The changes of the general studies program at Virginia Wesleyan have been the talk of the school within the past few weeks. The changes have new requirements: a series of three seminars and required electives from each School here at Wesleyan. This means that students must complete electives within the Goode School of Arts and Humanities, the Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Birdsong School of Social Science and the Watts School of Professional Studies. Implementing this new program has set up a new way for incoming freshmen to complete the program, however if you have already started taking classes at Wesleyan, every course that you have already taken to fulfill a requirement will still count toward completing your General Education requirements.
For incoming freshmen, the program is set up to where they must take three seminars along with electives to graduate from the program. WES 100, WES 200 and WES 300 will be taken in the freshman, sophomore and junior years respectively so that it is a smooth way to complete the program. The seven “letter” designations that used to be requirements (A, T, V, L, Q, S, and H) are now being removed from the courses.
In the summer of 2019, the last of classes that require these letters will be taught. Current W and SIE courses will continue to carry their “W” and “I” requirements through the 2021-2022 academic year, however will then be terminated the following academic year. Incoming freshmen must complete two courses from each School in order to grasp the entirety of a liberal arts education. If you are transitioning into the new program and will not start it as a freshman, each “letter” designation that used to be a requirement will now be replaced by one of the seminars or one of the electives given from the different Schools here at Wesleyan.
Sophomore softball player Jessica Goldyn is one of the students who plans on transitioning into the new program starting in her junior year. “Well, I wanted to stay on the management side and I’ve always been into sports, so I decided to stay with sports management,” Goldyn said. It seems that many students who are already focusing on recreation and leisure feel the switch to the new program will be easier and more focused on what they actually want to do with their careers post graduation.
There are five committee members in charge of the program and its changes. Dr. Susan Larkin, Dr. Kellie Holzer, Dr. Jill Sturts, Dr. Margaret and research librarian Susan Erickson are the leaders who make up this committee. Although they are the leaders in the revisions made to the general studies program, students also had a voice in the different changes being made. “Yes, there was student input. We met with SGA both last year and the year before to discuss the proposal as it was being developed. We used the feedback from those sessions to help us design the new General Education program. For example, students told us that they found the General Studies “letters” to be confusing. We worked to build a program that was more transparent for students,” said committee member Dr. Larkin. Talks about changes to the general studies program at Wesleyan have been going on for quite sometime now.
These adjustments that the students are seeing now have been in the works for a while and it is an exciting time for students, professors and faculty members. “Revision to our General Education program has been discussed for many years. A large faculty committee began formal discussions five years ago. Two years ago, a smaller writing group took the ideas that had been developed and presented a few possibilities to the campus. Based on that feedback, the group developed a proposal, again got feedback from faculty and students and revised based on that. That revised curriculum was voted on and approved by the faculty last spring. The implementation committee has been working this year and the new curriculum will go into effect with the entering class of 2023,” said Dr. larkin. VWU students, both future and current, will get to experience this new program.
While incoming freshman will get to experience the changes first hand, current students will have to continue their current curriculum, however they can still follow the guidelines in order to be apart of the programs changes. Dr. Larkin explains how the new program plans to implement future and current VWU students: “Students entering VWU in the fall will be the first to be under the new General Education program. Current students will NOT be under the new curriculum. They will continue with the same General Studies requirements that they entered with. Every course that a student has already taken to fulfill a requirement will still count toward completing their Gen Ed requirements. There will not be any new requirements added. Degree audits in WebAdvisor will look exactly the same, but the lists of courses that students choose from to fulfill the letter requirements will change. All of this information is laid out in the transition policy.”