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What’s at the core of it? Updates and plans for the core curriculum

By Tanner Adomaitis, Staff Writer

Originally Published February 27, 2024

Almost three years ago, the graduating class of 2025 became the first class to be on a new core curriculum at Saint Vincent College (SVC). Over the years since its implementation, it has been evolving and settling. Dr. Jerome Foss, professor of political science and Director of the Core, offered insights into what is to come from the newest evolutions of the curriculum.

“One thing that we have to do is assess the core, so we are getting all our ducks in a row for assessment,” Foss said. “We have been assessing it but we’re making some really good strides in terms of approving our assessment of the core. Hopefully students will be seeing the results of the assessments every semester and every year.”

Foss works to smooth out the wrinkles of the process and is very appreciative for the students being patient as the core goes through updates and changes.

“I hope this year there will be less reason to worry about finding classes, and next year, even fewer reasons,” Foss said.“A lot of that is actually improving how we measure the core’s success so we can think about what is working and what’s not working.”

Foss also noted that a major change concerning students is that many classes will now be able to be double counted for their major and for the core. If students in the past took a course that didn’t count for both requirements, they can contact Foss to look at making it double count.

He explained that the goal of the core curriculum is to provide a rigorous, liberal arts education to all students, and to make that true across all majors. The core should maintain a good foundation pertinent to each student’s major.

“For example, in a few new majors like Nursing, we want to make sure that the core provides nursing students with a good liberal arts education,” Foss said.

He noted that a big challenge in updating the core and including more classes was common good intentions, but incentives that point in different directions. He noted that one of his major tasks since becoming the Director of the Core was to change the incentives so that people can achieve their goals in cooperation with each other.

“It’s good to be at a school where we can support one another’s efforts and not have to feel like we are in competition with one another,” Foss said.

Diagram of the core curriculum. (SOURCE: SVC Portal)

The next freshman class will be required to take classes in certain disciplines, which moves the core back into the direction of the old core. However, the Learning Outcomes will be the same as the current core. Students can also look forward to more classes from departments who previously did not offer classes in the core, such as math and natural science classes. There will also be new history courses and literature courses introduced to the core.

“In a way, we are finding a middle road between the new current core and the old core,” Foss said. “The advantage of the new core is that it has a clearer direction and clearer understanding of what a liberal education at Saint Vincent College should be. There is less room for equivocation in the new core. We are, as a faculty and as a college, are more on the same page under the new core.”

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