The Core Curriculum Review Committee (CCRC) released its initial draft report of recommendations to the university community on December 3, 2015. The committee was appointed in 2014 to review the university’s current set of core requirements and to consult with faculty and students in proposing alterations.
The CCRC proposal requires six courses in the liberal arts, allowing students more flexibility as to how they can fulfill those requirements. The proposal retains the current requirement that students take two courses in theology, but allows for students to take either two philosophy courses or one philosophy course accompanied by a course in “Catholicism and the Disciplines.”
The committee, in offering its recommendations, called for “a renewed commitment to distinctively Catholic dimensions within the liberal arts, an enhanced commitment to a broad liberal arts education, and the introduction of curricular innovations that foster the integration of disciplines.”
The proposal also states that the university’s faculty hiring strategies “and investments to build faculty strength in intellectual areas consonant with the traditions of Catholicism … reflect a remarkable institutional commitment, one that should have more resonance in core curriculum requirements.”
While applauding the stated aims of the committee, the Rover judges that the result of its work is lacking with respect to both of these goals.
It is not clear that the proposed changes effect a renewed commitment to providing a distinctively Catholic liberal arts education and fostering integration in the studies of the university’s students. Much ink has been spilled in debating the future of the theology and philosophy requirements, and this has provided the occasion for reflecting on the central role of theology and philosophy at a Catholic university. But it seems that the conversation that needs to take place at Notre Dame—and that had perfect occasion to take place in the context of a core curriculum review—has not, in fact, taken place. The committee has filled its proposal with talk of “learning goals” and “ways of knowing,” but the focus on the particularities of the debate over particular course requirements has detracted from a conversation about the value and purpose of a Notre Dame education broadly considered.
Additionally, it is not clear, as the committee claims, that the university demonstrates a “remarkable institutional commitment” to mission hiring. The percentage of faculty at the university who identify as Catholic has declined from 67 percent in 1986 to 53 percent in 2007. In the College of Arts and Letters, the percentage of Catholic faculty has fallen from 72 to 54 percent in the same time period. A university with a remarkable institutional commitment to fostering faculty strength in areas consonant with the traditions of Catholicism should seek to increase the number and quality of committed Catholics on the faculty rather than decrease it.
In hopes of providing a venue for the kind of conversation that should be taking place amongst faculty and students during this curriculum review, the Rover offers in this issue a collection of reflections by faculty on the CCRC proposal and need for a renewed understanding of the distinctive education that Notre Dame can—and should—provide for all of its students.
We offer this faculty forum on the curriculum in anticipation of the upcoming university-wide open forum to discuss the CCRC proposal, to which all interested faculty and students are invited. The forum will take place in the McKenna Hall Auditorium on Monday, February 15, at 3:30.
[avatar user=”Fr. Bill Miscamble C.S.C.” size=”thumbnail” align=”center” link=”https://irishrover.net/2016/02/settling-for-less-the-core-curriculum-and-a-genuine-catholic-education/” target=”_blank”]Settling For Less: The “Core” Curriculum and a Genuine Catholic Education[/avatar]
[avatar user=”Patrick Deneen” size=”thumbnail” align=”center” link=”https://irishrover.net/2016/02/dreaming-too-small/” target=”_blank”]Dreaming Too Small[/avatar]
[avatar user=”Henry Weinfield” size=”thumbnail” align=”center” link=”https://irishrover.net/2016/02/a-misguided-effort/” target=”_blank”]A Misguided Effort[/avatar]
[avatar user=”Martijn Cremers” size=”thumbnail” align=”center link=”https://irishrover.net/2016/02/an-immodest-proposal/” target=”_blank”]An Immodest Proposal[/avatar]
[avatar user=”Joseph Kaboski” size=”thumbnail” align=”center” link=”https://irishrover.net/2016/02/what-makes-notre-dame-special/” target=”_blank”]What Makes Notre Dame Special?[/avatar]