Message from the Provost
As part of our efforts to advance Loyola's Strategic Plan, I am pleased to report that the Division of Academic Affairs has nearly completed a three-year process of revising the University Core Curriculum for undergraduate students. A proposal outlining the major tenets of the revision to the Core was presented to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Loyola Board of Trustees in early December, where it was reviewed, discussed, and enthusiastically approved. I am writing now to provide you with more details regarding the revised Core, along with the plan in place for its implementation, which is effective in Fall Semester 2012. You will find these same details on Loyola's Core Curriculum website at LUC.edu/core.
The present Core Curriculum requires students to complete up to 15 courses across 10 key Knowledge Areas, along with 4 courses in the "Values" curriculum, selected from the Core or a student's major. This model has, we believe, been emblematic of Loyola's commitment to academic rigor, relevant skill development, and Ignatian values. Nevertheless, over the years, faculty, administrators, and students alike have recognized its limitations. These include: 1) the lack of an introductory-level ethics course, foundational in content and emphasis; 2) the absence of sequenced courses in the Knowledge Areas, allowing students the opportunity to study a subject area with deepening complexity; and 3) a deficit of engaging learning opportunities that better integrate student learning in the Core and the major.
To address the limitations of the present Core Curriculum, the University Core Curriculum Committee (UCCC) and the Board of Undergraduate Studies (BUS) have worked diligently with faculty, deans, academic staff, and students to develop three significant changes to the Core:
- A Foundational Ethics Course, required of all students, will replace the series of applied ethics courses that currently fulfill this requirement. Given the assumption that a foundation in ethics is a hallmark of a Jesuit education, this new ethics requirement will be fulfilled through introductory-level ethics courses taught by ethics faculty who reside in the theology and philosophy departments. (It should be noted that this is a new three-credit hour requirement and will not fulfill requirements in other knowledge areas, bringing the maximum number of required Core credit hours from 45 to 48 credits.)
- A Developmental Sequence for the Core will bring a sequential structure to the Knowledge Areas where two courses are required. Courses will be designated as either foundational or advanced. The foundational courses provide a common experience for all undergraduate students, while advanced courses provide broad curricular choices to the student for their further exploration.
- An Engaged Learning Requirement provides students with the counterbalance of "learning in context" not routinely available in traditional coursework, as well as an integrating experience for the Core and the Major. Through experiential learning courses such as internships, service learning, field work, research with faculty, study abroad, public performances, and capstones, students will fulfill the engaged learning requirement, while earning three credit hours. Three of the Core Values—understanding diversity in the U.S. or the world, understanding and promoting justice, and understanding spirituality or faith in action—will continue to be incorporated into the Knowledge Areas courses but will not be separate requirements. In effect, the four-course requirement on Values has been replaced with a single course requirement in engaged learning.
A Core Implementation Committee was constituted shortly after the Trustees approved the recommended changes in December, and met to begin its work in earnest before the Christmas holiday. The committee, led by David B. Slavsky, PhD, director of the Center for Science and Math Education and professor of physics, has established broad implementation principles to guide its work. These principles commit to:
- Making a smooth and timely transition to the new Core
- Maintaining equity and fairness for all students
- Allowing sufficient flexibility to enable students to graduate in four years
The Implementation Committee's work continues to address the needs of three distinct populations of students: Incoming first-year students; continuing Loyola students; and transfer students. The needs of each student population are being addressed carefully and systematically, with the overarching goal of supporting students' efforts to graduate in a timely manner.
I could provide you with many more details regarding the new Core, but my message would be even longer than it already is. Instead, I invite you once again to visit Loyola's Core Curriculum website at LUC.edu/core. We are in the process of developing the site to make it a trusted source of information regarding new requirements, descriptions and explanations, courses, guidelines for students, FAQs, and advising tools for faculty and academic advisors. I encourage students to visit the site in preparation for advising meetings as you get ready to register for classes for both summer and fall of 2012. Know that the Core website is a work in progress and that you should plan to visit more than once! You may also e-mail questions concerning the new Core to CORE2012@luc.edu.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Anthony Cardoza, PhD, faculty director of the Core Curriculum and professor of history, for his leadership in overseeing the Core Curriculum since 2009 and for the critical role he played in the Core revision. I would also be remiss if I did not thank the many individuals who have served over the past three years on the University Core Curriculum Committee, as well as other faculty and administrators who have contributed tirelessly to the Core revision. Your commitment to our students and service on behalf of the University is appreciated more than you know.
John P. Pelissero, PhD