Dear Colleagues,

       The BRIDGE Committee has received a number of inquiries asking us to explain why we are encouraging the community to undertake a revision of General Education at this time. This is an important question.

       Actually, the review of general education has been underway for some time at SIUE. After discussions in Fall 2002, the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost established, on 13 January 2003, the Objectives Steering Committee. Included in the committee’s charge was the following question: “Is there a need to rethink our curriculum in light of our current or any new goals and objectives, either in terms of the structure of the curriculum or the manner in which we engage students in that curriculum?”

       That review was completed by December 2003. In the review, the committee recommended to the Faculty Senate that the Statement of Objectives for General Education and the Baccalaureate Degree be reaffirmed as sound, with minor changes including the title. The “Summary of the Report of the Objectives Steering Committee” and the revised “Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree” are available online at http://www.siue.edu/UGOV/FACULTY/BRIDGE.htm.

       In the process of the review of the objectives for the Baccalaureate degree, the Objectives Steering Committee uncovered interest and concern in the state of the General Education Program. In particular, the Objectives Steering Committee found that the SIUE community was concerned for two broad reasons:

       1.) drift of the general education program over time from its original intention leading to unnecessary complexity and incoherence;
       2.) lack of faculty ‘ownership,’ resulting from the rapid generational shift that has occurred among the faculty in the last decade.

       In addition, the Objectives Steering Committee noted that members of the institution were concerned about general education because our existing program was designed in the early-1980’s, and subsequently modified in the early- and late-1990’s. The Committee noted that the world has changed radically around us in the last twenty five years. Community members expressed proper concern regarding the efficacy of our general education program in preparing our graduates for the world of the early-Twenty First Century. Four areas of concern were noted:

       1.) Information: were we preparing our students to navigate a world deluged in information (much of it visual and aural)?;
       2.) Integration: were we preparing our students to recognize, understand and make linkages between diverse fields of knowledge and endeavor in an evermore interconnected world?;
       3.) Application: were we preparing are students adequately to act in that world in a humane way?;
       4.) Communication: were we preparing our students to communicate effectively in a variety of ways in this information dense, integrated world?

       In response to these concerns, the Objectives Steering Committee recommended “that the Faculty Senate address the question, ‘How well are the design and execution of the current General Education program meeting the Statement of Objectives for the Baccalaureate Degree’” (p.3). This recommendation was accepted by the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost.

       The BRIDGE Committee was formed in Spring 2005 by the Faculty Senate in consultation with the Office of the Provost and charged “to involve the faculty widely in modifying or redesigning the General Education Program.” It operates within the mandate of the Faculty Senate to oversee the revision of General Education in light of the findings and recommendations of the Objectives Steering Committee.

Cheers!

Eric Ruckh
Chair, BRIDGE

 

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