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Dean unveils new general education curriculum, changes core requirements

Dean Lake Lambert recently unveiled a sweeping round of changes to Mercer’s general education curriculum for fall 2012, including replacing First Year Seminar and Senior Capstone classes with a new interdisciplinary program, lowering core requirements and adding a new writing focus to certain courses.

The new curriculum – called the Integrated Learning Program – will replace the courses previously known as FYS and SCP with a new set of classes called INT, which stands for Integrated Studies.
INT will cover topics of self-composition and community engagement similar to the ones in FYS and SCP, and will include an experiential component called INT-X.

The new curriculum also will reduce the amount of core credits needed for CLA students to graduate from 50 hours to 40 hours, Lambert said. Students will then be allowed to replace the extra 10 previously required hours with courses of their choice.

“The new general education requirements will fall in line with the core requirments at similar instutitions by making general education take up about one-third of the total credits needed to graduate,” Lambert said.

Lambert said one of the biggest benefits of the new curriculum is that it spreads interdsciplinary learning throughout the undergraduate experience rather than only in the freshman and senior years.

“Previously there’s been a bit of a gap with interdisciplinary studies. You take FYS in your freshman year and Senior Capstone in your senior year, but there’s not much in between,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the new curriculum has been in the works for a while now, but remains open to changes based upon faculty and student suggestions.

Student body president Trenton White said the new curriculum is not intended to lower Mercer’s standards but rather  to offer students a broader range of choice.

“The new coursework will just allow students to take more classes in their respective majors or elect to take other classes they find interesting,” White said.

The changes to the curriculum will also include a greater emphasis on teaching students analytical writing skills, Lambert said. Certain departmental-specific courses will be listed as writing-intensive classes and include a fourth hour for in-depth writing instruction.

“We hope that our renewed focus on writing instruction will help bring more focus to this area and will renew focus on how to teach faculty to teach students how to write,” Lambert said.
Another major difference in the new curriculum is that all students will be required to fulfill a community engagement requirement, which could include study abroad, internships or undergraduate research.

The new requirements will not affect current students, who will be grandfathered in under the new curriculum, Lambert said.

The Integrated Learning Program will have no signifcant effect on existing university programs such as Great Books, UNV, preceptorship or Peer Advising.

It will also nix the Scientific Inquiry requirement.

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