USC’s changes to the general education requirements will take effect starting with this year’s incoming freshman class.
These changes will not affect students enrolled in the University before the Fall 2015 semester, or incoming transfer students.
Originally, a request to review and revise the general education requirements came from the office of former Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett. Over the course of three years, a number of faculty committees convened to outline a rough proposal for the new model that was then passed, allowing for the process of implementation to begin.
Dr. Richard Fliegel, associate dean for Undergraduate Programs, said, that though the past general education model was good, curriculums are never fully static and updates and revisions are made from time to time.
“It was not a result of dissatisfaction with the previous program,” Fliegel said. “That program was not only considered very successful at USC, but it was lauded by other institutions as well, as a model.”
While slight changes have been made to the categories from the 1996-2014 model, including the addition of quantitative reasoning, the actual course material will remain similar.
The new classes in the “Core Literacies” category will be: “The Arts,” “Humanistic Inquiry,” “Social Analysis,” “Life Sciences,” “Physical Sciences” and “Quantitative Reasoning.”
New students will now be required to take two additional general education classes: “Citizenship in the Global Era” and “Traditions and Historical Foundations.”
The diversity requirement used in the old core curriculum will now be a “Global Perspectives” category. The category’s classes will deal with the same issues and inquiries as the diversity requirement but through a wider scope.
“Traditions and Historical Foundations” will provide foundational context by examining societal development. Working in tandem, “Citizenship in the Global Era” will explore contemporary social, political, economic and cultural issues outside of the United States in an effort to cultivate a coherent understanding of globalization. Both courses do not require taking additional classes. Rather than adding courses to students workloads, GE’s will have designated tags indicating that global perspectives requirements can be met by passing these courses.
Daniel Newman, a freshman majoring in real estate development, said the new update will make students even more well rounded.
“I think it’s really a great thing for all of us students, because it makes us much more well rounded, which I think is very important to being a Trojan,” Newman said. “In general, being a person in this world, you need to be able to speak to many different people about many different things, and I feel like these new GE requirements are one more step towards being the ultimate well-rounded person.”
An exciting attribute of the new model is that students will be able to fulfill some of their general education requirements by taking classes across the university’s professional schools, as well as Dornsife College. This change now provides students with an opportunity to start completing their majors earlier, by enrolling in classes that overlap with their general education requirements.
“The committees, both the design committee and the implementation groups, were very, very committed to the idea that it should not delay graduation, “ Fliegel said. “They also made a very concerted effort to make sure that a larger number of classes could be used to be both general education requirements and major and minor requirements. That was possible under the old program, too, but the number of courses that did that were many fewer than there are now for the new categories.”
Incoming freshmen are also expected to enroll in a “General Education Seminar” during their first year at the University.
The purpose of the seminar is to ensure that students will have at least two small classes, the other being Writing 150, during their first year.
The seminars most closely resemble the “Arts and Letters” requirement from the old model, but have less than two-thirds the maximum capacity of the former general education catagory’s classes.
Over 100 general seminars will be available, with topics ranging from arts and humanities to life sciences and quantitative reasoning. Some examples from the “Seminar in the Arts” are “Authenticity and Popular Music” and “The Dream in Poetry.”
With the seminars, students can earn credit for any one of the six “Core Literacy” requirements.
Newman added that he is anxious for the change, but he trusts USC’s decision.
“[The update is] kind of scary, but I have my trust in USC,” Newman said. “I know they’ve obviously done a lot of research and preparation to make sure that the change isn’t too drastic and that we’re all ready for this.”