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Founders Plaza

Open forums seek feedback on new gen ed curriculum

By SUE WUETCHER

Published September 4, 2014

Members of the UB community will have the opportunity to weigh in on a proposal for a restructured general education curriculum during open forums being held this month on the North and South campuses.

Sessions will be held from 3-4.30 p.m. Sept. 16 in 105 Harriman Hall, South Campus, and from 1-3 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Screening Room in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.

The North campus session will be videotaped and posted online for those unable to attend. Feedback may also be provided online.

A progress report outlining the General Education Committee’s work on the revised curriculum, as well as a complementary FAQ, are available online and provide “the point of departure” for the open forum discussions that will determine the next steps for the proposal, according to Andrew Stott, dean of undergraduate education and chair of the General Education Committee.

The committee will consider feedback received about the proposal and submit a final plan for a revised gen ed curriculum to the Faculty Senate for approval, most likely later this fall.

The new gen ed curriculum is part of the “curricular distinction” initiative, one of the two signature initiatives — along with Communities of Excellence — to be launched from Realizing UB 2020. Stott calls a revamped general education program “one of the pillars of curricular distinction.”

Provost Charles F. Zukoski has said restructuring the gen ed program “will have impact across our campus and fundamentally transform education at UB. A new gen ed curriculum will enrich our students’ educational experience and help prepare them to succeed in today’s world.”

The effort to revise and reinvigorate UB’s gen ed program began formally last May and builds upon a 2009 report on general education produced by a task force assembled by then-Provost Satish K. Tripathi. The massive undertaking has involved nearly 140 faculty and staff members and students across the university since 2009.

The key elements of the plan include:

  • Shared intellectual experiences with requirements that must be met by all undergraduates irrespective of major.
  • Strong foundation courses in communicative literacy, scientific inquiry and quantitative reasoning.
  • A first-year seminar, ideally taught by tenure-track faculty, that tackles conceptual problems from a disciplinary perspective while also developing critical thinking and ethical reasoning.
  • Themed clusters introducing students to themed learning built around the UB 2020 institutional themes of health, humanity, innovation, justice and environment. Students will look at different disciplines through “thematic lenses,” drawing information from different disciplinary fields and methodologies.
  • An integrative capstone. Throughout the program, students will be asked to reflect on their studies and draw its disparate parts together to make meaning from the courses they’ve taken.