Monday, February 9, 2015

A radical general education curriculum

Here is an idea for the general education portion of an undergraduate curriculum. There are three requirements. Each student must:
  • Design and conduct an experiment
  • Design and defend a public policy
  • Write a novel
There are detailed criteria for passing each requirement. Students have considerable flexibility regarding their approach to and the subject matter of each project, but all students are held to rigorous standards for the depth of each project and the thoroughness with which each is completed. Students receive a lengthy evaluation of each project including both quantitative and qualitative feedback. These evaluations are written by a committee of faculty members.

Students are given resources to enable them to complete these projects, including extensive advising and various courses. Many of these courses resemble typical general education courses, while others are more modular. Students are required only to complete the three major projects satisfactorily, and they may choose the courses that they feel will enable them to do that. Courses may include whatever activities that the instructor deems to be appropriate. Any evaluation of a student's coursework is for the student's information only and does not appear on a transcript. Under-subscribed courses are eliminated from the catalog and new courses may be introduced periodically based on faculty interest and availability and student demand.

Incoming students' orientation includes a discussion of what students can expect to gain from their completion of the three projects. They are urged to heed advice in order to stay on track to finish the requirements in a timely fashion but are given autonomy in selecting the instructional activities in which they will participate.

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