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A Solid Core in the Big Apple

By Raanan Geberer

To enrich its strong undergraduate liberal arts education, the College of Mount Saint Vincent is revising its core curriculum for the first time since the 1980s, with input from students, professors, and administrators.

A core curriculum provides a broad foundation of general knowledge, with the goal of making students well-rounded individuals. Having a core curriculum is a requirement for accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, says Dean of the Undergraduate College Dr. Paul Douillard.

Paul Douillard

Paul Douillard
Dean of the Undergraduate College

According to Dr. Douillard, one of the main concerns in revising the core was to increase the variety and number of available courses to fulfill requirements. CMSV’s current core encompasses a wide variety of fields, including literature, fine arts, philosophy, religion/religous studies, economics, psychology, and mathematics. While the idea of a well-rounded education will continue, the core will be reduced by 6 credits, from 55 credits to 49. This will give students more opportunities to take electives outside of their majors.

Sarah Stevenson

Sarah Stevenson
Associate Professor of English

Students will also have more choices within the core itself. Dr. Sarah Stevenson, Associate Professor of English, is spearheading the overhaul of the Mount’s core curriculum. She says students will still be required to take English literature, but will now have a choice of taking a drama class or a poetry class to fulfill the requirement.

In the sciences, rather than taking three credits of biology, three of math, three of chemistry, and so on, students can now select one math course, one science class, and then a third in either math or science, says Dr. Douillard.

Another innovation will be a freshman seminar program. Students will be able to sign up for a seminar of their choice,during which they will not only learn about a particular subject, but how to ask questions, complete original research, develop ideas, and other “building blocks” of learning.

The revised core curriculum is awaiting official approval. Changes will be phased in over a period of time, and courses are still being developed, says Dr. Stevenson.

The new curriculum will firmly position the Mount for a new phase of educational excellence.

“Students will feel that they have some control over their courses, and be engaged by the exciting courses that the new core will offer,” says Dr. Stevenson.

“The increased attention to critical thinking, in particular, and to active inquiry, will prepare our students well as they embark on careers or graduate school,” she says.