Faculty Approve GE Reform

OLE Core now goes to Board of Regents for discussion

The final draft of the new General Education (GE) curriculum passed an all-faculty vote on Thursday, Nov. 7. Over three-quarters of the faculty present voted in favor of the new GE curriculum, OLE Core. The curriculum was amended at the Nov. 7 faculty meeting to include an Active Body requirement and allow double-counting of GEs for classes in course sequences.

Prior to the faculty vote, the Board of Regents had expressed support for the new curriculum. They will review it during their February meeting and are expected to express their support, said Jon Naito, department chair of English and member of the GE Task Force.

The GE Task Force has been working on the new curriculum for over three years, spearheaded by student representatives Ulises Jovel ’20 and Myrtó Neamonitaki ’20 and various faculty members. The Task Force’s work represents the first major motion to update the GE curriculum in about 25 years.

“Finally, the hard work that we’ve [past and present members] been doing has paid off,” Neamonitaki said. “It has shown that in the end there are people who want the system to change and who will fight to see their students happier and represented.”

The OLE Core works to amend a number of problems identified through forums between students, faculty and administrators over the 2017-18 academic year. Through these forums, the GE Task Force found that the current GE curriculum was “not as equitable or inclusive” as the mission of the College requires, according to a May 2018 Task Force report.

The GE Task Force also aims to make the curriculum smaller and more flexible, according to a May 2019 presentation to the Board of Regents. The final draft of the GE curriculum cut the maximum number of courses needed to complete the curriculum from 26 to 16.
However, faculty voted with a 72 percent approval to add a wellness requirement, which would add another GE to OLE Core.

The Active Body requirement would provide a more holistic, body-based learning experience than the former Studies in Physical Movement (SPM) requirement. The GE Task Force initially chose not to include the SPM in the OLE Core due to the ableist nature of the courses offered, Neamonitaki said.

The authors of the Active Body requirement hope to develop additional courses with inclusivity and accessibility in mind – they acknowledge in the amendment how the word “active” could be exclusive and are open to alternative language.

“The Active Body requirement isn’t a renaming of the current SPM requirement, but a re-envisioning of experiencing and learning using the body in motion as the primary mode of inquiry,” said Heather Klopchin, department chair of dance and co-author of the amendment.

The Integrative Coursework amendment passed with a 69 percent majority vote. The new amendment allows double-counting for classes in course sequences like the conversation programs. In previous drafts of OLE Core, double-counting was not allowed for these courses as part of the Task Force’s goal to discourage the “check-list” mentality.
The amendment recognizes that learning goals are not always accomplished in a single course, but rather through a collection of courses.

“It often happens that multiple requirements are conferred administratively in the last course – not because the course in isolation contains all the learning, but because it represents the culmination of several streams of learning,” the Integrative Coursework resolution reads. “The new OLE Core should allow for the recognition of such integrations.”

“Finally, the hard work that we’ve [past and present members] been doing has paid off. It has shown that in the end there are people who want the system to change and who will fight to see their students happier and represented.”
– Myrtó Neamonitaki ’20

The new amendment will allow sequenced courses to carry more than two GEs in a single class similar to the current process.

Neamonitaki said she is proud of the work the Task Force has done so far and is “excited and hopeful” to see how implementation will support progress towards a more inclusive curriculum.

The OLE Core curriculum will take effect in fall 2021 for first-year students. Second-year and upperclass students will continue to operate under the current system, while some classes will cater to both the new and old curriculums. Due to a sunset provision included in the final draft, the new curriculum will remain in effect no longer than ten years.



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