The Core Unmasked

Submitted by Enerida Ademi '13 on November 10, 2009

news_cas_coreunmasked_09On Tuesday, October 27, 2009, the Colleges of Arts and Sciences revealed new ways of thinking about the required core curriculum through an interactive event in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room, from 11:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. Each department displayed their own booth where students learned more about the University’s graduation requirements and the ways they form an integrated whole grounded in the liberal arts and Jesuit educational tradition. The event, which is on its third annual, was organized by Dr. Kathy Nantz, Director of the Core Integration Project and an Associate Professor of Economics, along with members of the staff of the Center for Academic Excellence.

Students who entered the Oak Room were handed a free t-shirt that displayed the logo of a colorful mask and a title. Each booth had its own games, raffles, and many give a-ways. The room was never empty as students were rushing in to better understand the core. There were food, drinks, raffles, and more.

“The basis of a Jesuit education is the liberal arts curriculum which enhances the study of any major, including the majors in the Schools of Business, Engineering, and Nursing,” said Dean of Freshman Dr. Debnam Chappell. “The core enhances those majors because it gives students writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, so that they can deal with any issues that come up in their chosen fields.”

Dr. Chappell was near the entrance behind the booth for the Freshman Experience as she made herself available to answer student questions. A faculty representative at each booth helped students understand how the core integrates with their majors and minors. As Arts & Sciences Dean, Dr. Robbin Crabtree, describes it, “The core is about breadth of study, which is important for any well-educated person. It’s also about developing the habits of mind and heart that form students as life-long learners who care about the world around them.”

Dr. Brian G. Walker was behind the biology table, where he presented different core requirements for science. He explained that students can take a variety of sciences, even without a separate lab class. Walker stated, “When you are exposed to diverse topics outside your major, you learn in ways you wouldn’t have imagined.”

The core exposes students to classes they would not likely take on their own. A student who likes math might not think of taking a philosophy or religion course. An English major might not want to take mathematics courses. However, through the core, students graduate as well-rounded individuals, and may just find an unlikely academic or career path that’s a perfect fit.

“If I had not taken a biology course on the environment, I probably wouldn’t have become an Environmental Studies minor,” said Laura Gilmartin ’12. “Sometimes the core opens up a door. I never considered myself a science person, but the material was interesting, and now I have a minor that I love!”

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