Arts’ core to be revamped in 2010

Kate Drew

In the spring of 2010, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences will revamp the core curriculum, which has remained unchanged for 20 years. The process has been about two years in the making and will finally culminate at the end of this academic year.

In September of 2006, a committee was formed to discuss the possibility of a university core curriculum. After deciding in favor of this proposal, the Council of Deans agreed that because the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is at the heart of all the core curriculums, looking into changes overall should be put on hold until the college could revamp its own core.

Most core curriculums have a life span of about 10 to 15 years, while the arts and sciences core at Villanova has been in place since about 1988. The goal is to maintain traditions but update the core with changes that reflect the differences in the student body and faculty over the past 20 years.

“The nature of the Villanova student body has changed dramatically, and there is a radically different faculty,” said Dr. John Johannes, vice president for Academic Affairs.

SAT scores are higher, as are GPAs, and more and more students are coming into Villanova with AP credits. Both the students and faculty have raised issues suggesting that there is an overlap between the core courses and the courses students had in high school.

In addition, there is a concern about redundancy within the core curriculum itself. It has been questioned whether or not certain courses such as ACS, philosophy and ethics reinforce each other the way they are intended to, or if they are merely repeating concepts. The concerns of the students and faculty made it clear that it was time for a new look.

Unfortunately, the financial crisis in the fall of 2008 turned attention to budgets, restructuring the college office and other issues. Plans for changes to the arts and sciences core was put on hold and not revisited again until last spring.

Since then, steps have been taken to implement changes in the core curriculum as quickly and efficiently as possible. Seven task forces were set up with the intention of providing an overall idea of what needed to be done in terms of changes to the core.

“This process has involved both faculty and students,” said Tom Smith, associate dean for Humanities.

Some focused on the core curriculum, while others looked at other issues such as promoting unity within the Villanova community. After completing their research, the task forces presented their findings to the faculty, and finally, to the Dean’s Advisory Council.

The Council is currently working through their recommendations and will propose their thoughts to Fr. Kail Ellis O.S.A., dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, when they are finished. From there, Ellis will share his own thoughts with the faculty and move forward with the process.

“The hope is that recommendations will be brought back to the faculty of the college in the spring,” Smith said.

After decisions have been made regarding the core curriculum within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the possibility of a university core curriculum will be revisited.