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University Council Votes for General Education Proposal

Transformative plan begins with freshman class entering in 2017


The University Council—BU’s faculty governing body—yesterday voted unanimously, with one abstention, to approve a proposal for the University-Wide General Education Program that promises to transform undergraduate education at BU. General education is the common core required of undergraduates in all academic programs. It includes a minimum of 40 credits of course work, and is required for University accreditation. Currently, each of the 10 BU undergraduate schools and colleges has its own general education program, and all of them would be replaced by the University-wide BU Hub, as the approved program is known.

Wednesday’s vote was the second and final required approval for the program, which was passed in March by the University Council Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policies. Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, will now appoint a task force to implement the program over four years, beginning with the freshman class entering in 2017. Current students would not be affected.

“The decision by the University Council to adopt this proposal is a tremendous step forward for BU,” says Morrison. “It signals a bold, transformative move by the University to further strengthen an already excellent undergraduate education program. It is a reflection of the hard work of many people and of a truly University-wide collaborative process that included countless hours of research, consultation, and thoughtful, lively discussion with students and faculty. We are excited for the impact this will have on undergraduate education in the years ahead.”

The proposal for the BU Hub is the work of a 14-member faculty task force that solicited input from hundreds of members of the University community in dozens of meetings over the past two years.

The new program calls for BU undergraduates to develop core skills, knowledge, and habits of mind through both course work and cocurricular programs that will prepare them to succeed. One fundamental change included in the program is a Cross-College Challenge, a collaborative project by students from different colleges that will address “contemporary issues or enduring human questions” by producing “a tangible product,” ranging from a written work to a circuit board to a work of art. Morrison says the Cross-College Challenge was requested by virtually every constituent group the task force consulted, and is intended to give students more experience working with team members with different experiences and skills.

The original task force report notes that the BU Hub is intended to “encapsulate an approach to education designed to equip students to engage with complexity, diversity, change, and with enduring features of human cultures.” It is based on a set of core capacities—“areas of knowledge, skills, and habits of mind”—to be acquired by BU graduates, equipping them to thrive personally, professionally, and as citizens.

Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

4 Comments on University Council Votes for General Education Proposal

  • Sceptic on 05.12.2016 at 7:33 am

    Could this be any more vague?

    Will there be specific course requirements? If so, how many? What are these courses called? Who will teach them? These seem like important questions, considering the program starts with next year’s freshmen.

    Here’s a thought: there already is a program dedicated to the ideals in the last paragraph. It’s called the Writing Program, and it could be a lot better if the university gave its faculty the respect they deserve.

    Instead, Writing Program instructors are treated like second-class members of the BI community: they are underpaid and lack access to tenure-track positions that other departments offer to lure outstanding talent. Many are adjuncts and graduate students whose teaching responsibilities prevent them from participating in career development and outside research, things that would improve their performance in the classroom.

  • Logic Rules on 05.12.2016 at 9:44 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It looks like a “Liberal Arts ” core will be replaced by “General Education” core. If this is a truly an institution of higher learning, the incoming students should already have these skills upon admission. Like most institutions of higher learning, is BU simply “self serving” and wanting to keep students here for 4 years? I sure would like to know how many student graduate within 4 years.

  • Alina Chenausky on 05.12.2016 at 1:41 pm

    Thank goodness I got admitted the year before. I would not have gone to BU if they instituted this general education BS for my class

  • We are C.G.S. on 05.12.2016 at 1:44 pm

    Isn’t this what the college of general studies is? What will that school become if their first two years will be the same as any other school? From an outside view in, no one wants to be in a program like CGS and now students will be forced to start out this way. Did they even consult any students or recent graduates to see if they would like this idea? I bet you a very small percentage would have said they would have wanted it.

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