In this report, CCVC has made the case for revisions to the Common Curriculum by documenting the many conversations over the past two years and citing the relevant literature on general education reform. While there are many strengths to the Common Curriculum, including its heavy use of high-impact practices, a revised general education program could make the curriculum more purposeful, reflective, integrative, and sequential. Changes to the Common Curriculum required by SD 2020 could have profound effects on CSB/SJU graduates as they prepare for lives of work, personal fulfillment, and citizenship in the 21st Century.
In our work, we have been buoyed by the tremendous enthusiasm for curricular change voiced by faculty in public forums, meetings with departments, and individual comments submitted as part of the SD 2020 process. We recognize that the prospect of curriculum reform may generate opposition from departments and individuals with vested interests in the status quo. But if the conversation is focused on what is best for students and is supported with evidence from the growing scholarship on general education reform, it can energize the campus. General education reform "can forge community across disciplinary and generational boundaries. Lively debate about general education often invigorates a campus, bringing faculty together as members of their guild to discuss their educational mission" (Arnold and Civian 1997, par. 22).
As the conversation proceeds, there will always be uncertainties that can't be fully anticipated or resolved until we actually adopt and try a revised curriculum. We may not find the "perfect" plan. "Criticizing a faculty for not agreeing on a single 'ideal' model of general education is akin to condemning the United States Congress for not enacting a universally agreeable tax code," writes Derek Bok in Higher Education in America. "There are simply too many issues to resolve, many of which are matters on which thoughtful educators have disagreed for generations" (2013, p. 175). In their article, "Hand in Hand: The Role of Culture, Faculty, Identity, and Mission in Sustaining General Education Reform," Tim Riordan and Stephen Sharkley agree that faculty should seek improvements in their general education programs without the paralysis of perfection: "In curriculum reform, perhaps especially in reform of general education, there will always be unanswered questions and perceived obstacles that lead us to hesitate before moving forward. At some point, however, the only way to determine the quality of a reform is to try it and learn from our practice" (2010, p. 204). This report has presented numerous ideas that could be shaped into a curriculum with vast improvements over what we have now.
In this report, we have crafted principles to guide the process of curricular reform, as well as principles to guide campus teams as they design curricular models. We look forward to the campus conversations on developing a general education curriculum that best serves the needs and expectations of our students.