Asbury Updates Core Curriculum Requirements
Asbury University’s General Education core — a significant portion of each undergraduate’s degree plan and the basis of the University’s liberal arts philosophy — has been updated for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Now called Foundational Courses, the retooled system is the work of three years of analysis and discussion by the faculty of the University on the purpose and value of liberal arts education. The end result not only better accommodates strategic growth in course offerings and University programs, but it also lends itself to more effective evaluation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Asbury’s accrediting agency.
“For a long time, we trusted that most students would more or less understand what we mean by liberal arts learning, and for some of them, it is still self-evident,” said English Professor Dan Strait. “But we do have a culture now that increasingly questions the value of a liberal arts education, deferring to what it thinks are more practical forms of education. Our students pick up these biases along the way and convince themselves they don’t really need to take courses in art and music and even Bible or theology.”
The new arrangement provides a framework through which students and professors can discuss the “big” questions of life — for example, “Who is God?” and “Why do good people suffer?” — through the lens of each discipline. Each course in the core group of classes taken by undergraduate students is now tied to at least one of five learning outcomes:
- Integrating Christian Faith and Culture (Bible, Theology, Ethics and Philosophy)
- Discovering Human Thought and Creative Expression (Art, Music, English, Communication)
- Engaging Society and Global Responsibility (History, Social Sciences, World Languages)
- Achieving Qualitative and Critical Literacy (Mathematics, Computer Science)
- Searching the Natural World and the Environment (Natural Sciences, Physical Education)
One of the new Foundational Courses requirements is a three-credit-hour liberal arts enrichment course and a one-hour liberal arts survey course, both of which are still being developed by faculty members on the Liberal Arts Council. The cross-cultural experience, a requirement that students spend at least a week immersed in another culture, remains in the curriculum under the Engaging Society and Global Responsibility learning outcome.
“There’s a time and place for memorizing concepts and tucking away facts, but that also has to be animated by a spirit of conversation and inquiry, or classes become places where we dump information,” Strait said. “Real dialogue is the essence of great teaching. The inquiry-based model provides a coherent way of conveying to students that the reason they’re taking these classes is to keep in front of them those things which are essential to any deep and curious probing of the meaning of life.”
For more information about the Foundational Course requirements, read Asbury’s bulletin online.