As the time to select fall classes draws closer, students will once again look at their degree audits and try to figure out how to fulfill all of their degree requirements, including their General Education requirements (GE’s). Transy has a broad GE curriculum, thanks to the pursuit of a liberal arts education, but some argue that the way Transy has built this broad system does not do justice to certain fields of study. This column will examine whether Transy GE’s should include a stronger math and science section.
As the GE requirements for math and science currently stand, a student is only required to take one math course and one science course during their entire career at Transy. While students have an opportunity to use math and science classes as Area IV requirements, it’s only rarely that students outside the math and science fields choose to use math and science courses to actually fulfill their Area IV requirements. It’s also true that many students come to Transy with AP math and science classes, and this lets them avoid ever stepping foot in BSC. Such a minimal math and science requirement does not seem to conform with the ideal of a liberal arts education. Taking a single class in the fields does not allow students to gain an appreciation for the skills of that discipline, and one class is not a nearly comprehensive enough representation of the disciplines that we expect from the liberal arts.
However, this argument— that one class does not adequately represent an entire discipline or expose students to enough skills within a field— can be made for every section of the GE requirements. Taking a single Humanities, Fine Arts, or Social Science class does not make you an expert within one of those disciplines any more than taking a single math or science class does. Many students just happen to take more of these classes because they use them to fulfill their Areas IV and V. Those same opportunities exist in the math and science fields; students just choose not to take them because of the skill base that is required. That’s not something that Transy can control. Additionally, changing the number of math or science courses required would probably force a similar expansion in the other GE requirements, and students simply do not have room for that many classes.
The larger issue that’s at stake is whether our current GE system is viable. This debate over math and science GE’s represents a microcosm of the larger issues regarding the GE system and the potential changes people want to make. Though this column has merely explored the issue, rather than advocating for one side, students need to consider how they feel about the current GE system—would you keep or change our current system?
This discussion illuminates the broader point that the GE system is designed to foster the spirit of liberal arts education, yet may be failing students on that point. The good news is that there is currently a review of the GE system happening to address any issues with the current curriculum. So, if you get asked your opinions on the GE system, please give your honest opinion. Maybe you think the current system perfectly exposes you to various disciplines, or maybe you think the GE’s do not really encapsulate the liberal arts. You might not even be sure what the goals of the GE system are currently. Regardless of your opinion, be honest and constructive when considering how Transy can better improve our current system of GE’s so that we can produce effective change for the entire system, not just one segment, like math and science.