Why first-year LERs are worth attending

Kristyn Soltis

Liberal Education Requirements, or LERs, are meant to prepare students to live in today’s complex, global society. According to the office of the university registrar’s Web site, LERs “broaden intellectual perspectives, foster ethical and humanitarian values, and prepare students for responsible citizenship and productive careers. Through this learning experience, students develop the intellectual flexibility they need to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

Flash Facts

In April 1913, Kent Normal School offered a one-year program for college graduates to earn a bachelor’s of education. Each class earned students about one credit, and twelve credits were required for graduation.

A course schedule was pre-determined for the students; however, when they reached their third quarter, students were able to choose one of about three possible electives.

All students are expected to complete LERs during their college career. Some students may find LERs a waste of time while others may find an LER course surprisingly enlightening and possibly consider a change in major.

“As a matter of fact, I know of two current physics majors I had in class their freshman year,” said John Barrick, instructor for Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe. “They enjoyed it so much that they made it their major.”

Barrick said he is also aware of similar situations for Tom Emmons and Jonathan Secaur, other instructors for Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe, or PHYS 11030, which is an introductory science course designed to meet the general science requirement for most students. It serves as a foundation course for other scientific courses because it studies the rules that govern the physical universe.

Mike Beaumont, senior communications major, is planning to take Seven Ideas for the Fall 2009.

“I’m in my last year, so I just took it because I heard Barrick is so easy,” Beaumont said.

Barrick said Seven Ideas is such a popular LER course because of the combination of his joy for teaching and his attempt to make the class interesting.

“Seven Ideas attempts to explain complex topics in a manner so that individuals with a non-technical background can understand,” Barrick said. “As important is the effort to make it interesting and show how it applies to everyday life. I also flat-out enjoy teaching it, and I think that really helps.”

Cory Kocher, senior business major, said his favorite LER course during his college career was Understanding Music, MUS 22111, which offers a listening approach to the understanding of Western art music, folk and jazz.

“I took Understanding Music, which was the easiest class ever,” Kocher said. “I like it because I could sleep and still get a high A. It was just really easy, I thought.”

However, not all LER classes are a walk in the park for everyone who takes them, as graduate student Justin Schmidt discovered after taking Understanding Architecture.

The class, ARCH 10001, studies the nature of the built environment and explores the forms and functions within cultural contexts such as technology, human behavior, symbolism, art and history.

“An LER class that I hated and suggest no one ever take is architecture,” Schmidt said. “I thought it would be easier than a history class, but I absolutely hated that class.”

Barrick said with the advantage of hindsight, he wishes he had the chance to take some LER classes again.

“As a freshman, I started right out in physics and astronomy, but still also had to take LERs. As would be expected, I did have some that were more favorite than others,” Barrick said. “I now realize the great potential they offer to introduce a vast universe of ideas that can stimulate imagination.”

Contact principal reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].