Faculty approves General Education revision

The SUNY New Paltz faculty voted by a margin of 217-14 to pass a revision of the College’s General Education curriculum (GE IV) at the May 4 Faculty Meeting.

The new GE model was designed by the faculty to continue providing students with a broad foundation for academic and professional development and for personal exploration. It encourages students to take chances in new and unfamiliar fields, within a flexible framework that tracks and rewards progressive, deep learning.

The approval of the new General Education program is the outcome of a comprehensive fall 2015 GE Board effort to develop a proposal that suits the character and educational priorities of the College. This task was furthered during the spring 2016 semester by the Curriculum Committee, which solicited and analyzed feedback from members of the faculty about the details of the proposal and about their broader impressions of the value and purpose of GE at New Paltz.

“The design and approval of GE IV has truly been a collective effort,” said Reynolds Scott-Childress, Curriculum Committee chair and assistant professor of history. “Throughout this process the faculty have provided thoughtful input and guidance through voluntary participation in surveys, focus groups and informal communications. Two essential messages stand out: first, the SUNY New Paltz faculty overwhelmingly favor a robust version of General Education; and second, there is a widespread desire to revise and vivify the presentation, practice and assessment of GE.”

Revisions to the College’s General Education model include:

  • GE IV will require students to earn 32-37 total credits taking at least one course in each of ten disciplinary categories: Mathematics, Composition, the Arts, Foreign Language, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, United States Studies, Western Civilization and World Civilizations & Cultures. These categories are carried over from the previous GE III, though credit requirements have been reduced from the previous range of 33-42.
  • Part of the difference in credits required owes to a change in the Natural Sciences requirement – within the new structure students may satisfy this by taking two three-credit courses or one four-credit course with a laboratory component.
  • Composition courses will shift from three to four credits. Options for testing out of one of the two required courses in both Composition and Foreign Language have been preserved.
  • Three courses that are graduation requirements for all students had been approved at previous faculty meetings and are not affected by the approval of GE IV. These include a course that encompasses the theme of diversity, a writing intensive course and a capstone experience in a student’s major.
  • GE IV adopts the two competencies required by the SUNY Board of Trustees: critical thinking and information management. The faculty voted to embed these competencies in departments’ curricular maps, making it easier for departments to help students qualify to graduate, and giving faculty more flexibility in tailoring curricula to unique disciplinary circumstances. The new system calls on faculty to develop a set of progressively ordered courses that enable students to rise from a basic knowledge of critical thinking and information management skills, through intermediate stages to a level of mastery in their senior year.