Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
QUEENS COLLEGE ADOPTS NEW UNDERGRADUATE LIBERAL ARTS
REQUIREMENTS TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR CHALLENGES OF 21St CENTURY
-- New General Education Curriculum Will Be More Cross-Disciplinary
and Promote Development of Critical Thinking Skills –
FLUSHING, N.Y., April 24, 2006 – Queens College has announced the adoption of an enhanced undergraduate curriculum that will replace its current requirements with new course requirements, “Perspectives on the Liberal Arts and Sciences” (PLAS), designed to equip students with the skills they will need to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.
“The goal of a college education should be to prepare students for meaningful, productive lives,” says Queens College President James Muyskens. “At the end of their undergraduate careers, our students should have gone beyond simply acquiring knowledge and analytical and communication skills. They should be ready to take their place as global citizens. I believe this is absolutely vital and that our new core requirements will help accomplish the goal.”
The new curricular requirements will go into effect for freshmen in fall 2009. However, the first of the new courses being developed will be offered this fall as part of a pilot program and then evaluated as to whether educational goals are being met.
The comprehensive curriculum will offer a broader range of inter-related, cross-disciplinary courses that will sharpen students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities and perspectives. It will also give students the tools to form connections between specialized study and general knowledge, to see the relationship between such seemingly disparate disciplines as biology and economics, and to understand the role they play in the larger context of a changing world. Moreover, these courses and skills will extend throughout the undergraduate career to make the entire college experience more cohesive and meaningful to students’ lives.
The revised general education courses will address such sweeping global technological changes as the Internet and their impact on the creation, organization and dissemination of knowledge and information. The new curriculum will also provide the college’s student population, which reflects Queens’ ethnic diversity, greater exposure to American, European and world cultures.
Under the new curriculum, all matriculating undergraduates will be required to complete PLAS courses in the following “Areas of Knowledge and Inquiry”: Reading Literature, two courses; Appreciating and Participating in the Arts, one course; Cultures and Values, one course; Analyzing Social Structures, two courses; and Natural Science, two courses. Three of the courses must emphasize one of the following “Contexts of Experience”: the United States, European Traditions, and World Cultures. Courses focused on Pre-Industrial Society and Abstract or Quantitative Reasoning must be taken under the PLAS Extended Requirements.
“We are pleased that the faculty and students worked together to develop and approve these new general education requirements,” says Queens College Provost Evangelos Gizis. “They add guidance and direction to our curriculum and will help our graduates meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected and diverse world.”
These changes represent the culmination of efforts initiated by President Muyskens three years ago to thoroughly review and update a curriculum that had not been revised in nearly three decades. His objective was to insure that the curriculum continued to be vital, relevant and responsive to the college’s mission and students’ needs. Several colleges, including others in the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as private institutions such as Yale and Harvard, have recently adopted major changes in their core curricula.
In the spring of 2003, Dr. Muyskens established a special Task Force on General Education composed of faculty from all four divisions and professorial ranks of the college to begin a review of the current undergraduate curriculum. The Task Force conducted a series of faculty and student forums to solicit opinions from across the college community. More than 60 faculty and academic staff members volunteered to participate in four Task Force working groups in spring 2004. The Task Force drew heavily on the efforts of these groups and the ideas generated by the forums to produce a final report and set of recommendations, which recently won the vote of the college’s Academic Senate.
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Founded in 1937, the college offers an exceptional liberal arts curriculum, with over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and a variety of specialized honors programs. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. In fact, it ranks #8 in the nation according to the 2006 edition of The Princeton Review America’s Best Value Colleges. Queens College’s nearly 17,000 students come from more than 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment.