University of Connecticut seeks to restructure the general education requirments

The UConn University Senate holds a meeting in Rome Ballroom to discuss topics such as the improvement of the student-teacher evaluation process and reimagining general education requirement courses on Monday, April 4, 2017 in Storrs, CT.  (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

The UConn University Senate holds a meeting in Rome Ballroom to discuss topics such as the improvement of the student-teacher evaluation process and reimagining general education requirement courses on Monday, April 4, 2017 in Storrs, CT.  (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

As the university seeks to restructure the general education requirements, a University of Connecticut delegation will participate in the Summer Institute on General Education and Assessments. The institute aims to further the university’s goal of communicating the values, goals and importance of general education.

The delegation is composed of seven UConn faculty members: Eric Schultz, Dan Burkey, Hedley Freake, Pam Bedore, Thomas Meacham, Lloyd Blanchard and Laura Yahn. The program will be held at Loyola University of Chicago from May 31 to June 3.  

According to the website for the institute, the teams will explore different models to redesign, and implement new practices to meet the needs of students.

“Drawing on many years of campus work, the Institute is framed around a set of Principles and Guidelines for redesigning and evaluating general education programs, curricula and pedagogy through which students can develop the 21st-century knowledge and skills necessary for work, life, and responsible citizenship,” the website of the Institute on General Education and Assessment reads.

Environmental literacy is one of the requirements that has caught the attention of students and faculty alike. There has been little information on it, and one of the senator asked what had happened to it.

Eric Schultz, Chair of the General Education Oversight Committee, said they were looking at alternative ways to incorporate environmental literacy into general education before being accepted to the institute.

“It’s a central goal that we will evaluate how [environmental literacy] will be incorporated after the summer program,” Schultz said.

Environmental literacy was submitted to the Senate last December because students believed it is a matter that affects not only the nation but the planet,

Last year, a task force was charged with investigating the degree to which the general education requirements were being met, their long term impact and whether they were up to date.

A problem with general education requirement is that they have been seen as box-checking who said that.

Schultz said he and his colleagues are hoping to gain knowledge on how to prepare models for revision of the general education and include things such as civility in discourse, environmental literacy and life skills.

Some of the changes could be seen as early as next fall, Schultz said.

“Attention to environmental issues has become embedded in the university's character, and environmental issues are becoming increasingly challenging for our nation and planet,” Schultz said.

The petition submitted by the students, emphasizes the importance of  environmental literacy. “Understanding the ethical and cultural dimensions of our relationship with the environment, as well as the challenges of protecting it, requires insights from multiple perspectives and disciplines, including the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences."


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.