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College discusses changes to graduate qualities

Emily Anderson
Contributing Writer

During A.R.C.H., many students are first introduced to the qualities that they are expected to acquire during their time at The College of Wooster. However, after A.R.C.H. the importance of these qualities fades in comparison to more immediate concerns, such as scheduling and GPA.

What exactly are graduate qualities and why does the College as an institution have them? In the words of Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement Henry Kruezman, they are the “characteristics students are expected to acquire at the College.” Graduate qualities are why we take core curriculum classes and have specific majors — all of these things come together to mold students to meet these specific attributes Wooster deems important to cultivate during our time here. According to Kruezman, everything that students do here at Wooster should contribute to acquiring these graduate qualities, as “It’s really the totality of the educational experience” rather than simply the curriculum that is important. While the classes we take are incredibly significant, they should be seen as stepping stones to reach these qualities rather than simply requirements to graduate. As stated by Kruezman, over the rest of the fall semester, the current curriculum will be examined to see whether classes can be traced back to their respective departmental learning outcomes, which should be easy to link back to the graduate qualities. This way, departments will be able to see what they are, and are not accomplishing in terms of hitting the mark on graduate qualities.

All of this being said, nothing in terms of the school’s overall mission statement is changing —simply the learning outcomes are. Last Thursday, Kruezman sat down with a number of students to discuss what those changes will be. First and foremost, the category of Global Engagement and Respect for Diversity has been refined to simply Global Engagement, as Respect for Diversity now belongs under the category of Justice and Social Responsibility. Through refining the Global Engagement category, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) has grown from what used to be the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement. CDI’s goals and objectives — respect, diversity and doing whatever can be done to make sure all students feel included on campus — still reflect what the previous group wanted to accomplish, but the focus now is more on making sure students feel included. Previously the department’s work was split between academic and student affairs whereas now, it is done solely through student affairs.

The Justice and Social Responsibility category seems to be the area with the most change and speculation, due to how ambiguous some requirements can be. The major changes in this category are the inclusion of diversity issues, as understanding the nature of identities is a matter of social justice and integrity. An additional goal for students, as stated in the new policy, is to learn how to “actively promote equity and the inclusion of all.” While the changes are incredibly important and worth noting, students that attended the meeting with Kruezman were more concerned with the “commitment to community and serving others” portion of the current Justice and Social Responsibility quality, as it is very difficult to determine whether or not students actively meet this standard. Exhibiting a commitment to community and serving others is particularly ambiguous, as there is no real way to tell whether or not this requirement is met or how one can assess it once it has been deemed as met. According to Kruezman, this idea “widens the bubble of what education is,” as this particular quality can only be cultivated outside of the classroom, by actively engaging in the community. However, as students pointed out, there comes a problem when things like volunteering and civic engagement are required.

“You want people to be demonstrating these qualities, and not because it’s an obligation,” said Sophia Anderson ’17. “If when you graduate, these things aren’t translated, you miss the whole point.”

Students at the meeting also took note of the portion of the graduate qualities that highlights respecting diversity of opinion. “I’ve noticed that you can’t say some things,” said Petra Boutros ‘17, “Even just opinions that 50 percent of the nation [holds], you can’t say sometimes. That’s concerning, I think.” Wooster as an institution can seem like somewhat of a liberal bubble, but it is important to recognize the opposing viewpoints that exist. “It’s nice to have people you agree with,” said Boutros. “But sometimes you need someone to present a different perspective to have knowledge of what other people think. When you graduate from here, you don’t want to be appalled by the world and what people think. Your opinions would be much stronger if you were to evaluate all of the others.”

This thought ties directly back into the idea that Wooster’s graduate qualities need to be represented within the curriculum. “We need to provide spaces in classrooms where people can engage each other critically,” said Kruezman, “We need to provide diverse readings with different points of view and different perspectives.”

Ultimately, the changes in graduate qualities seem like a good step forward in cultivating the character traits Wooster wants students to have by the time students leave. Though there is still much speculation in certain areas, a lot of progress has been made. “I think it reflects more of where we are right now,” said Anderson, “It would be interesting if students would have to meet with their advisors to see where they are on this.” From here, the focus seems to be shifting from looking at requirements for classes and graduate requirements to thinking about where the student as a person is and where they would like to go.

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