Colgate Liberal Arts Core Curriculum Revision
Colgate University’s Core Curriculum emerged out of the “Colgate Plan” of the 1930s and the “Core Curriculum,” inaugurated in 1946. In the decades since the first real “Core,” Colgate’s faculty have continuously assessed and revised the Core, with major assessments and revisions occurring roughly every decade. The most recent revisions have been implemented in 1983, 1996, and 2010. In 2017-18, the Core University Professors began a consultation and planning process that led to the Core Self-Study in 2018-19. In the spring of 2019, in consultation with the Dean of Faculty, the Dean’s Advisory Council, and the Faculty Affairs Committee, faculty-wide elections were held. Four faculty members were elected, one from each academic division, to join the five appointed University Professors (UPs) and the Director of the Division of University Studies to form the Core Revision Committee (CRC).
This faculty-driven process of reviewing the Core Curriculum involves the following phases:
Consultation with Dean of Faculty Tracey Hucks, President Brian Casey, and other faculty leaders led the way to Core Self-Study. A crucial element in preparation for the Core Self-Study was the deep focus on the Core as part of the Middle States self-study process and external evaluation team visit and report of April, 2018. The 2017-18 academic year also included meetings with students (some convened by student groups), consultation with former Core leaders, gathering and study of historical Core Revision documents, Core-related questions added to the faculty COACHE survey, and faculty-wide conversations at the annual White Eagle Core Liberal Arts retreat, where the faculty produced the “Wall of Post-It Notes” – a compendium of ideas and goals for the Core Revision.
2018-19 was the official Core Curriculum “Self-Study” year. A Faculty Survey on the Core was conducted in fall, 2018; 240 faculty of all ranks, nearly 2/3 of the faculty, responded to the survey and produced dozens of pages of comments, which were synthesized and summarized by the Core UPs. President Casey made funds from a Mellon Foundation New Presidents’ Discretionary Grant available to support the Core Revision with curricular collaboration and experimentation. Six interdisciplinary Mellon Groups worked across the academic year on developing ideas for the Core Revision which were presented at the White Eagle 2019 faculty retreat. Karen Harpp taught UNST 350 in the fall of 2018, with the twenty enrolled students using Design Thinking methodologies to study Colgate’s Core and the Core curricula at other universities, several of which they visited. The UNST 350 students interviewed dozens of faculty, students, and alumni as part of their research. The University Professors held four Core Fora in spring of 2019, which were attended by a total of eighty Colgate faculty. One of these was open only to pre-tenure faculty. The UPs also conducted many “Cross-Core” seminars through the year, in order to bring component faculty together around common texts. The Division Director met with all Division chairs, and carried out many individual consultations with faculty members, students, and campus leaders. The UPs also held consultations with students and student leaders, and met with the student Senate, which also organized a forum open to all students.
In the Core Revision year, the University Professors will conduct further consultation with the faculty, invite faculty input into modeling new Core structures, consult with governance committees and key stakeholders, and present draft ideas for a revised Core throughout the year, with the hopes of voting on new Core “legislation” in a Faculty Meeting in early spring, 2020.