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viewpoint

Leaders of curriculum review invite feedback

| Monday, February 16, 2015

This year, as the University does every 10 years, the faculty is reviewing the core curriculum, consulting all faculty — and asking for feedback from undergraduates and alumni — about what every Notre Dame student should learn before graduation. We are the co-chairs of the committee charged by University President Fr. John Jenkins and Provost Thomas Burish to undertake this effort.

We write to invite you to participate in this process. As most of you know, all undergraduates are required to take a University Seminar; one course each in writing and rhetoric, in the fine arts or literature, in history and in the social sciences; as well as two courses each in mathematics, in the natural sciences, in philosophy and in theology. Next year, the University will also launch the First Year Experience course as a successor to the physical educational requirement. This core curriculum is designed to serve as the foundation of Notre Dame’s liberal arts education.

No recommendations for any change, let alone decisions on whether to implement recommendations, have yet been made. The committee plans to issue a draft report in fall 2015 based on its analysis of the ideas and feedback gathered, at which point the conversation will continue as the entire University community responds to the assessments and recommendations presented in that working document.

What has begun is the search for answers. How can Notre Dame as a Catholic university prepare and inspire undergraduates to serve their families, their communities and the global society, including the Church? What do our students most need to know to prepare for life after college? How best can Notre Dame instantiate its Catholic identity in the core curriculum, engaging and inspiring as many faculty and students as possible? How can we develop a curriculum that embodies the Catholic idea of the unity of knowledge across disciplines? How do we challenge students coming to Notre Dame with increasingly strong and sophisticated backgrounds in areas as diverse as math and history? Should we permit Advanced Placement testing, and if so, how? Who should teach entry-level courses, and why?

The answers to these questions are obviously complex. And curricular reviews as a consequence are lengthy. But we believe the process itself will deepen our understanding of and commitment to our most important and shared educational tasks.

Certainly the best answers to the questions posed and the best recommendations for improvement come with broad consultation and deep deliberation — which is where undergraduate students, too, must play a role. We are meeting with representatives of student government and are holding forums for students from a wide array of majors and dorms — but we would like to invite all students to write us at corerevw@nd.edu to express their views.

Through the forums and meetings we have held so far (and many more are to come) we have found the students, faculty, staff, alumni and leadership of Notre Dame to be engaged and passionate about our curriculum. Some have argued for changes, both minor and major; others have argued to keep the core requirements just as they are. In all cases, our conversations thus far have been stimulating, and we are both grateful that we were given the opportunity to work with all of you and the Notre Dame family on this review.

We do encourage your comments. It is an exciting time to work and study at Notre Dame, and we are confident that this core curriculum review process will help us fulfill our mission to be “a Catholic academic community of higher learning, animated from its origins by the Congregation of Holy Cross … and dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake.”

Sincerely,

 

Gregory Crawford

dean

College of Science

co-chair of the Core Curriculum Review Committee

 

John McGreevy

dean

College of Arts and Letters

co-chair of the Core Curriculum Review Committee

Feb. 14

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • NotCosulted

    “the faculty is reviewing the core curriculum, consulting all faculty ”
    The faculty is not reviewing the core curriculum. The administration is doing so.
    I am a member of the faculty and have not been consulted.

    • what no really

      Maybe they haven’t gotten to you yet?

    • RM

      NotCo(n)sulted,

      Maybe the faculty should be forced to take a spelling course?

  • Johnny Whichard

    Just my two cents as a recent alum; as a business consulting and film production double major, I would have rather taken two more film classes than take any science courses (which are completely irrelevant to my career). I definitely enjoyed theology and philosophy, however!