Working group plans to update the general education curriculum

Guskiewicz said he is excited about the working group and sees good things coming from it. It currently includes about 100 faculty members, students and staff who are working in task forces on different aspects of the curriculum planning.

“I think that we need to be looking at, as I have told people, a general education program that is going to prepare our students, you know, our graduates, for not only the jobs that exist today but the careers that exist today and for the careers that don’t even exist yet,” Guskiewicz said.

“We’re trying to be really creative and come up with a curriculum that is very contemporary and innovative and has sort of a global perspective to it.”

Guskiewicz appointed Andrew Perrin, a sociology professor and director of the Carolina Seminars program, to be chairperson of the working group. Perrin said the group has been meeting to work on plans and goals since last September.

“There are a number of issues that I think make it really important, but the cardinal, or the most important thing, is we really need to have a general education curriculum that recognizes the value of both liberal arts and real world experience for all of the different goals we have for our undergraduate alumni,” Perrin said.

Perrin said he wants students to know this is a long process — current students at the University will not be affected by the general education revision.

“I think one of the things we’ve learned, or I’ve learned, from lots of work trying to develop things with the University, is that doing it right is much more important than doing it fast,” Perrin said. “So we want to make sure that we’re doing a great job of it, and that we have the necessary resources and kind of organization in place to make sure it works out really well.”

Adam Versényi, chairperson of the dramatic art department and a member of the working group, said the curriculum has not been evaluated in 10 years. He said the world has changed a lot since then, and the curriculum should mirror this.

“The nature of the curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences is the core of what we do as an institution and thinking about what UNC graduates should look like is very much in the center of what we do as faculty members here,” Versényi said.

Kelly Hogan, the assistant dean of the Office of Instructional Innovation and director of the Quality Enhancement Plan, said they aim to align the new curriculum with where they see higher education going.

“In terms of navigating through the curriculum, we have heard from our students and our academic advisors that the current curriculum is a challenge,” Hogan said. “It’s overwhelming, and students spend a good deal of their time figuring out how to check boxes and not reflecting on what those courses really mean as a whole, and in their time with academic advisors, spending a lot of time figuring out those boxes instead of having real meaningful relationships about reflecting on the curriculum and careers.”

Hogan said the new curriculum will focus on the things students can do, such as collaboration and evidence interpretation, and how instructors will teach this.

“We know that certain aspects of these, the actual technical skills that go along with these things will change as technology changes and society changes,” Hogan said. “But the basic skills of collaborating, communicating, thinking about ethics, creativity, analyzing, interpreting evidence — all of those things we feel are some pretty core capacities.”

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