Perrin said the committee’s goals for the plan include academically diverse Foundations for first-year students, and collaboration and communication with alumni and faculty. The committee also wants to make the curriculum more navigable for students in general.
The first draft of the plan requires three courses from three separate categories: Humanities/Fine Arts, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences/Mathematics. These credits cannot be fulfilled through Advanced Placement or similar credits before a student’s first semester at the University.
The proposal requires students to take at least one course meeting four separate "focuses": U.S./Global Diversity, Ethical Reasoning, Mathematical/Quantitative Reasoning and Research Intensive. A new category of classes, MFIT, will join the LFIT requirement and focus on the mental wellness aspect of health. In addition, varsity athletes will now be exempt from required LFIT courses.
But these changes have not come uncontested.
Multiple faculty members from different departments launched and signed petitions arguing that these proposals do not accomplish the goals of a liberal arts university. A primary complaint of faculty is the pairing of the U.S. and Global Diversity categories into one requirement. Along with this, petitions listed the lack of literary arts and the disappearance of the Historical Analysis, World Before 1750, North Atlantic World and Beyond the North Atlantic World requirements as issues.
Some faculty say these issues indicate a low expectation of students to choose historically oriented courses and gain diverse perspectives on the world. Multiple petitions call for the addition of a fifth “focus” requirement, Global Perspectives, to promote engagement with different historical perspectives.
W. Fitzhugh Brundage, chair of the department of history, signed one of the petitions. He said many faculty members feel that, while the current system may be less flexible than the proposal, it has the virtue of directing students to a wide range of disciplinary options.
“It is a valuable intellectual exercise for us to try to comprehend human beings and human societies a thousand years before us, because it’s so foreign in so many different ways,” Brundage said. “If you just have a broad historical analysis requirement, one consequence of that could be that people just gravitate towards that which is most familiar and easy. Otherwise, modern American history.”
Jennifer Ho, professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, wrote one of the petitions. Her issue went beyond geographical perspectives, and expressed a concern that students will be less inclined to explore social topics like LGBTQ+ communities, islamophobia and racism outside the United States.
Jacob Blount, secretary of the undergraduate student government, said they are being vigilant about receiving student feedback on the proposal. One change the student government supports is the elimination of AP and similar credits as substitutes for general education classes.
“Students coming from rural high schools in North Carolina are not going to have the same educational resources as students coming from an IB or boarding school program,” Blount said. “So the 2019 curriculum is set to level the playing field of students coming in from those different high school experiences.”
For other students on campus, the issue of diversifying historical perspectives still lacks in this proposal. Mary Beth Browne, vice president of the Carolina International Relations Association, echoed Brundage’s message of the importance of understanding the workings of the world outside the U.S.
“It’s dangerous to look at the United States as a single actor,” Browne said. “I think you have to understand why the United States itself holds the views that it does, which sometimes can be contradictory, and be able to contextualize that in a broader global intellectual marketplace.”
With all these issues in play, the Coordinating Committee has a lot of feedback to answer and adjust to. Perrin acknowledged this, stating that this truly is a first draft in a long process.
“Not only is nothing set in stone; things aren’t even set in sand yet,” Perrin said.