Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The University recently announced that the Boston College academic core curriculum will undergo review by both an external consulting company, Continuum, and a committee of faculty and students over the coming semesters to assess its relevance and its effectiveness in establishing a broad base of academic experience.
The core, which was last changed in 1991, currently stands at 15 classes: one in the arts, one in cultural diversity, two in history, one in literature, one in mathematics, two in natural science, two in philosophy, two in social science, two in theology, and one in writing. In addition, each BC student must demonstrate proficiency at the intermediate level in a foreign language.
The Heights supports the goals of the core curriculum, and believes that it is a unique aspect of a BC education that sets the University’s academics apart from other schools. At many universities, it is possible for students to go through their four years and only take classes with direct relation to their major. It is clear that as a result of the core, students leave BC with a much broader knowledge base than these other universities require. Students who leave BC have, at the very least, a passable level of background knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines ranging from science to philosophy and theology. Regardless of major, students will be able to speak intelligently about these topics upon leaving BC, a feat that graduates of many universities do not achieve.
Although many students dread taking core classes, nearly as many end up finding a unique academic interest that they didn’t know existed. Students taking core classes early in their career at BC often find interests that lead to a new major or minor, or help solidify one’s earlier decisions about majors. Furthermore, the core unites the student body, giving every student that graduates from BC a common academic experience. Despite all these benefits, it is reasonable that the core is undergoing review, as it has not been changed in over two decades.
The Heights suggests that the University focus extensively on reviewing the cultural diversity aspect of the core. Currently, the cultural diversity requirement is often fulfilled with classes that have little relevance to the daily life of a BC student. While these classes may be interesting and informative, they have little application to interactions between students of different backgrounds. These interactions, however, are an aspect of campus life that many students, especially those who come from significantly less or significantly more diverse backgrounds than BC offers, struggle with regularly.
In light of this, The Heights suggests that the core class in cultural diversity be reformed to be a small, discussion based class held during the freshman year. In this class, students could read and discuss various texts related to cultural diversity, including books on race relations, racism, cultural history, and cultural identity. The result would be a student body that is far more educated on issues of diversity and race, fostering a more accepting, less prejudicial community.