A new requirement was proposed that would greatly change the general education requirements of the University of Connecticut. While any changes put in place would not affect current UConn students, it is important for undergraduates to advocate for the correct balance in gen-eds as we are the group toiling with the current requirements.
The focus of the proposal is the introduction of a new paradigm that is currently called “Delta Gen Eds.” This would be a restructuring of the current system meant to place more focus on modern issues rather than the content categories of before. The current requirements place an essentially even focus on humanities, social sciences, STEM and multiculturalism. These courses are good at exposing students to new ideas, but the layout allows students to miss some topics and ideas that the group behind the current proposal feel are core to the modern human experience.
As chairman of the committee Eric Schultz outlined, the Delta Gen Eds would be focused on topics of inquiry. For example, rather than taking any sort of social sciences class, students would have to take a course on environmental literacy. In addition to this, the other proposed categories are: science/theory/empirical design, design/innovation/creativity, individual values/social institutions, cultural foundations and diversity/social justice.
Change is always hard to suggest, and this sounds like a lot of requirements. However, the practicality of current gen ed routes are said to remain under the new standards. The only thing added is flexibility. In this way, it is hard to see a real problem. Yes, some will decry these categories for coming off as indoctrinating, but depending on the breadth of options in each, this can be avoided.
People, especially STEM students, will surely look at a title like “cultural foundations” as ambiguous and fluffy. Already, there is disdain from those feeling like learning arts and humanities is a waste of time. This is all the more reason a change like this is necessary, though. General education requirements are meant to expose students to new ideas and perspectives, and the students who will surely discover something within themselves as a result of these changes will already make this worth it. In addition, even for those STEM-focused detractors, learning intersectionality is legitimately helpful in academia and industry. Most important tasks now require groups working together for a meshing of ideas, and changes like this help reflect the complications of our modern world.
Regardless of stance, though, it is important for students to make their voices heard. A survey is out now about this proposal and can be found at https://uconn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6WK44uq1KH5l3il.