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Working group proposes changes to undergraduate education requirements

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Gazi Fuad / Thresher

By Bonnie Zhao     9/21/21 11:03pm

Two recommendations, including introducing themes into distribution courses and removing prerequisites from distribution offerings, have been proposed to alter the undergraduate curriculum requirements by the General Education Faculty Working Group, according to Douglas Schuler, associate professor of business and public policy. Schuler presented these working group recommendations at the Sept. 20 Student Association Senate, after presenting them at the Sept. 1 Faculty Senate meeting.

Of the six total recommendations included in the proposition on undergraduate general education, these two were discussed in depth during the Sept. 20 SA Senate meeting.

Schuler said the goal is to introduce and interlace themes into distribution offerings, requiring students to take a course in each theme. According to Schuler, the current number of themes is undecided, but the expected number is four.



Schuler said that the themes should reflect issues, values and competencies that are appropriate for students to be exposed to. Though relatively stable, the themes would be reviewed and updated about every five years, according to Schuler.

The second recommendation is to eliminate classes that have prerequisites from distribution courses. Schuler said that about one third of classes in distribution two and distribution three have prerequisites, which violates Rice’s General Announcements’ claim that distribution courses should be accessible to non-majors and not presume student’s special expertise.

In the SA Senate meeting, student leaders expressed some concerns over the proposed changes, including concern about whether the changes would restrict students’ freedom in choosing courses.

Schuler said that SA senators will be sending out feedback forms to their respective colleges on this topic soon. The working group’s full report can be found on their website.



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