New General-Education Curriculum Proposed for UNC-Chapel Hill

Over a hundred faculty worked with a handful of students and staff members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to produce a proposed new general education curriculum for the university.

Their report, “Making Connections: An Initial Proposal to Revise the General Education Curriculum,” is a significant step toward the first major overhaul of UNC-CH’s general education curriculum since 1980. Its genesis was a 1995 study within the university that called for a reevaluation of the curriculum in place. The Curriculum Review Steering Committee presenting the report considers its proposal just a “draft,” expecting a vigorous campus discussion over their suggestions.

Among the major changes proposed:

• Reducing the general-education component of an A.B. degree at UNC-CH to 42 hours and the “upper level” Arts and Sciences general-education requirement to nine hours, from 44 hours and 12 hours, respectively.

• Replacing the English 11/12 requirement with Rhetoric A/B, courses that would teach the arts of written and oral argument, composition, and rhetorical analysis.

• Replacing the mathematical science course requirement with a quantitative reasoning requirement.

• Eliminating the swim-test requirement and the required two physical-activity courses (for no academic credit) with one Wellness course for one hour of academic credit. The Wellness course would, “in addition to physical activity, … include topics such as nutrition, exercise science, weight control, time management, and stress management.”

• Changing the requirement for two Social Sciences courses to three courses in Social and Behavioral Sciences, including one that “engage[s] in historical analysis.”

• Changing the philosophy requirement to one of “philosophical and moral reasoning,” stipulating that the philosophical course taken “contains significant content in ethics and moral reasoning.”

• Replacing the Western Historical/Non-Western/Comparative (two courses) and Cultural Diversity requirements (one course that also must meet a different requirement) with the Connections requirements.

The first Connections requirement is “Applying Foundations Across the Curriculum,” which involves one “C” course (for communications skills), one “language integration experiences” course (which involves either taking an additional hour of a foreign language, living for at least a semester in a “campus language house,” studying abroad or working at an approved internship where a target language is used predominantly), and one “Q” course (either a course that applies quantitative reasoning to a discipline or a course in mathematical sciences).

Another is “U.S. Diversity,” which is one course (that must also meet a different requirement) that deals with “the interaction between at least two of the following groups or subcultures: African Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans” and “might also engage other aspects of diversity, such as age, class, disability, gender, region, religion, or sexuality.”

Another is “Global Citizenship,” which involves three courses that also must meet a different requirement: “Global Issues: Transnational Connections,” “Cultural Breadth: Chronological Scope,” and “Cultural Breadth: Spatial Scope,” which are intended to give students an “understanding of at least one major area of the world outside the United States, of at least one non-western [sic] culture, and of global forces, patterns, and trends as well as the historical origins of those trends.”

The last is “Experiential Education,” which includes “service learning, internships, intensive fieldwork or field-based research, study abroad, and practice-centered courses in the creative arts.”

The proposal awaits the approval process, which will take place during the present academic year. The proposed curriculum revision is available online