Students share mixed opinions about changes

University President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., announced the university’s adoption of new core curriculum requirements in an email to students and faculty on November 10. After over two years of curriculum review by the Decennial Core Curriculum Review Committee, Notre Dame’s Academic Council unanimously approved the new core curriculum.

These changes will take effect with members of the Class of 2022, who begin their freshman year in 2018. The changes impact almost all areas of the core curriculum and alter how the university treats Advanced Placement examination credit.

The Rover spoke with Notre Dame students about their reactions to the new curriculum. Respondents included freshmen Chris Enabnit, Sarah Harper, Anna Scartz, Andrew Kim, and Anthony Stoner and seniors Frankie Wamsley and Louis Bertolotti.

Changes in Theology and Philosophy Requirements

Under the new core curriculum, students will still be required to take two courses in theology. Students will be able to choose among several foundations-level courses focusing on different fundamental aspects of Catholicism. Additionally, students with a significant background in theology will be able to place out of the foundations-level course and take a higher-level course instead. The philosophy requirement has been changed to one introductory level philosophy course and one advanced philosophy course or a “Catholicism in the Disciplines” course.

Enabnit: It is interesting that they want to implement placement exams in theology, like one might have done in foreign language or math before. It may be harder to design a workable system for the theology department, where the curriculum isn’t quite as linear.

Bertolotti: Thankfully, the two-class requirement of both theology and philosophy were kept, but the discussion of their removal should not have been on the table in the first place.

Addition of Integration Courses

The updated core curriculum also requires an Integration course, a course in a way of knowing such as history, art or literature. Integration courses will be team-taught by two professors and focused on “the pursuit of knowledge that integrates and synthesizes the perspective of two or more disciplines to address a particular issue that is too complex to be adequately addressed by a single field of study.”

Harper: I think integration courses are a good idea. I often find myself thinking about how my biology class, Evolution in Society, connects to other classes I am taking this semester, so having a class where I would be able to explore the connections would be very interesting and help me understand both topics on a deeper level. I think the integration of ideas is important because it helps people understand topics other than their own field of study and can help people come up with new and better ideas.

Flexibility and AP Courses

Under the new core curriculum, Notre Dame will no longer allow students to use Advanced Placement (AP) credit to fulfill core curriculum requirements. Currently, many students use AP credit in order to add flexibility to their academic program at Notre Dame.

Wamsley: The Core Curriculum changes, in my opinion, merely pinch the workload that incoming students will face at Notre Dame. By no longer accepting AP credit, the review committee has all but eliminated the proposed impact of these changes on flexibility for students in completing coursework.

Scartz: For the most part, the changes seem to be moving in a positive direction and are a good way to provide students with a general knowledge base. Not allowing students to fulfill the requirements with AP credits would even the field somewhat as far as the different opportunities of classes that people can take. One risk with not taking AP credit is that high school students will feel that AP credit examinations were a waste of their money.

Moreau Requirement

Freshman students will continue to take the Moreau First Year Experience course, which was implemented in the fall of 2015. In its first semester, the course received a mixture of reactions, many of them negative due to workload and vagueness in curriculum, and it has since gone through various modifications.

Stoner: I think they should get rid of Moreau, but other than that, the changes are a step in the right direction.

Kim: Like democracy, Moreau may not be perfect; however, it is the best possible way to communicate lessons that we want all Notre Dame students to know.

Bertolotti: The core curriculum did not review the Moreau FYE Seminar, but it is my hope that the class will be eliminated after its own review is concluded.

Kevin Angell is a freshman intending to major in economics and political science and living in Duncan Hall. He is also a proud member of the Knights of Columbus and is grateful for the very comfortable couches in the Knights’ building. With questions, comments and reactions, contact Kevin at kangell@nd.edu.