The Current Core Curriculum Conversation

Changes to the core curriculum are taking shape in response to new QEP recommendations and shifting student preferences.

Changes to the core curriculum are taking shape in response to new QEP recommendations and shifting student preferences.

In the heady season of registration, with students waking early to snatch coveted spots in classes for their majors, common questions bandied about include core class questions: When should I take PE? Should I start CHOW freshman or sophomore year? How can I satisfy my core requirements by graduation—and what, exactly, is it that comprises the core at Covenant?

Recently, for the first time since 2013, the Core Oversight Committee presented a set of potential recommendations to the Curriculum Committee for potential changes in the core requirements.  

The Curriculum Committee—composed of a student representative, Caroline Bair, and faculty members including Professors Hunt, McCallister, Pennington, Stern, Holberg, Morton, Stambaugh, and Stephans—approves changes in curriculum prior to adjustments in the course catalog. Recently, the changes being looked at have involved core requirements.

Four years ago, the Core Oversight Committee collaborated with the Student Senate on core curriculum change proposals, which included recommendations on assimilating Christ and Culture into Christian Mind, reworking the Intercultural Experience requirement and Global Trends/20th Century classes, condensing CHOW into one semester, and adding CORE courses less focused on the “Western” world. The adjusted proposed core curriculum shifts share some common features with those in 2013, including similar changes emphasizing and seeking to accommodate academic diversity in the student body, while still broadening students’ cultural horizons.

The Core Oversight Committee’s proposals, written by the faculty members of the committee, focused primarily on restructuring Christ and Culture, changing the math requirement to a Quantitative Literacy course, and the potential of adding a “diversity distribution” requirement to the Core.

The Curriculum Committee is still considering what the quantitative literacy course would entail, explaining in one of their meetings that “they’d like to pin down the framework prior to passing it, but [have] nothing concrete yet.” Currently, Dr. Donaldson is teaching a pilot course which may be converted into this class, but it’s too early to tell how the course is going. The Foreign Language Department has recommended increasing the foreign language requirement to twelve credits, so that students have at least an “intermediate proficiency” in another language, though they noted that the foreign language credit requirement may also be “staggered” according to students’ majors and incoming proficiency. This recommendation is multi-layered as the elementary language courses will experience reduced credit hours and a combination 101 and 102 class will be offered for students coming in with prior language experience.

The three-credit “diversity distribution” proposed by the committee would also prove a major addition, and achieve the goal of broadening students’ knowledge of what might be termed “non-Western” cultures. The Core Oversight Committee’s proposal of this requirement stated, in part, that “all students would be required to take at least one course that considers genders, ethnicities, races, religions, social class, or cultures other than Anglo-American and white majority European as its primary subject matter.”

Though the proposed changes have not been solidified by the faculty or the board—which, Caroline Bair explained, must occur before any core changes could be implemented—the Committee plans to meet again next Tuesday to continue discussing them. The Student Senate, however, would like to see more collusion between the Core Oversight Committee and the Student Senate.

The Student Senate drafted a letter to the Curriculum Committee last week, to communicate their intention for greater future involvement in core changes. “As the Covenant College Student Senate, we are committed to ensuring that students have an active voice in campus issues, problems, and student rights,” the letter began, continuing to assert that, “We believe that the discussion of changes to the core requirements is an issue that directly affects future students.”

Eventually, the Curriculum Committee will send a proposal to the faculty, where, like with the Curriculum Committee, the process will likely start all over before sending their recommendation on to the board. Theoretically, the Committee would hope to apply any implemented changes to the incoming freshman class, hopefully with further aid from the Student Senate.