General Education program changes affect registration

GVL / Archive
Professor Danielle Leek speaking to her communications class.

GVL Archives

GVL / Archive Professor Danielle Leek speaking to her communications class.

Kara Haight

With registration right around the corner, Grand Valley State University students may be seeing different classes on the roster this year. This semester, GVSU is getting ready to implement a change to the general education system with the addition of the category titled ‘Issues.’

Keith Rhodes, interim chair of the University Curriculum Committee’s General Education Committee, said the adjustments to the program aren’t completely new, but the changes are still in progress.

“The new plan was adopted last year,” Rhodes said. “But we’re still in a transition period.”

The development began in November 2011 when a final proposal outlined the conversation surrounding upper-level theme courses. The proposal was approved in January 2012, and a month later the design outlined a shift to “replace the Themes component of the program with a new upper-level component called Issues,” according to GVSU’s general education website.

‘Issues’ courses would cover a range of topics from globalization to human rights and identity, with the general education website listing six different categories.

The plan stated on the approved proposal was to begin offering ‘Issues’ courses in the fall 2013 semester for students, with the hope that more courses within ‘Issues’ would become available over time.

With the fall 2013 semester just a few months out, both faculty and advisers are preparing students for the new options.

“On the faculty side, the new plan includes a lot of changes in our internal assessment of general education learning goals,” Rhodes said. “For students, no doubt the most interesting change is that we are phasing out ‘Themes’ and replacing them.”

Carol Griffin, director of GVSU’s general education program, said more information about the new course will be available in the coming weeks.

“We are going to email all faculty advisers, professional advisers and students about how we will be transitioning to the new general program,” Griffin said.

As the transitions begin next semester, freshmen and transfer students entering GVSU after fall 2014 will no longer have the option of ‘Themes’, only ‘Issues” courses to choose from.

But Rhodes said students planning to graduate in the 2013-2014 academic school year will be affected by the general education program changes.

“Students who are currently enrolled and plan to graduate later will also be part of the transition plan, even if they will have more time to adjust to it,” Rhodes said “We’re still generating the final information on that transition plan.”

Griffin said the existing general education program with students choosing two courses within a theme will retire with the April 2013 graduates, with new courses being offered under the ‘Issues’ title during registration in March 2013.

Griffin added that the addition of ‘Issues’ courses will benefit students in the long run.

“Students will be able to take any of the ‘Issues’ and ‘Themes’ courses as long as it is two different prefixes, and only one course can be at the 100/200 level,” Griffin said. “(This) means that students will have far more courses to choose from to complete their upper-division general education requirement.”
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