Kent Core classes getting makeover

Zachary Culler

Those in charge of streamlining the new Kent Core requirements have revealed a possible solution to soften the feared effects it may have on funding educational departments.

Senior Associate Provost Timothy Chandler, who is heading this project, said he hopes to redesign the core classes within the next three years by placing a higher focus on interdisciplinary classes — courses taught jointly by professors from multiple departments. The shift to Kent Core, approved by Faculty Senate, will significantly reduce the number of classes in the current Liberal Education Requirement system.

Since departments receive a portion of the tuition of each student enrolled in their courses, removing core classes could potentially cut funding to certain departments.

Chandler said offering courses with multiple professors would promote cooperation among departments and prevent competition for funding. This proposal would mean the professors’ departments would each get a share of the revenue generated by student tuition.

For example, the university could offer a course about sustainability taught by professors from the architecture and geology departments, Chandler said. Both departments would receive funding.

Chandler said interdisciplinary courses would also have an educational value.

“You’d get professors from different departments teaching together,” he said. “And you’d talk about how all of these areas are connected, instead of focusing on how they might be separated. Our world is extraordinarily complex, and we need to have an understanding of its problems from a variety of perspectives.”

Even though this idea might settle the issue of departmental funding, Chandler said interdisciplinary courses could complicate the lives of transfer students, since multi-genre courses might not satisfy the narrow transfer requirements of most traditional universities.

“If we fail to fit our classes within the transfer model, students coming into the university would have to take a vast number of courses all over again, and students transferring out would have to do the same,” he said.

Chandler said he would be working with the University Requirements Curriculum Committee to discuss this idea in the coming months.

Don Williams, co-chair of the URCC, said the committee will be re-evaluating and redefining all of the core classes, regardless of whether the shift toward interdisciplinary courses occurs.

“We will be looking at each course in the core and evaluating how well it satisfies desired learning objectives,” said Williams, dean of the Honors College.

“Once we have a better idea of what next year’s budget will look like, we’ll have a better idea of how quickly we can make this shift, if at all,” Chandler said. “But there seems to be, at least amongst the deans, some real understanding that this would be a good system to move toward.”

Contact Zachary Culler at [email protected].