General Education Task Force presents preliminary findings on changes to CSU GE requirements at Academic Senate

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The General Education Task Force recommended adjustments to Cal State Fullerton’s GE coursework at Thursday’s Academic Senate meeting.

Since November 2017, the task force has met weekly to evaluate changes coming as a result of revisions made to CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White’s Executive Order 1100, detailing GE requirements.

“Part of what we’re talking about is revisiting some of the structure of GE, because one of the missions of the university is to prepare students to be engaged members in a global society,” said Merri Lynn Casem, GE Task Force chair and biological science professor at CSUF.

White issued the revisions to the executive order in August 2017 to clarify GE requirements across all 23 CSU campuses, decreasing the total number of units required to graduate and allowing some courses to double count for major requirements.

Casem said the Academic Senate’s General Education Committee has been doing the “nuts and bolts” work of revising University Policy Statements to comply with the executive order.

Most of the changes were finished with policy revisions made during the Feb. 8 Academic Senate meeting, and students enrolling at CSUF in fall 2018 will be the first to complete coursework under the new guidelines.

The task force was created by the Academic Senate to evaluate changes that would come as a result of the chancellor’s executive order.

The task force identifies three major challenges facing CSUF’s GE coursework: maintaining individual emphases despite system wide requirements, efficiently carrying out the changes put in place by the executive order and addressing current funding models.

Casem said timely graduation drives the change in GE requirements.

By creating a more unified set of requirements across the CSU system, Casem said the task force’s goal becomes more feasible because students can transfer between schools without finding themselves at a disadvantage.

However, creating unified requirements presents its own problems that the task force looked to address in its report.

“If that homogeneity destroys (course) content, then as faculty members, the standard bearers of content, we get upset. Some of these changes are going to have big impacts, but we’re going to try and make sure that students don’t feel that,” Casem said.

In regards to funding, Casem said one of the problems facing academia is the way colleges compete for advantages due to the limited available funding.

“That (lack of funding) leads to this isolation where we’re always fighting against each other. That shouldn’t happen, but there’s a reality to it. We acknowledge the reality, but on the other hand we’re better than that,” Casem said.

Even though the GE Task Force will only be around for a year, Casem said members hope to keep it running to help realize their recommendations.

“This has been a phenomenal group of people that have been super dedicated to coming in every week,” she said.

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