Feb 192004
Authors: Amy Resseguie

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

Committee chairman.

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

additional requirements.

“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

natural world.”

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

requires neither.

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

graduation requirement.”

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