Update on General Education Reform in New Mexico

provost-dan-howardAbout a year ago, the Provosts of New Mexico’s public universities asked the Secretary of Higher Education for permission to redesign and revitalize the general education core curriculum of the state by moving from a focus on content areas to a focus on essential skills.  Secretary Barbara Damron agreed to the request, and a Statewide General Education Steering Committee (SGESC) has been working since February on identifying the essential skills, the general education curriculum model that will provide a foundation for the acquisition of these skills, and the learning outcomes associated with this curriculum.  My original, September 8, Post on the subject can be found here.
 
After much discussion, five essential skills were identified by the SGESC: communication; quantitative reasoning; critical thinking; personal and social responsibility; and information literacy.  More recently and after even more vigorous discussion, the SGESC is proposing that these essential skills be taught in a ten-course curriculum that includes six foundational courses and four elective courses. 
 
The foundational courses focus on a single essential skill and come from the content areas of: Communication; Science; Mathematics; Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and, Creative and Fine Arts.  The essential skills are reinforced in four elective courses that each focus on two essential skills and may, depending on institutional preference, come from a greater breadth of content areas, such as Engineering, Education, and Agriculture.
 
Although there have been many curriculum changes in American higher education since the founding of Harvard College 380 years ago, the overall purpose of higher education – to produce individuals with the skills essential for lifelong learning and the discipline of mind necessary to provide ethical and thoughtful leadership in the community and workplace – has remained unchanged.  
 
With this purpose in mind, I encourage all faculty, students, and staff associated with the NMSU system to go here and examine the general education curriculum model proposed by the SGESC.  Your feedback is valued and will be carefully considered by the committee before it makes a final recommendation to the New Mexico Department of Higher Education in the spring. 
 
The learning outcomes associated with this curriculum are currently undergoing revision based on feedback received in September and October of this year.  The revised learning outcomes will be posted and available for comment during the first week of December.  I will send out a notice to the university community when the comment period reopens.

With all best wishes,

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