Letter to the Editor: Core Committee working on plan to provide students with great choices for gen ed requirements

By Steven H. Corey

As chair of the Columbia Core Curriculum Committee, I am excited to note that the recently published editorial, “Columbia needs to be honest about its financial crisis” anticipates some of the important work of the Core Committee this year.

Under the direction of the strategic plan, Building Our Brighter Future, we have been working to provide greater choices for students in their general education course requirements. These potential changes also advance the important goal of reducing operational costs.

The Columbia Core, or simply the Core, plays a critical role in making Columbia a college for creatives. The Core is designed to merge the required foundational general education requirements with innovative courses that enhance students’ capacity for critical thinking and lifelong learning skills.

Beginning last fall, the Core Committee has discussed ways to broaden the academic range of the Core by including a select number of existing courses offered across the college, allowing students to explore more content from other disciplines. Popular business skills courses or foundation classes required for majors are possible candidates for inclusion.

The Core Committee also recognizes the obstacles and frustrations students face in registering for our unique CCCX classes, given that the currently required threecourse sequence can complicate scheduling. Even though these classes are often well-received when measured by student comments in course evaluations, we will be working with Academic Advising and the Registrar’s Office to reduce the CCCX requirement to just one three-credit course beginning next year. While the complete sequence of CCCX classes will no longer be required, they will continue to be offered so that students can take them, or any other ELAS course, to complete the overall number of required Core credits.

Another important Core modification under consideration is a proposal from English and Creative Writing to replace the current twocourse Writing and Rhetoric sequence with a new and innovative single class that stresses more contemporary twenty-first century modes of communication. Students can then continue to develop their communication skills with an array of recommended writing courses in English and Creative Writing or in other departments offered as Core electives.

While these Core modifications are still in the planning, approval and implementation stage, when combined, they will allow departments to offer major/minor courses with more robust enrollments, thus reducing the overall cost of instruction and the institution’s larger structural deficit.

Steven H. Corey is dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of history in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences.

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