Is recently proposed graduation requirement necessary?

Anna Staver

Kent State Faculty Senate is still divided on whether the new experiential learning graduation requirements are necessary to benefit students.

“We’re concerned that it will be just one more thing a student has to go through in order to graduate,” said philosophy professor Linda Williams. “We’re not saying that it’s not worthwhile, but we wonder whether there has to be these requirements.”

The proposal, which is now before Faculty Senate, states that all students would complete a yet to be determined number of experiential learning hours before graduation. They could include a semester abroad, an internship, a research project or volunteer work.

A student could also satisfy the LER requirement through a job. For example, a dance major could help in the choreography of an on- or off-campus show.

The requirement could also be fulfilled through a class. One example would be to take Comparative World Religions and go to several different religious services throughout the semester.

The proposal allows for the creation of new LER courses in which students would spend a substantial amount of time outside of the classroom as part of the course.

“The hope is that these experiences can be folded into the curriculum so that you don’t have to add a new class,” said Ralph Lorenz, associate dean of the College of the Arts. “Or if you do add a new class, it’s going to take the place of a class that’s already in the curriculum.”

Lorenz said part of the purpose of the new requirement would be to get students out of the classroom and expose them to the world. He said these experiences also help students after they graduate because internships can often play key roles in job offers.

The counterargument made at Faculty Senate by chemical physics professor Jonathan Selinger is that “this is very much drafted in thinking about traditional college students.”

Selinger said a veteran who returned from Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, would already have real world experiences.

Another concern is that the proposal is written in a way that would allow students to fulfill the requirement without getting most of the intended benefits, Williams said.

“They have included some things that are not usually thought of when you think of experiential learning and that is research papers and research labs,” Williams said. “And that is not particularly outside of academia.”

Additional concerns were raised about whether what qualifies as an LER credit would be decided by the colleges or by the university, and about who would have the final say on whether something qualifies as experimental learning.

Lorenz said he believes it is time for a vote on the issue, and that he hopes the proposal will pass. With less than two weeks until the vote, the Faculty Senate meets again on Oct.11, some Faculty Senate professors are still undecided.

Contact Anna Staver at [email protected].