The College of Mount St. Joseph will be implementing a new core curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year. This change comes after over a year of meeting and planning to decide what will ensure that Mount students get the most out of their liberal arts education. I sat down with Dr. Michael Sontag, a professor at the College and a leader for outlining this new core curriculum, to see what this change will mean for the students and faculty of the College.
So what exactly does a core curriculum entail? At the Mount, students are required to complete 52 core credit hours in addition to any majors or minors that they might have. Core classes range from subjects such as math, science and history, and are offered at such a variety and rate that students have the freedom to choose what interests them the most. For example, students who need science credits can take classes ranging from environmental science to meteorology, while students who need a literature course can take anything from ancient literature to a 20th century graphic novel class. Other classes, like the freshmen “Foundations Seminar,” “Spoken Word” and “Written Word,” are specific classes that all students have to take.
Faculty and staff members spent over a year meeting and analyzing data to determine what students should achieve in their time at the College. This data helped determine weak spots in the system and areas in which students and faculty will work to improve upon. Representatives from different departments voiced their opinions and made a collaborative effort to outline these changes for the College.
Sontag, one of the leaders for this core change, believes that these changes will be good for the College, and will help students and faculty to achieve to their fullest potential with the mission of the College and the Sisters of Charity.
Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, students will take 46-49 core hours. Students will no longer have to take nine hours of core electives, and instead will take a social justice class. This falls under the theme of the new curriculum, titled “The Common Good”, which incorporates the vision of the Sisters of Charity.
“Learning about the Sisters of Charity legacy of service is something we want everyone to hear about” said Sontag.
Certain classes, such as ethics, the freshman “Foundations Seminar” and senior capstone will emphasize the notion of the common good, though all classes will incorporate the theme of the common good in some way.
There will also be a requirement for experiential learning, such as co-op, service learning, clinicals, student teaching, or IDS immersion courses.
“(We want to focus on) integration of learning in the classroom and the real world,” said Sontag.
There is also talk of a speaker series that will be connected to a number of courses on campus. These guest speakers will be integrated to the courses taught at the College so that students have the opportunity to take their learning outside of the classroom.
With the new core in place, the hope is that the students will transition into the new core as smoothly as possible. The changes don’t affect tuition, and some students may be able to even graduate early, saving them money in the long run. Professors have taken workshops to prepare them for the changes, and students will have the option to participate in workshops as well.