After more than a year of work by representatives of Bethel’s faculty and administration, the faculty on Oct. 24 voted its initial approval to a revision of the college’s General Education (GE) requirements.
The most significant changes have to do with the addition of two core courses, which does not, however, increase the number of required GE hours.
Core courses will still include College Issues Colloquy in the first freshman semester, Convocation for eight semesters, and Basic Issues of Faith and Life in the senior year. Added to these are a Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies (PJC) course and a Collaborative Inquiry Seminar.
“Once this curriculum is implemented, every Bethel graduate will have a significant Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies component to his or her education,” said assistant professor of history Penelope Adams Moon, a member of the GE Review Committee. “This continues a long-standing institutional interest in this discipline.”
To meet the PJC requirement, students will choose from approved courses that can be found across the major programs. Approved courses must do at least two of the following: explore faith traditions, theological foundations or value orientations that support a PJC perspective; analyze social or natural systems from a PJC perspective; focus on practical skills for peacemaking, communication and/or conflict mediation; study an issue or problem of PJC from a particular discipline’s perspective.
The Collaborative Inquiry Seminar “builds on Bethel’s institutional emphasis on undergraduate research,” said interim academic dean Brad Born. Approved courses will emphasize inquiry-based, collaborative learning in order to develop students’ ability to gather, interpret and evaluate information from a variety of sources, formulate and apply a research methodology, and communicate findings effectively and professionally. As the title indicates, having students work in “an inquiry-based learning community” to complete course requirements will be an important component.
Once the GE revisions have received their final approval, they are scheduled to take effect with the incoming freshmen and transfer students of fall 2008.