Faculty Senate pondering eased general education

CSUN students may see a change in general education requirements, according to a report released at the Faculty Senate meeting this month.

The proposed general education plan will reduce the overall number of general education units students must complete from 58 to 60 in the original plan, to 47 in the reformed plan, according to the report.

The new plan will reduce the number of units students must complete to fulfill the requirements for humanities, social sciences, and comparative culture studies by three units, from nine units to six.

Similarly, requirements for natural sciences will decrease by one unit, from nine units to eight.

“We need changes to the general education requirements,” said Vicki Pedone, a CSUN geological sciences professor and a member of the General Education Task Force committee, which was created to review the general education program at CSUN.

“CSUN has one of the largest general education packages in the entire CSU system,” Pedone said. “By reducing the number of general education units, it might encourage students to take a minor, or pursue individual interests.”

According to the report, the new general education plan would continue to ensure that students be exposed to a rich diversity of classes, but it will also encourage students to explore areas of interest to them, something that was not always available to students who had to meet general unit requirements.

“(The new general education program) would give students more flexibility to pursue personal and career interests,” Pedone said.

Under the proposed general education plan, freshmen would have the option of participating in a freshman cohort, which would allow freshmen to have a number of the same fellow students in two or more of their courses per semester. According to the report, a freshman year cohort would encourage students to feel as though they’re part of a learning community, and may encourage effective study strategies, including study groups.

Michael Meyer, CSUN history professor and a GETF committee member, said he doesn’t necessarily see an advantage in reducing the number of general education units.

“Students are not usually that well prepared, and faculty should assure that students get a rich educational program,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the proposed general education requirement change would reduce the number of liberal arts courses students would take. He said it is important grounding for well-rounded students.

Meyer said the new general education requirements would also make the history of Western civilization class optional, whereas now, it is a required course within the comparative cultural studies section.

“It’s a core value of our school that we have a nine unit comparative cultural studies requirement,” Meyer said of the new plan that would reduce the section to only six units.

According to the report, if the Faculty Senate adopts the new proposal this semester, plans for implementation of the new general education requirements will start going into effect during the 2005-06 academic year.

Transfer students and students who began with the old general education requirements will not be affected if the new general education plan is put into effect, according to Pedone.