Gen. Ed. requirements could change by 2014

As the new legislative season embarks, one piece of legislation that passed last year may have an impact on future USF students.

When HB 7135 passed last spring, the state authorized a change to General Education requirements in an effort to create a more standardized core curriculum.

While USFs current General Education policies, set by USFs General Education Council of 26 faculty members and three undergraduate students, require students to take 36 credit hours across six core areas, the new policy, which was initially set to take effect in the 2014-15 academic year, would require students to take 30 credit hours across five state-set core areas. Universities would also be required to offer up to 5 state-standardized courses in each core area.

The Florida Department of Education set up a steering committee to develop the core areas and courses.

But after receiving feedback from faculty across the state, Karla Davis-Salazar, chair and coordinator for USF General Education and director for USF Global Citizenship General Education program, said some of the changes may not be as drastic.

The majority of people think that Gen. Ed is, or should be, the signature of a university, she said. We all like to carve out our identities. Many faculty feel curriculum is up to them. Theyre the ones delivering it, and feel their toes are being stepped on.

Currently USFs core areas include English composition, fine arts and humanities, human and cultural diversity in a global context, mathematics and quantitative reasoning, natural sciences and social and behavioral sciences. The five core areas proposed by the state include communication, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Some of the areas such as humanities and social sciences are so hard to come up with just five courses, she said. Theyre so different and have so much value.

At a Faculty Senate meeting in January, when the changes were being discussed, Emanuel Donchin, a psychology professor, said he didnt like the idea.

The way I see it, its an abomination, he said. The notion that you can freeze the courses, can only be made by someone who has no understanding of science, technology or innovation.

Davis-Salazar said faculty across the state offered similar feedback: they wanted to see the number of required General Education hours go back up to 36 hours, they wanted to see more core areas included and they wanted to move back the implementation date.

USF, she said, suggested creating a global focus as a core area.

The review process will continue until September 2013, when it will be put in front of the State Board of Education and Board of Governors for approval.

Davis-Salazar said regardless of the changes, USF would still maintain its uniqueness in its delivery of courses.

Whatever changes are made, it wont affect the quality of education, she said. Well make sure theyre quality courses.