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Changes to the College General Requirement allowing for greater academic freedom were passed unanimously last week by the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences, Committee on Undergraduate Education Chairperson David Brownlee said last night. The changes also provide for a unified Committee on the General Requirement, which will "review all proposals originating in departments and programs for General Requirement and Distributional Courses, approving or disapproving such courses and assigning them to sectors," the proposal states. According to the proposal, which was formulated by CUE, College students will now have the option of substituting a "Distributional Course" for one General Requirement course in each of the first three sectors. Distributional Courses will include almost all courses offered throughout the University, each course tagged with a designated sector, Brownlee said. He added that the option was undertaken for many reasons. One reason Brownlee pointed to is the difficulty some majors, especially those in the "hard sciences," encounter when trying to finish the General Requirement by the end of their first two years. Because of the number of pre-requisites these students must take, they are unable to do so. "Frequently, [Natural Science majors] end up fulfilling the General Requirement in their last two years," Brownlee said. "In general, we tried to create a system where [students] should at least be able to take one course in the six sectors in their first two years." The Distributional Course option will allow students to take upper-level courses to fulfill the College requirement, which in essence offers students more academic freedom, Brownlee said. "The changes help preserve the central integrity of the General Requirement and also allows students flexibility," Brownlee added. The decision to offer Distributional Courses was influenced greatly by the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education's White Paper on the matter, submitted last year, both Brownlee and SCUE Chairperson Matthew Kratter agree. "I think its wonderful that [CUE is] essentially following the SCUE model of restructuring the General Requirement," Kratter said this week. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Matthew Santirocco said he was delighted that SCUE participated so effectively. "I am particularly pleased that the student input was so valuable and that their opinion was taken so seriously by CUE," Santirocco said. In another portion of the report, the CUE proposal states that the General Requirement has been continually criticized because "it is difficult to discern the rationale by which its many and diverse courses have been selected, especially in the first three sectors." The proposal asks for all departments, especially those involved in the first three sectors, to review the courses offered to fulfill the College requirement and to form a smaller, more cohesive list of courses. Working on its own initiative, the English Department has reviewed its General Requirement offerings throughout the year and has already made changes for next semester, English Department Undergraduate Chairperson Al Filreis said last week. "After years of having the General Requirement, we realized that courses designated as Arts and Letters courses were incoherent," Filreis said. Filreis said the English Department also decided to change its General Requirement offerings because it wanted to "act as citizens of the College." He pointed out that no courses, up until now, have been created specifically to fulfill the intellectual ideal behind each sector. "There is no such thing as an academic constituency that transcends departments," Filreis said. "We created courses that would cross departments and represent the actual sectors." Four of five newly created courses will be offered next semester by the English Department in place of the previously offered requirement courses. "I'm impressed with what the English Department has done this year," Brownlee said. "I think that this kind of scrutiny is what other departments should be doing." Brownlee said the General Requirement course list will shrink significantly in the near future in hopes of creating a more cohesive list. To aid in the creation of a more cohesive course selection, the CUE proposal replaces the seven sector panels with one General Requirement Committee. The committee will contain one representative from each of the six sectors plus one from the Science Studies sub-sector. "This new single-certifying committee will provide a wonderful impetus for the creation of specially designed General Requirement courses," Santirocco said.

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