This issue is about changing the general education curriculumin big ways through significant reforms and, more frequently, incremental waysto accomplish purposes better, connect with students better, and provide a more engaging and intellectually and emotionally compelling common collegiate experience. The chapter authors present the results of a recent national survey on changes in general education: four case studies of institutions that have undertaken changehow they did it, what the constraints were, and most important, what the results were: and discussions on achieving curricular coherence and the nature of change and how to bring it about.
This is the 125th issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Higher Education.
Table of Contents
EDITORS’ NOTES (James L. Ratcliff, D. Kent Johnson, Jerry G. Gaff).
1. A Decade of Change in General Education (D. Kent Johnson, James L. Ratcliff, Jerry G. Gaff)
Over the past decade, institutions gave general education priority, undertook curricular redesign and enhancement, and implemented many innovations. This chapter examines what was changed in general education, how and why, and what remains to be accomplished.
2. The Franklin Pierce Plan (Sarah T. Dangelantonio)
A small liberal arts college overcame apathy and resource limitations to craft a distinctive general education curriculum, incorporating interdisciplinary courses and seminars spanning all four years of the baccalaureate.
3. The Reforms in General Education at American University (Haig Mardirosian)
A cosmopolitan university serving a diverse and international student population forgoes its distributional general education program; seeks to create a curriculum that better reflects its values, goals, and objectives; and limits the expansion and overgrowth of general education courses.
4. Cascadia Community College: Finding the “Cascadia Way” (Victoria Muñoz Richart)
Rarely does an institution have the opportunity to design a general education program from scratch. Cascadia drew on best practices in teaching and learning to design a curriculum that met statewide transfer and articulation requirements and standards for accreditation, yet built a curriculum derived of its own mission and organized around the idea that faculty, students, and staff are all learners in a learning organization.
5. The Hamline Plan: Mentoring, Modeling, and Monitoring the Practical Liberal Arts (F. Garvin Davenport)
Originally redesigned in 1984–85, the Hamline Plan is undergoing a second wind of change as its initial transformation takes on new dimensions and new issues in fulfilling its vision of providing a practical liberal arts education.
6. Creating Coherence: The Unfinished Agenda (D. Kent Johnson, James L. Ratcliff)
Most colleges seek greater coherence in general education, but few achieve it. This chapter examines why this is so and how tensions in the curriculum can benefit rather than impede the change process.
7. Re-envisioning the Change Process in General Education (James L. Ratcliff)
How general education is changed is changing. Purpose, organization, and defragmentation were accomplishments of the past decade’s reforms, but they failed to address curriculum coherence and distinctiveness fully. A view of change in general education reform as relational communication may help achieve these goals of reform.