Massive General Education revision moves forward

Winston Heckt, Staff Writer

After 18 listening sessions over the course of two months, the General Education Design Team (GEDT) is ready to begin revisions of the general education curriculum at Augsburg. The proposed changes range from adjustments to course requirements to a complete reimagining of AugSem. Everything in the current version of the proposal is still subject to change as the GEDT listens to feedback from the faculty, regents, alumni and currently enrolled students.

For context, Augsburg’s current curriculum was adopted in 2002, prompting the GEDT to examine the evolution of the university over that time period. “So much has changed since the last curriculum was written,” said Jacqui deVries, the Director of General Education and member of the GEDT. “It is important for Augsburg to change with the times and continue to offer our students a relevant learning experience in-keeping with the institution’s roots in the faith and values of the Lutheran Church.”

Reaction to the proposal has been mixed. “Change is hard, but my colleagues are cautiously interested in the proposal; they are mostly worried about the cost and the implications,” said deVries. “The Provost office is conducting an in-depth budgetary analysis, and the GEDT is using an early version of that analysis to start the revision process.”

Currently, students at Augsburg are required to take around 58 general education credits across six categories; the GEDT’s proposal brings the total number of credits down to around 50 but reconfigures them into eight new categories. Students would also take a course about sustainability and create a “Vocational Portfolio.” Each major would build key skills such as writing and information literacy while developing options for experiential learning tied to a student’s major.

Should the proposal pass by May as planned, Augsburg students would finish their time at the university with their current curriculum, but there is flexibility for students to adopt some elements of the new curriculum once it is adopted.

Perhaps the biggest change is in the restructuring of AugSem. “We want to take AugSem and shift the one credit add-on from an introduction to student services on campus into something more similar to a lab,” said deVries. “The new AugSem would be used to deepen experiences related to the courses and more explicitly about developing certain basic skills useful to each major.” This new AugSem was piloted on campus last fall and this semester. “It’s gone really well so far,” said DeVries. “Faculty are happy with this shift.”

There have been concerns raised by several departments, specifically ones facing cuts to required courses. The religion department faces a proposed reduction of required courses in the department from two to one. “GEDT is working closely with the religion department now, and we’ve listened to the board of regents and students as well,” said deVries. “We want to move beyond the one-course-versus-two-courses binary and collaboratively work toward a proposal that is best for students. Not everyone can get what they want, but we want to compromise as best as possible.”

It is of note that the last General Education Reform Proposal reduced the Religion Department requirement from three courses to the current two.

The full General Education Reform Proposal is public to all students via a Google Docs file accessible through Augsburg email accounts. Additional listening sessions and revision updates will be provided as the story develops.

This article was originally published in the Nov. 9, 2018 issue.