Gen. Ed. Redesign Voted Down

Olivia Allery, staff writer
Professors Doug Green (left), Jill Dawe (middle) and Jacqueline deVries (right), members of the General Education Committee, taken from Augsburg faculty website.

The General Education proposal that was set to bring about a new look for Augsburg’s liberal arts core curriculum was voted down last month. 

The proposal, which had been in the making for over five years, aimed to reflect and accommodate Augsburg’s increasingly diverse student body and move away from a more traditional liberal arts model. With the proposal being rejected, Augsburg will maintain the same curriculum and core liberal arts requirements that have been in place since 2002.

The General Education Design Committee (GEDC), composed of Augsburg faculty members, crafted their curriculum proposal starting in 2015 through extensive collaborative work with the Education Review Team and 35 listening sessions on campus. Some of the most significant proposed changes to the core curriculum requirements were four “Signature Curriculum” courses specifically based around the tenets of Augsburg’s mission statement with elements of social justice and experiential learning. The proposed redesign would also have necessitated that students complete a course with a sustainability component, two courses centered on global engagement and would have reduced course requirements from two courses to one course in some areas, such as arts. The GEDC wanted to include revisions that would make core classes more than “something to get out of the way,” and rather be important courses that would build students’ critical thinking skills and competency.

Jill Dawe, Music and Piano professor and GEDC member, believed that Augsburg’s liberal arts model was not sufficiently accommodating. “The older liberal arts education model is meant for students who are coming into college as first years who are straight out of high school, when we have 30-35% of our incoming first years are transfer students,” she said.

Doug Green, English professor and GEDC member, espoused the proposal’s aim to uphold values of diversity. “The proposal attempted changes that built on and revised the current Augsburg Core requirements; in many ways it was incremental or evolutionary reform we offered, especially in the vital areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion and of sustainability,” he said. It was the incremental nature of this reform that Green ultimately believed led to the proposal’s rejection. “Some faculty felt it didn’t go far enough in its changes, especially given the events of the past year; they wanted bigger changes,” Green said. “Others thought that it went too far and/or that it was too complex.”

Jacqueline deVries, History professor and GEDC member, believed that the surrounding context of COVID-19 might have impacted the proposal’s reception. “It could have been turned down due to budget concerns; some people didn’t believe it was the right time for this type of change given the pandemic and there was so much that had to be negotiated.” 

While the proposal was voted down, some believe Augsburg is still ahead of the curve by even having a curriculum revision. “Several universities have entirely abandoned their attempts to change their Gen. Ed. programs,” said Green. He and the other members of the GEDC hope that this revision was the first step in creating change to Augsburg’s core curriculum.