The current All-University Core Curriculum was developed in
order to ensure that CSU students would receive a well-rounded
education and graduate with a basic understanding of a variety of
subjects, said Kenneth Blehm, former University Curriculum
Blehm, currently the associate dean for the College of
Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the committee
“felt that there needs to be a common set of skills and common
categories of awareness that all college-educated people need to
These skills and categories are what now make up the AUCC
requirements. These requirements consist of a minimum of 40 credits
in categories like written communication, mathematics, biological
and physical sciences and history, among others.
“Regardless of whether you’re a technology geek or an arts and
humanities person, you should have some experience in all aspects
of society,” Blehm said.
Becky Thomas, an adviser with the Center for Advising and
Student Achievement, said she believes the core courses are
valuable, even though students are often frustrated by the
“The frustration with the core, I think, is that it resembles
the stuff (students) had in high school,” Thomas said. “But it goes
so much deeper than that.”
Thomas also said students tend to do better in their core
courses if they treat those classes as if they are just as
important as their major’s requirements.
Science and math requirements tend to be the most frustrating
for students because many haven’t taken those courses in a long
time, Thomas said. However, she thinks they are important because,
“Any field you go into you’re going to be interacting with the
Thomas said she values the AUCC requirements because they allow
open-option students the chance to explore different fields, as
well as provide a basis for a student’s future career changes.
“Today the average is that (a student) would have four to five
different careers in a lifetime,” Thomas said. “I’m not saying they
change jobs – they change the field. The core helps you to be able
to move with a changing economy and a changing technology.”
Other state universities have similar general education
requirements. For example, the University of Northern Colorado has
a general education program very similar to CSU’s AUCC.
UNC requires a minimum of 40 credits from categories such as
arts and letters, science and mathematics, physical activity,
social sciences and more. UNC students can select from a list of
courses to satisfy those requirements.
“The theory is … there’s a set of general competencies and
skills regardless of what (a student) is doing, that they need to
achieve, and they also need exposure to different ways of thinking
about problems … as they apply to the world,” said Phil Klein,
chairman of UNC’s General Education Council.
“A lot of students sometimes don’t realize that the course
they’re taking is something to draw on in the future. That’s a hard
sell for someone who’s 20 and wants to graduate.”
The University of Colorado-Boulder has a 43-credit general
education requirement for the College of Arts and Sciences. The
other colleges have similar requirements.
CU also has different categories that students are required to
fulfill. In addition to basic composition, math, science and
history, CU requires cultural and gender diversity, contemporary
societies and an upper-level foreign language.
“What we wanted to do is have a requirement that really
emphasized development,” said Richard Nishikawa, assistant dean for
Curricular Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences at CU.
“We call it a core curriculum, but … we don’t identify a
cannon that all students must be exposed to,” Nishikawa said. “It’s
really a template for our general education requirements.”
Nishikawa said different colleges vary the core requirements to
better suit their own needs. The Leeds School of Business requires
its students to take a course in economics for the contemporary
societies category, while the engineering department “has a
different set (of requirements) that are consistent with their own
accreditation needs,” he said.
One obvious difference between CSU and CU is the foreign
language category. CU requires that all incoming students have
completed three years of a language in high school and that they
complete an upper-division language course while in college. CSU
Blehm said this is because the Curriculum Committee could not
find an acceptable way to do this.
If the language were a CSU graduation requirement, there simply
wouldn’t be enough resources in terms of faculty, classrooms and
operating budgets to have every student enroll in a course, Blehm
“It became, in my opinion, financially unfeasible,” Blehm said.
“It was not feasible to make foreign language an admission or a