College faculty approve first revision
Emory College faculty have approved a revision of the general education
requirements for the first time in nearly 20 years, but now the real work
begins: the development and implementation of changes that will increase
Emory students' awareness of global culture and history, further develop
their analytical and writing skills, and offer them more individualized
of education requirements in 20 years
Emory College Dean David Bright said that the direction in which Emory is
heading is "not unlike what other colleges are doing in the area of
liberal education, including an increased awareness of an international
context and understanding of foreign languages, placing an increased emphasis
on writing courses, and providing greater access to regular faculty during
the freshman year."
"What we'll be working on next is placing this within a framework that
is distinctly Emory," he added.
Bright, who has shepherded the process for the past four years, has appointed
George Jones, Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology and former dean of
the Graduate School, to lead a small task force in creating what Bright
refers to as a "road map" for the faculty to follow in implementing
the revisions that they approved in meetings on Jan. 22 and 29.
Bright said that the revision of the College's general education requirements
led to much debate and discussion regarding the definition of an educated
"Education is not content free-there are kinds of information and awareness
that students need to have-but they also need to develop the skills that
will enable them to learn, not only while in college, but for the rest of
their lives. College is just the beginning of the educational process, not
the end of it," said Bright.
As an example of the revised curriculum's focus, students learn how to apply
analytical skills to the interpretation of a text. "They learn what
it means to sit down with a text, to analyze it, and to articulate what
they have found," said Bright. "In this situation, the content
can vary widely. Students need to acquire a habit of learning, and the tools
with which to learn effectively and to use that knowledge. The perceptive
reading of texts is one part of that habit."
The curriculum revision process formally began with the 1994 Task Force
on Curriculum, chaired by German Studies Associate Professor Garland Richmond,
which recommended that the revision of general education requirements be
designed to integrate the acquisition of analytical skills with building
a knowledge base. After years of meetings and task forces, committees and
subcommittees, the faculty approved revised general education requirements
for three kinds of courses:
Not everyone, of course, agrees with the direction of the revised requirements.
Mathematics and Computer Science Department Chair Dwight Duffus believes
that an extensive set of uniform requirements can be a "roadblock,"
particularly for science students who plan to attend graduate school. "I
don't think you enhance undergraduate education by having a universally
applied set of general education requirements," said Duffus, who also
thinks that programs such as the advising system need to be "fixed
in conjunction with revision of the curriculum." Duffus also said he
is pleased that George Jones will lead the effort to develop and implement
the new curriculum format.
- Skills and methodologies: writing, quantitative methods, a second language
and physical education; exposure to characteristic methodologies of the
three broad divisions (humanities, social sciences and natural sciences),
including new requirements in interpretation of texts and study of the arts;
- The study of national, regional and global culture and history;
- New emphasis on small classes, not only at the upper levels, but also
in the first year. The seminar requirement ensures that every first-year
student takes a course comprising only fellow freshmen, limited in size
and taught by a regular faculty member.
French and Italian professor Carol Herron, who is vice chair of the faculty
and chair of the executive committee, said she is pleased that "Emory
is moving forward with increased focus on international studies, foreign
languages and the arts in the curriculum, while also emphasizing smaller
classes. We've built a solid foundation of uniform requirements upon which
we are updating and broadening the range of what we offer," she said.