Board Approves New Undergraduate Curriculum

Monday, October 27, 2008

At their October 10, 2008 meeting, the University’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the proposed new undergraduate curriculum, the culmination of a five-year process that sought to consider and define the nature and the goals of a Jesuit education in the 21st century and design a curriculum that would reflect them.

In a message to the University community, SJU President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., praised the work of the Steering Committee that spearheaded the process, noting the Board’s vote “expresses… confidence that the new proposal reflects the University’s mission to provide an education that is distinguished by intellectual excellence, academic rigor, and is rooted in a faith that promotes justice. This reflection of our Catholic and Jesuit identity is critical to the Trustees, as I know it is to each of you.”

The new curriculum requires the completion of 40 courses, 18 of which are from the General Education Program. Students must complete one course addressing diversity, globalization or non-Western studies, one ethics-based course and a writing-intensive course.

A required Faith and Reason course will engage students in a more intentional exploration of the difficult issues concerning reason and religious belief, noted Provost Brice Wachterhauser.

“Jesuit education historically has had a solid foundation in the liberal arts.  The strong General Education component of the new curriculum maintains that while giving students increased flexibility through the integrative learning courses from the College of Arts & Sciences and the recommended six free electives.”

A First Year Seminar for all incoming students will provide an introduction to the academic rigors of college-level learning, and the challenge and excitement of intellectual exploration of a topic of shared interest. It will also focus on developing students’ research skills and offer outside-the-classroom cultural and service experiences.

The College Councils and Faculty Senate have been asked to create an Implementation Committee to devise a blueprint for rolling out the new curriculum, with probable implimentation slated for Fall 2010.

“The new curriculum gives us a real opportunity to bring about significant change in the architecture of a Saint Joseph’s education—for the first time since the 1980s, when there was relatively little change enacted,” Wachterhauser said.  “It’s been a long process, and one not without a lot of thought and passion invested in it.  The outcome offers the promise of a rigorous educational experience grounded in Spirit, Intellect and Purpose.”

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