Franciscan adopts new liberal arts core curriculum

By Emily Lahr

The Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville, announced the final faculty approval of a new liberal arts core curriculum that will begin the 2013-14 academic year.

“The new core takes a more rigorous approach that ensures a common grounding for all students not only in theology and philosophy as called for in Ex corde Ecclesiae, but also in literature, American founding principles, history, fine arts, natural science and social science,” said Daniel Kempton, the vice president for Academic Affairs, in the Franciscan press release.

This project began in April of 2010 when Kempton first discussed with a number of Franciscan faculty members and administrators his desire to elect representatives for a new core committee.

He explained that while theology and philosophy rank high among Franciscan’s top 10 major programs, the University realized that students missed some foundational courses in the distributive nature of the previous core.

The new core exposes Franciscan students to more of the fundamental knowledge and critical authors they need to become well-educated Catholics.

Kempton also said that Catholic values come under attack more today than they did 20 years ago and students need to be equipped for the change.

“As both the culture and other universities change, Franciscan University is itself always seeking to better prepare its students for the challenges they will face,” said Kempton.

The 45-credit core for Bachelor of Arts majors and 42-credit core for Bachelor of Science majors requires all students to take foundations of Catholicism, Christian moral principles, scripture and tradition, foundations of ethics, philosophy of the human person, metaphysics, epic and self and lyric and dramatic voices.

Students may also choose from specified courses in other disciplines such as history of civilization, Catholic traditions in visual arts, general botany, psychology and human development, American political tradition, and American national government.

According to the Franciscan press release, the vast majority of the core will be taught using existing courses. New courses have also been created specifically to meet the new requirements including the three fine arts courses, survey of sacred and religious music, survey of Catholic traditions in drama, and survey of Catholic traditions in visual arts.

Many of the new core classes will be offered beginning in fall 2013 when Franciscan University starts implementing the new core. A transitional period will give current students the flexibility they need to complete their coursework on schedule.

Kempton said for the 2012 freshmen class there should be little impact from the new core. For most of them, it will have no impact.  He said some students may find there are a few upper level classes that might be offered less than in the past as faculty shift their focus to teaching the additional sections of courses included in the core.

“I would encourage students to take any specific upper level classes that they want to take, when they are offered, and not wait until the final semester with the assumption that every course will be offered every semester,” said Kempton.

He also said that the registrar and faculty advisors have been encouraged to be extremely flexible when awarding core credit equivalency to transfer students.

“We hope that any negative effect on transfer students will be minimal,” said Kempton.

Existing faculty will teach most core courses, but Henry said the university will hire five new faculty members to implement the core. The university has already hired one new professor with two additional hires planned this year and two more in the 2013-14 academic year.

The core curriculum committee responsible for drafting the core were instructors and professors: John Crosby from the philosophy department; Daniel Kempton, vice president for Academic Affairs, ex officio member; Daniel Kuebler, biology department; Donald Materniak, business department; Carolyn Miller, nursing department; the Rev. Daniel Pattee, TOR, theology department; Jonathan Sanford, philosophy department; Michael Sirilla, theology department; Shawn Dougherty, fine arts department; Thomas Wilson; associate vice president for Academic Affairs; and John Magee, Academic Affairs.

Students can view the core curriculum for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees by visiting http://www.franciscan.edu/corecurriculum.

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