Ball State core curricum to undergo changes

For more than 16 years, Ball State University's core curriculum has remained unchanged.

Yet, taking into consideration the recent changes in technology, the global environment and politics, Provost Beverly Pitts has developed a core curriculum task force that could make that change.

"We look at our contemporary environment, step back and say 'Does this arrive at what we hoped?'" Pitts said.

The task force will be responsible for evaluating the core curriculum and making sure the university is effectively educating its students.

Made up of two faculty members from each of Ball State's nine colleges, administration members and the Student Government Association, Pitts said she hopes the people on the task force will be interested in looking at the bigger picture of education.

"We're hoping to get people on the committee who are willing to step back from the structure of courses and from credit hours and think about what it means to be a university educator," Pitts said.

The responsibility of the task force is to develop a "mission" for the core curriculum. Members are encouraged to consult sources within and outside Ball State's community for guidance.

Next year, a second committee will look at the recommendations of this year's core curriculum committee and decide if and how to implement the recommended changes.

Pitts said she is not sure who will be on that committee, but it will likely consist of members of University Senate whomever the core curriculum committee members recommend.

"We are not doing course tinkering," Pitts said. "I want them to think big."

Pitts explained it is unusual for a university the size of Ball State to have a core curriculum.

Indiana University and Purdue University -- the two state schools with the largest enrollment in Indiana -- do not have core curriculum requirements, she said.

Ted Miller, associate dean of faculties at IU-Bloomington, said there have been two unsuccessful attempts in the last five years to try to create a core curriculum at IU.

Miller said each college within the university currently determines its own core requirements. For example, students seeking a bachelor of science degree in chemistry are required to take three hours of foreign language. However, nursing undergraduates do not have a foreign language requirement.

"Many faculty (members) appear to feel that having a diverse curriculum across the degree programs is a strength of Indiana University, not a weakness," Miller says. "Such a system better prepares students for their work life because it is more tailored to needs as perceived by the faculty, who are presumptively experts in such matters."

Not all university administrators agree with Miller's philosophy.

Pitts said that having a core curriculum allows the school to maximize its resources.

Both Indiana State University and IUPUI have core requirements for their undergraduates.

According to a statement on IUPUI's core curriculum committee's Web site, one advantage of offering core courses is that the university is able to offer "new courses that require substantial resources that would otherwise be beyond the reach of a single school."

The Web site explains that another advantage is that students may carry a double major without putting in double time or double tuition.

Pitts said the task force may find the current curriculum sufficient and may not need to make any changes.

"(Yet) every so often," Pitts said, "the core curriculum at the university needs to be reevaluated."

The BSU course calendar runs on a two-year schedule. Any changes that are made to the curriculum will not likely be implemented before the fall of 2004.

Any changes made at that time would affect only freshman and transfer students, not currently enrolled students.


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