Westminster College has taken a whole different approach when it comes to liberal education, and it is activating it in Fall 2016.
Westminster will be changing its Liberal Education (LE) requirements after its last accreditation process to a new curriculum called WCore. The process included a student survey that asked how students felt about the current LE courses, which most students said they felt the courses were incoherent and a block to timely graduation.
“I feel like, with nursing, it’s impossible to finish the LE program,” said Hanah Carter, sophomore nursing major.
The board saw these complications with the current program and wanted to find a solution, according to Barbara Smith, chair of the WCore committee and psychology professor.
“Many students saw LEs as something they just wanted to check off and get out of the way and move on to their exciting major,” Smith said. “Our majors are exciting, but we thought our LE program should be as exciting as that.”
Along with making liberal education more intriguing, the WCore also aims to help students connect with full-time faculty, shorten the LE program by about half of what it is now and have the students enjoy the courses they are taking during their first two years.
“We were looking for ways for more incoming students to be taught by full-time faculty, and we were also looking for ways to move away from those intro or survey courses,” said Amy Kelly, who also plays a role in the communication processes of WCore.
The goal of the new curriculum is to help students graduate in four years and have them take courses that faculty members are more interested in teaching.
“The most exciting thing for me would be the classes,” Kelly said. “Students will get the chance to take really unique courses with full-time faculty.”
Suggestions for possible courses are Vampires: The Reading and Seduction, Geology of the U.S. National Parks System, Mathematics of Counting Votes, Science and Chemistry of Nutrition, and Harry Potter and Ethics.
Although these changes may seem exciting, many students either don’t know about the change or are panicked, Kelly said.
“I received the email about WCore, but I actually don’t know anything about it,” said Carter, nursing major.
However, many of the faculty assure current students that they don’t have much to worry about as far as credits transferring to the new WCore system.
“The goal is that the advisers, START Center and registrar are going to be quite generous in assigning credit for WCore courses,” said Kelly, director of collections and instruction outreach.
Students are also able to check with their advisers about which courses will count with the committee’s new degree audit report system.
Unfortunately, there are some changes that will affect those students who transferred with AP and IB credits. They no longer will receive credit in the WCore curriculum. However, they will receive credit if it counts toward major courses or an elective for their majors.
Although there are many changes, some faculty and students are excited about the new curriculum. Faculty members can now teach courses they normally would not get to and students will get to take classes they are also more interested in.
Each semester, the classes will change because the faculty has many ideas for courses, Kelly said. “However, if something turns out to be wildly popular, it will stay.”
One student was asked how he felt about the new change.
“Disappointed,” said Rodney Glore, senior support liaison. “Disappointed because I’ve seen some of the courses, and I want to take them.”
The new curriculum will start Fall 2016, and students are encouraged to see their advisers to make sure classes transfer properly.