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Task forces propose changes to (C) curriculum requirement

Waverly Hart
News Editor

On Monday Feb. 19, several students gathered in the Babcock Formal Lounge to discuss proposed changes to the College’s curriculum in regards to issues of diversity, social justice and global engagement.

The proposed changes concerned the Cultural Difference (C) graduation requirement. A handout given to students by the Diversity and Social Justice task force at the meeting suggested that Wooster students complete one Diversity (D) course, one Social Justice (SJ) course and one Global Engagement (G) course.

The handout described a Diversity course as one that “acknowledges and explores the differences between individuals and groups of people.”

“A diversity requirement would focus on the ways difference shapes interactions between individuals and groups, and examines how power and privilege shape social situations, structures and institutions,” the handout continued, noting that this should be represented within “multiple social categories.”

The handout went on to describe a Social Justice course as one that “explores the responsibilities and obligations people have to confront different forms of inequality and emphasizes a commitment to community, civic engagement and serving others.”

“Social justice addresses complex networks of injustice and environmental vulnerabilities, as well as the efforts societies have taken and could take to bring about a more just and equitable world and a safe and sustainable environment,” the handout continued.

Two groups, the Diversity & Social Justice Task Force (DSJTF) and Global Engagement Task Force (GETF), have been working since early fall to make The College of Wooster’s curriculum more reflective of the Graduate Qualities. Once they were formed, the Social Justice Task Force held a series of meetings to draft the changes to the curriculum. The task force’s work included researching similar requirements at other institutions, surveying faculty and students on the current curriculum and gathering input from departments that might find it more difficult to incorporate such themes into their classes, such as departments in math and natural science disciplines.

At the meeting on Feb. 19, students were asked their opinions on the proposed (D) and (SJ) requirements. Many supported requiring students to take more than just one course focused on diversity and inclusion.

“It needs to go beyond a (C) credit. It needs to be integrated into every class,” one student said, referring to the cultural awareness currently required in the curriculum.

One concern was the broadness of the credit. As of now, there are over 400 classes marked as a (C) course. However, the chair of the task force, professor Jimmy A. Noriega of the Theatre and Dance Department, believes (D) and (SJ) requirements will help to narrow the focus of such courses, making their learning objectives more specific and effective. Overall, Noriega thought the student meeting went well.

“The student meeting was extremely encouraging because of their enthusiastic support for the new proposed requirements. We heard students tell us what [courses] they wanted to see … incorporated into their education throughout their undergraduate experience and prepare them for life once they graduate,” Noriega said.

Noriega is of the opinion that, if implemented, the changes would give the students more freedom to choose courses that they’re interested in.

“Changing the curriculum, it will provide more opportunities for people to offer these types [diversity and social justice] of courses. It’s going to allow students to take classes related to their interests that still meet the definitions of diversity and social justice,” Noriega stated.

After taking student feedback into consideration, the proposal will be presented at a faculty discussion in March. Then all three new proposals will go through revisions before finally being voted on in a meeting in April. If passed, the curriculum changes would begin an implementation phase in the fall of 2018 and go into effect in the fall of 2019.

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