Campus News

General education curriculum revamped after four years of study and discussion

After nearly four years of study and discussion, UGA will implement a new general education curriculum that will become operational for first-year students beginning in summer 2008. The general education-or “core”-curriculum had not been changed since conversion to the semester system in 1997-98.

“UGA’s new general education curriculum continues to embody liberal arts principles while attempting to better prepare undergraduate students for the future,” said Jere Morehead, vice president for instruction. “The new curriculum recognizes that the world will be more connected globally and fosters a more challenging course of study for our students.”

The genesis of the latest changes was the 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement that indicated UGA students were not as challenged as students at many peer and aspirational institutions in regard to time studying, writing and other measures of student rigor.

In response, Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. put together a task force to examine the undergraduate experience at UGA and make recommendations for improvements. The task force, co-chaired by Morehead and Del Dunn, then-vice president for instruction, met throughout the 2004-05 academic year, examining reports on general education reform, researching the core curriculum at other universities and soliciting input from faculty and students. An Academic Affairs Symposium held that spring provided feedback on various recommendations before the final version of the report was issued to the provost prior to the start of the 2005-06 academic year.

With the report in hand, the provost charged the University Curriculum Committee’s Subcommittee on General Education with translating the conceptual work of the task force into actual changes to the curriculum.

The subcommittee, chaired by Jan Hathcote, developed the general education curriculum that replaces the old core curriculum, and defined “general education abilities” that encompass learning outcomes expected for all undergraduates.These outcomes include the ability to communicate effectively through speech and writing, critical thinking and moral reasoning. Courses in any discipline and at any level, though not necessarily part of the general education curriculum, may satisfy these learning outcomes.

The subcommittee’s proposal for the new general education curriculum was given to the full University Curriculum Committee in March 2006 to solicit input from individual schools and colleges. The proposed changes were subsequently sent to all faculty in September 2006 and a forum was held that month to collect more faculty input.

The new curriculum was finally submitted to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Council on General Education in April 2007, and approved with stipulations pertaining to new course proposals.

Last fall, departments began submitting courses for approval using a new online process. A list of courses to be offered this fall as part of the new core was approved by the University Curriculum Committee in January. Courses not previously included in the core curriculum were submitted to the Council on General Education for consideration.

“The university community has spent considerable time and energy on this project,” said Morehead. “The Office of Curriculum Systems, under the direction of Fiona Liken, has done an excellent job of keeping this complicated process moving forward in a timely manner.”

Additional courses continue to be submitted by departments and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. New courses can be submitted at any time. Courses also will be reviewed periodically to make sure they meet the learning outcomes of the specific areas within the general education curriculum.