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    October 26, 2006
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Gen-ed taking shape

Implementation extended until 2008; pilot courses debut in spring 2007

An eventful semester for the faculty members, students and administrators who are helping to shape Temple’s new program for general education (or “gen-ed”) has reached a crescendo.

             

Three pivotal developments in the gen-ed implementation process have been announced in the last few weeks. The Board of Trustees approved President Ann Weaver Hart’s recommendation to extend the gen-ed implementation process until fall 2008, and to add flexibility to the number of courses that may be offered in each gen-ed subject category.

             

Only days later, the first several of what will be 14 innovative gen-ed pilot courses were unveiled for spring 2007 registration — the culmination of a nearly year-long process spearheaded by the General Education Executive Committee (GEEC), the body charged with implementing and overseeing gen-ed.

             

At October’s board meeting, President Hart told trustees that “we have asked for an extension [of the gen-ed implementation process] so we can spend one year teaching these pilot courses.”

             

Professor Terry Halbert, faculty director of the GEEC, approves of the board’s decision.

             

“The gen-ed program that’s taking shape is very innovative, with teams of faculty members working across disciplines, so extra time will allow us to experiment with new course models and learn from our mistakes.” said Halbert, a 25-year faculty member in the Fox School of Business and Management’s department of legal studies. “An extra year also gives us time for faculty development. This change is as much about how we teach as what we teach. We’ll be evaluating our pilots, sharing best practices and getting the chance to refine our instruction methods.”

Halbert says the new gen-ed program aims to prepare Temple students for “a complex, globalized world. Whether it’s stem cell research or the war in Iraq or environmental sustainability, the problems that face us are more and more complicated.

Terry Halbert
Professor Terry Halbert, faculty director of the General Education Executive Committee
(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / University Photography)

“At the same time, the amount of disconnected information out there is staggering. The new gen-ed program is about equipping our students to engage with all of that. We want them to be able to make connections — across disciplines, across contexts, from academic knowledge to experience — and see the relevance of what they are learning.” 

             

After reviewing dozens of course proposals, the GEEC approved 51 gen-ed courses in the program’s nine subject categories (Analytical Reading and Writing, Arts, Human Behavior, Intellectual Heritage, Quantitative Literacy, Race and Diversity, Science and Technology, Structures of Society – American, and Structures of Society – World). Next spring’s pilot gen-ed courses will be followed by dozens of other pilots offered in the 2007-08 academic year. Students who take them will receive credit in Temple’s current core curriculum.

             

One of the spring 2007 pilots is “Cyberspace and Society,” developed by a team of faculty members led by Elliot Koffman, a professor in the College of Science and Technology’s department of computer and information studies. Students who enroll in “Cyberspace and Society” will learn how digital technology works and explore some of the thorniest technological and social issues created by the worldwide adoption of digital technology: government and employee monitoring, intellectual property, identity theft, predatory behavior and more.

             

“I saw the gen-ed program as an opportunity for our department to reach out to the general student population,” said Koffman, a faculty member for 32 years. “I’ve really enjoyed the effort we’ve put into preparing this. A lot of people worked together to make it happen, some who are more into technical issues and some who are more into ethical issues.”

Koffman believes that an interdisciplinary team approach to course development will have a payoff. “I think students will benefit,” he said, “because they’ll experience a broader course than one they might take with a computer ethicist or a technologist.”

According to Halbert, students — who make up a quarter of the voting membership of the GEEC — have played a critical role in gen-ed course development. For example, she cites their role in helping the GEEC identify courses that encourage active learning instead of passive, rote memorization.

“I know that my colleagues in the GEEC are eager to hear from the students who enroll in next spring’s pilot courses as well,” Halbert said. “Their feedback will affect the educations of a generation of future Temple students.”

To support instructors participating in spring 2007 gen-ed pilot courses, Temple’s Teaching and Learning Center will run a series of workshops this fall: “Information Literacy” (how to build it into a gen-ed course, with library experts working with faculty teams to create assignments) and “Course Development” (with tips on syllabus analysis, evaluation strategies and more). Contact the TLC for more information on these and other future gen-ed workshops.

Hillel J. Hoffmann

Spring 2007  pilot gen-ed courses

Fourteen gen-ed pilot courses will be offered this spring. Students who enroll in these courses will earn credit for Temple’s current core curriculum.

Arts (for Arts core credit)

  • “World Musics and Cultures”

Quantitative Literacy (for Math B core credit)

  • “Investing for the Future”
  • “Math for a Digital World”
  • “Mathematical Patterns”
  • “Statistics and the News”

Science and Technology (for Science B core credit):

  • “Cyberspace and Society”
  • “The Environment”
  • “Evolution and Extinctions”
  • “Technology Transformations”
  •  “Universe As We Know It”

Structures of Society – American (for American Culture core credit)

  • “Dissent in America”
  • “Doing Justice”

Structures of Society – World (for International Studies, Western core credit):

  •  “Italy in Literature and Film”
  • “Russia in Literature and Film”

 

 

 


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