Task force proposes up to 60-credit LAS core

By Casey Gale

The possibility for Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) students to have a 60-credit core curriculum in the future was discussed at a recent forum regarding the yet-to-be-finalized new LAS core proposal, sponsored by the Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee on Academic Policy (LASCAP).

On April 1, faculty convened to voice questions and concerns that had carried over from the last meeting on the topic, which took place on Feb. 6.      “We need to start with what students need,” said Dr. Jonathan Millen, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences (CLAES), and member of the faculty-led task force involved with creating the new core. “If that number ends up being 60 credits instead of 42, then we’re providing what students need.”

Even with new possibilities for “double-dipping,” students said that 60 credits sounded like a few too many.

“There should be a happy medium,” said Meg Scheels, junior public relations major. “Maybe less than 60, but still some revamping of what’s required to better prepare Rider students.”

Included in the possible 60-credit core could be a three-credit oral communication course. The question of whether such a class is necessary for all LAS students was a heavily debated topic, as it was in the last meeting, and remains a point of contention. While some individuals argued that they include enough of a public speaking element within their courses, others, particularly in the Department of Communication and Journalism, felt as though a course focused solely on oral communication was a necessity for success with future employers.

Despite the questions from faculty, students seem united in believing in the class’ worth.

“I love speech classes,” said Marissa Friedrich, a junior radio/TV major. “They really helped me increase my self-confidence and comfort talking to large audiences. I think [having an oral communication requirement] is a good idea because [Liberal Arts and Sciences] majors need to be able to speak to the public.”

Junior behavioral neuroscience major Danielle Minichino agreed.

“Public speaking is very important, and a skill everyone should acquire,” she said.

LASCAP is the entity that has final authority to decide which courses can be counted in the core. There are presently no criteria in place regarding what constitutes a core course, which is why the task force has proposed that an advisory committee be created to help guide faculty in the decision-making process. The multi-disciplinary committee would represent departments across LAS and would collaborate with faculty as they design courses for the core.

Some professors were open to, but skeptical about, the idea.

“The role of any advisory board to LASCAP and/or the faculty should be limited to advising,” said Dr. Linda Materna, a Spanish professor. “That is, to serving as a resource for faculty uncertain as to how to design a course such that it fits the criteria of the proposed LAS core, and possibly to serving as a consulting body should LASCAP be uncertain whether a particular course indeed fits the criteria.

“It should not function, in my opinion, as a gateway entity that stands between, on the one hand, the department or program submitting the course, and, on the other, LASCAP.”

Dr. Patricia Mosto, dean of CLAES, said that the task force will work through the summer to address faculty-presented issues. The next meeting on the subject will take place in early fall.

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