A faculty-run committee details potential general education requirement changes

By Molly Korzenowski 

 

Foreign language would no longer be required. Students would have more control over the classes they take. A Bible proficiency test could replace Introduction to the Bible.

During a presentation at the faculty senate meeting, the General Education Committee predicted half of the students that took the Bible proficiency exam would pass. 

“That’s wildly optimistic,” Jim Beilby, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, said. “They don’t know anything.” 

The committee presented potential revisions to general education requirements September 18. Formed last May in the face of the budget deficit, the Gen Ed Committee sought to reduce costs by tweaking the program. 

The size of the Gen Ed program will remain at 122 credits, two credits over the state requirement, despite talk of downsizing. Murmurs erupted from the faculty in attendance as committee chair Joel Frederickson informed them that Bethel’s program was similar to other institutions.  

But the program did need some rearrangements and updates. 

The Bible proficiency test would be available to incoming freshmen wanting to bypass Introduction to the Bible. Senate President Andy Bramsen said Bethel would provide online study resources students could access before school began to prepare. 

The tentative plan would eliminate six tags: lab science (D), foreign language (S), world culture (U), cooperative systems (G), Christian issues capstone (P) and math, science and technology (K).

CWILT would turn into CWIXT. Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) would become American Experiences (X). The revised tag would encourage the use of minority voices in the curriculum, according to Frederickson. 

The D tag and the K tag would be substituted for a new course: Scientific Discoveries, Dilemmas, and Debates. This class would be taught in large lecture style by three faculty members. Combining these tags would ensure students who come in with science credits would still take a class in the field at Bethel. 

A new capstone course, Whole and Holy Persons, would replace the P tag. The class would be less detailed, only offering two credits. The new Gen Ed plan would also allow varsity athletes to skip the leisure and lifetime sport, the Q tag.

“In this world that we live in today, students at Bethel can’t navigate Bethel without language,” 

Laura Sánchez González said. “So only if they choose to take a language they won’t have to take it… Wow.” 

Language will no longer be required in the new plan, but language classes, such as Greek and Spanish, would still be available within the Arts and Humanities Emphasis. 

In order to give students more power over their learning, the new plan would allow them to choose an emphasis to fulfill credits that canceled tags used to fill. Students would pick an area of interest and take three classes in that field. 

If approved, the plan will take effect fall 2020 starting with the incoming class. Discussion meetings will be held to make any changes. Faculty will vote December 15. 

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