Stearns, McKenzie Discuss General Education Program

Posted: October 20, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

Peter Stearns, provost, and Marilyn McKenzie, associate provost for educational programs, gave a brief overview of the General Education Program yesterday and solicited suggestions for modifying or improving the curriculum. Approximately 50 faculty and staff members attended the first General Education Assembly.

“I honestly believe that one of the most important things we do at the university is teaching general education,” said Stearns in his opening remarks. “The program introduces freshmen to university-level course loads and prepares them for their stay at George Mason.”

Stearns emphasized that the university does not have enough full-time faculty members teaching in the General Education Program, partly because of budget and partly because of cultural issues. He encouraged faculty members to recruit their peers to teach in the program and said George Mason will work to better publicize the program at the department level. Stearns also cautioned current faculty members in the program not to be narrow-minded when they teach the introductory-level courses, but to expand the classes to include the big picture and teach students general principles they can use for the remainder of their college careers.

The rest of the discussion largely focused on the synthesis requirements of the program. Faculty raised concerns about whether the synthesis courses should remain in the major or expand to cross disciplines. Stearns explained there are already several cross-discipline courses to satisfy the needs of students who want classes outside of their major. He said the General Education Committee would look into adding more nonmajor-specific courses, but the focus should still remain within the major.

Other issues raised included having full-time faculty members teach the classes, taking them away from higher-level courses; and capping the number of students in writing-intensive classes.

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