Faculty at UNC Wilmington have been examining approaches to enhance the basic studies curriculum since January 2004 when the Chancellor enjoined the Faculty Senate Steering Committee to appoint the “Basic Studies Revision Task Force” that was chaired by Dr. Tim Ballard, Associate Professor of Biology and Marine Biology. Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo charged the Task Force with the major undertaking of creating a curriculum for UNCW students that would reflect its judgment about what students need to know to move into and succeed in the 21st century.
The Task Force Report was delivered to the Faculty Senate in spring 2006. It presented a template for a new basic studies proposal that addressed the issues identified in the UNC Tomorrow Commission Final Report, including the need to add writing-emphasis courses along with diversity-related courses, and global issues courses. The Task Force report included recommendations and the rationale for key elements of a new Basic Studies Curriculum noting that “The Core Curriculum is that medium in which students gain the skills, knowledge and values necessary for participating fully in a global society.”
In November 2006, following discussion and modifications of the Task Force report by the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate Steering Committee created the Basic Studies Committee whose end goal was to propose a “new basic studies curriculum,” and to do so in the “general interest of the university” and not the interest of any particular university unit. The Senate Steering Committee worked to keep deans, department chairs, and faculty informed of the parameters given to the Basic Studies Committee as its members communicated with the various academic groups on campus. The Senate Steering Committee also noted that the amount of work to revise the basic studies curriculum was “greatly underestimated” when the Basic Studies Task Force was created, and offered suggestions for taking advantage of other expertise available on the campus.
The new curriculum proposed by the Basic Studies Committee includes a name change to “University Studies.” Its recommendations are presented as a comprehensive approach for the totality of the undergraduate experience. The very thoughtful, comprehensive proposal submitted by the Basic Studies Committee in January 2009 includes suggestions for implementation, addresses the need for updated approaches to engaging students in a purposeful learning experience, and outlines on page 5 the “Key Elements of Change in University Studies” to be:
The new University Studies requirements reflect UNCW’s long-standing recognition that today’s collaborative and global environment requires preparing students to be global citizens with an understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of environmental, socio-cultural and geopolitical issues; who are able to communicate effectively within and among diverse cultural groups; and who know about and respect cultural differences as well as embrace common humanity. These issues are all part of the ongoing, national dialogue in higher education concerning global citizenship and one of the seven strategic goals at UNCW intended to make sure graduates are ready for the future.
The template for the new curriculum described in the Basic Studies Committee Report was discussed at the March meeting of the Faculty Senate and approved with few revisions. Beginning in the fall, a series of faculty forums will be held to explore the new curricular template and to encourage innovative course design. The next phase of implementation, which also begins this fall, will involve a call for proposals for the courses that will populate the new curriculum. The new University Studies program, designed to enhance student learning both in and outside the classroom, is expected to be in place for new students entering UNCW in the fall of 2011.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kim Sawrey
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and
Chair, Basic Studies Committee
Dr. Denise DiPuccio
Assistant Provost, International Programs