The Curriculum Review Committee released a full report of their investigation into the effectiveness of the Rochester Curriculum last Friday. The committee, organized one-and-a-half years ago, recommends a total of 33 changes to the College’s hallmark program.

The report contains recommendations to the University for changes under the categories of General Education, Writing and Communication, Experiential Learning, Global Engagement, and Career Preparation. Most of these changes are minor, and the committee emphasizes its support and satisfaction overall with the current state of the Curriculum.

The Committee was established by Deans Peter Lennie and Richard Feldman; its members are comprised of faculty, staff, and students. The objective of the Committee was to complete a full review of the Curriculum. This was the first review since the Curriculum was first approved in 1995 and went into effect with the graduating class of 2000.

Among the 33 recommendations are adjustments to the cluster system. The report recommends that the University recognize bonus clusters completed by students outside of the required two (one for engineers). This would be particularly affect engineering majors who choose to complete an additional cluster in the humanities or social sciences, or for students of any discipline who complete a cluster in an area that would be appealing to a potential employer or graduate institution, such as a foreign language or web design. The report also recommends that all introductory courses count toward some cluster, so that students, particularly freshmen, may take any class that interests them within a department and not worry about completing additional credits for a cluster within the same field.

The committee noted the success and usefulness of the Writing, Speaking, & Argument Program’s collaboration with departments within the Hajim School of Engineering and the School of Arts and Sciences to develop upper-level writing classes for specific departments. The committee recommended the expansion of these collaborations into other majors and departments, if the departments see it as a program that would be beneficial to their students.

The report encouraged more support and publicity for undergraduate research opportunities in order to make this experience more accessible for students in all disciplines. It also recommended standardizing the numbering of Independent Study and Independent Research courses across departments—or, at least, better explanations of the registration process for these different courses to students.

Currently, about one-third of UR undergraduates choose to study abroad. The report recommends that UR try to increase this number, as many college graduates nationwide cite study abroad as their most important college experience. Specific recommendations to achieve this goal include creating a list of approved courses by department to take at foreign institutions so that students may better plan how to fit an abroad experience into their education, encouraging students to study the local language to better prepare students for involvement abroad, and making students more aware of various study abroad options they may not have considered, such as going during the sophomore year.

With regard to career preparation, the report acknowledges several initiatives that are currently available or being considered, including the fifth-year Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year Program (KEY), a possible Career and Internship Center course, and upper level writing courses that focus on professional identity. The report states that it would be beneficial to establish one central committee to oversee all of these programs and initiatives, because they are coming out of various offices and departments.

The full report can be viewed online, and all undergraduate students were recently sent an email by Deans Lennie and Feldman explaining the report’s purpose and major findings. Throughout, the report emphasizes the committee’s strong approval of the Rochester Curriculum and how it benefits students. Undergraduates who complete additional coursework within one discipline (through a minor, additional major, or dual degree) has steadily increased since the Class of 2000.


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