Core Curriculum Revamp

By Ray Duffy


This past May, the college formed the Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) – a team of professors and administrators with the aim of assessing the current core curriculum in order to propose revised core curriculum structures.


This is to be reviewed by the faculty, with a later version to be approved by the Board of Directors. This final proposition is planned for June 2021, with the whole process taking around two years to complete.


Regarding why the core is being revised now, Dr. Margaret Watkins, CCC chairperson and dean of the AHSS School, explained that the main reason is that the core is decades old.


“[It] was designed for a different generation and not […] with the current constraints and challenges that all colleges in Pennsylvania in particular are facing right now,” she said.


Watkins further discussed how the changing priorities and goals of college students were a factor.


“I read [that] it was only in 2008, when the recession hit, when students started listing ‘employment’ as their primary reason for attending a four-year college. Before that it was things like ‘cultivation of interest’ and ‘the desire to be a more educated person,’” she said.


Watkins said they definitely have to deal with this change.

“We cannot just assume that our students come to us with the view that general education is a good [thing] or essential for their college experience,” she said. “So, we have to be able to articulate that [view].”


Watkins said the age of the current core cirriculum and the difficulty some students have completing it are factors contributing to the upcoming revision.

Another reason for the revision, Watkins said, has to do with the fact that the core requirements are rather big: over 60 credits.


“[It’s] a way of saying […] students come out of here with a broad education, [one that] they’re not going to get anywhere else, but it does create a problem for majors who, for external reasons, have to be very large [in terms of credit-hours],” she explained.


Education requirements are dictated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and must satisfy certain requirements. Watkins said that the current core makes it very hard for students who take majors that require a lot of credits.


“It also makes it very hard to double major or [have two minors] for some people and it makes it hard for us to accept transfer students,” she said.


According to a CCC document, the CCC is currently in the research phase, which began this past summer. Also in this phase, throughout this fall, the CCC is conducting listening session with faculty and students, meetings with each department and various interdisciplinary programs, and a faculty survey.


After this fall, the remaining phases are student learning outcomes (December – March 2020), core structure (March – October 2020), and full core development (October 2020 – June 2021).


The members of the CCC are: Watkins; Julia Cavallo, director of assessment and institutional research; Jessica Harvey, associate professor and chairperson of communication; Philip Kanfush, professor of education, EPC chairperson; James Kellam, associate professor of biology, faculty council president; Jason King, professor of theology; Jerome Foss, associate professor of politics; Michael Rhodes, associate professor of biology; and Nancy Rottler, assistant vice president for Student Success and Retention.


If readers would like to learn more about the CCC, information is located on the Academics tab of the MySV Portal. Contact information is also listed on the page for students and alumni with input regarding the liberal arts core and the revision process.


We want to hear from you! Email us your thoughts about the current core and how you think it should be revised at: review.stvincent@gmail.com


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