Boston College administrators have started the long process of re-evaluating of the Core. A November 1 post on the Boston College Office of News and Public Affairs web page provides insight into the project. The Core Renewal co-chairs include Liberal Arts Director Mary Crane, Dean of CAS David Quigley, and Dean of CSOM Andy Boynton.
To start, BC has hired an outside consulting firm, Continuum, which Quigley hopes will help establish “a core that is truly meaningful to our students and faculty, and that aligns with our University’s distinctive mission.” The process will be five stages long encompassing two interview stages, analysis, pilot planning, and finally implementation. The final stage, implementation, is set to kick off the 2013-2014 academic year.
The Core Curriculum at Boston College has long been a topic of discussion for both prospective students and students around campus. Before coming to BC, students question whether they want to attend a school with a sizeable list of Core requirements and if they choose to come here, there are few who don’t complain about the Core at some point during their four years. Regardless of some negative student sentiment, it is a central aspect of the liberal arts degree that comes with a Boston College education. Still, administrators seem to recognize that it might be time to take another look.
The last evaluation of the Core curriculum took place in 1991, when the “Task Force on Core Curriculum” gave its most recent “final report”. According to the Boston College Core Curriculum page on the University website, for the past 21 years, the University has valued the Core as a way to ensure “students…understand the major ideas and methods of inquiry of the disciplines that comprise their intellectual heritage and…begin to grasp the breadth and diversity of human knowledge.”
The Core’s purpose is to introduce students to topics including the origin and destiny of existence, nature, human nature, society, and history. These topics translate into the Core requirements that students must complete before graduation, including courses in the Arts, Mathematics, and Theology.
In evaluating the core as it applies to the modern student, the Core renewal team and Continuum has consulted students such as Siobhan Kelly and Nick Reposa, UGBC Co-Coordinators of Academic Affairs. Kelly, A&S, 2015, has been able to keep us updated on their involvement with the project. Specifically, they have been asked to gather as much input as possible from a wide range of student perspectives.
"Thus far we have found that students want more classes to count towards the Core and want their classes abroad to count, especially towards the fine arts and cultural diversity requirements” Kelly stated.
And while there are some students that would like to see the core classes decreased in general, many accept that it is a part of Boston College academics and are looking for ways to remodel it instead. For example, Kelly stated that they have heard a wide variety of suggestions, some not limited to a transformation of the cultural diversity core into a general diversity core "which could encompass classes on women's issues, GLBTQ issues, differences in SES, etc."
Clearly, students and administrators alike are in agreement that 20 years of an unchanging Core curriculum warrants a review and at the moment both groups seem open to the possibility of transforming and modernizing the Core for future Boston College students.