classes and experiences all students – no matter what their major – must have in common before they receive a Colorado State diploma.
Colorado State President Albert Yates said the new core marked a major step forward in the quality of undergraduate education at the university.
"Nationwide, colleges and universities are being told to do a better job of ensuring that graduates are prepared not only to hold jobs, but to assume their responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society," Yates said. "In responding to these concerns, Colorado State has not been content merely to tinker with the old ways of doing business. This new core is a significant statement about our expectations of students and the quality of education our university provides."
The new core will require students to take a series of courses to obtain core competencies in written communication, mathematics, logic/critical thinking, a second language and some additional communication. Students also will have to meet some basic "foundations and perspectives" requirements in the following categories: biological and/or physical science, arts and humanities, social/behavioral sciences, historical perspectives, global and cultural awareness, U.S. public values/institutions, and health and wellness. Finally, all students will have a series of experiences designed to integrate their studies and provide a deeper level of learning: first-year seminars, capstone courses within their majors, writing-across-the-curriculum within their majors and other experiences designed to provide depth and integration of knowledge within the chosen field of study.
"This new curriculum slashes the number of courses from which students may choose their core requirements, ensuring that all graduates will participate in a carefully defined set of course offerings," interim Provost Loren Crabtree said. "Colorado State always has been an institution that cares about its students. This change in the core curriculum is a reflection of that, and shows how we are focused not on what we as faculty teach, but rather on what our students learn."
Crabtree said this core of courses will apply to all Colorado State students, and will be coupled with plans to add more classes of 20 students or less, particularly in the first two years of a student’s education. The university also is developing plans to link the students from these small classes throughout their academic careers in classes in particular subject matters.
"What we intend to do is to try to create a cohort of students who begin together in these small classes, and then link these students together as they continue their education."
Crabtree emphasized that the new core will not affect the transfer of students or the transferability of courses from community colleges or other four-year institutions. The phasing of the new curriculum is expected to occur in consultation with community colleges and others.
"The focused nature of this core will offer all of our students a better education, and that applies to our transfer students, who are very important to us. In fact, this new focus will not only help outline the expectations for students who begin with us as freshman, but will also provide a clearer picture of expectations to that important group of students who transfer to our university," Crabtree said. "The introduction of this new core will be as seamless as possible to our students, including our transfer students, and the end result will be a better education for all."
Yates noted that the new core is part of a comprehensive effort within the university to emphasize and improve undergraduate education and to promote integrated learning.
"Students today are less homogeneous than students of 30 or 40 years ago, with vast differences in learning styles and life experiences," he said. "This means our university has to change, to make better use of learning technologies and provide expanded opportunities for learning in small teams, through internships and practicums. And we can’t expect the people of Colorado to throw us more money to make these needed changes. Instead, we must restructure our work and reallocate dollars – as we did this year to increase the number of classes offered with fewer than 20 students."
Penelope Bauer, chairwoman of Faculty Council, said: "I believe we’ve created a solid foundation for building the best core curriculum possible. While it’s satisfying to have accomplished so much, we have a substantial amount of work left to do."
A task force recommended by the Executive Committee of Faculty Council will develop guidelines for proposals of courses to be considered by colleges and departments for the core curriculum. The guidelines will be presented to Faculty Council’s University Curriculum Committee this fall.
The new curriculum will be phased into the university, possibly starting as early as fall 1999, Bauer said.
Following is a list of the all-university core curriculum.
- Written communication, 3 credits
- Additional communication, 3 credits
- Mathematics, 3 credits
- Logic and critical thinking, 3 credits
- Second language, CAPS (Core Academic Preparation Standards)
Foundations and Perspectives
- Biological and/or physical sciences, 7 credits
- Arts and humanities, 3 credits
- Social and behavioral sciences, 3 credits
- Historical perspectives, 3 credits
- Global and cultural perspectives, 3 credits
- U.S. public values and institutions, (3 credits)
- Health and wellness, 2 credits
- First-year Seminar, (2-3 credits)
- Capstone Course (major)
- Writing across the Curriculum (major)
- Depth/Integration (major)
Total credits: 33-39