How do students learn differently in the 21st century? What is important to know in our rapidly changing world? And how will the College chart its course for the next 150 years? These are questions Provost Beth Dobkin and her faculty colleagues have been thinking about over the past two years. Two products emerged — a new Academic Blueprint and new core curriculum. Together, they aim to make the College the best it can be as a 21st century institution, while preserving its Lasallian traditions.
Released in the spring of 2011, the blueprint will be implemented over the next five years. It focuses on academic programs and activities that promote an integrated, collaborative and distinctive educational experience for both students and professors alike.
“The Blueprint brings together the strengths and aspirations of our community as it has been expressed over several years and it draws on the inspiration of people who are doing innovative and impactful work with students,” says Beth Dobkin, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The directions provide the framework for how we want to see the direction of intellectual engagement and activity move forward.”
Goals of the blueprint include:
- Increasing diversity in students, faculty and staff and developing a curriculum that targets diversity and inclusiveness.
- Increasing the number of international students on campus and student participation in study abroad, and offering more options.
- Developing infrastructure, including a major renovation and expansion of the library to be completed in 2015.
- Developing 4+1 degree programs, with the first likely to be M.S. in accounting and an M.A. in leadership with a concentration in social justice.
- Improving retention rates and the amount of time it takes students to get their degrees.
The New Core
Beginning with freshman entering in fall 2012, the College will launch a new core curriculum defined by 12 learning goals that will guide professors as they teach, students as they learn and have measurable outcomes.
Rather than being just a smorgasbord of class choices, the new core curriculum will enrich students in a broader sense. “We’re trying to define the purpose of education. We want students and faculty to think about why we take (or teach) a certain course. What should we be doing in that course? What type of experience should all students have about the subject of the course?” says Jim Sauerberg, professor of mathematics and computer science and chair of the Core Curriculum Implementation Committee.
And it’s important for them to understand how the classes they take are interconnected, as well as how what they learn is connected to the world at large. “It’s not just about a degree as a piece of paper. It’s about developing students as intellectual adults,” he says.