BGSU is bringing together the minds, talents and experience of faculty and staff to create an important step forward in the evolution of the University. Called Connecting the Undergraduate Experience (CUE), the project aims to revamp the general education curriculum and in the process help shape Bowling Green’s identity.
“Our approach to an integrated undergraduate experience has the potential to define our identity,” President Carol Cartwright said in her first State of the University address. Undergraduate education can be a “signature program for BGSU,” she predicted.
The decision to proceed with the redesign is the result of an in-depth survey of faculty and staff conducted last winter by Keeling and Associates consultants, and is closely tied to what the University community expressed in the strategic planning focus groups held last fall. That effort resulted in a number of strategies. Strategy No. 1 calls for BGSU to “create distinctive, coherent learning experiences that integrate curricular and co-curricular programs.”
The project’s name reflects its central theme: ensuring that students’ learning is cohesive and that experiences both in and out of the classroom contribute to their academic and personal development. Significant investment has already been made in first-year experience programs at BGSU; CUE seeks to strengthen the entire four-year college experience—“from orientation to capstone courses,” as Cartwright described it.
“This must be an intensive and extensive institution-wide conversation, and it is a significant opportunity to build upon some important, innovative and high-quality work we do here,” she said.
The University is providing substantial material support for the effort. In the 2009-10 budget, the board of trustees allocated funds for the general education redesign, recognizing its importance to the success of the University and to recruitment and retention.
The CUE effort, which is expected to take from 18-24 months, is already under way. Based on the results of the Keeling study, which affirmed that the process must be faculty-driven to be successful, the CUE Steering Committee is a Faculty Senate ad hoc committee. Led by Catherine Cardwell, interim vice provost for academic programs, the elected committee members are:
• Steve Boone and Dr. Dale Klopfer, from the College of Arts and Sciences
• Dr. Greg Rich, from the College of Education and Human Development
• Dr. Andrew Kurtz, from BGSU Firelands
• Dr. Nancy Orel, from the College of Health and Human Services
• Dr. Per Broman, from the College of Musical Arts
• Dr. Larry Hatch, from the College of Technology
• Colleen Boff, from University Libraries
Representing the constituent groups are:
• Dr. Franklin Goza, associate deans group
• Dr. Ellen Williams, Faculty Senate
• Dr. Barbara Henry, Undergraduate Council
• Dr. Neal Jesse, University Council of Chairs and Directors
Representing other University groups are:
• Dr. Joseph Oravecz, Division of Student Affairs
• Dr. Beatrice Guenther, experiential learning
• Dr. Radhika Gajjala, interdisciplinary learning
• Dr. Paul Moore, Honors Program
• Dr. Stephen Langendorfer, BG Perspective
The committee will develop educational criteria and potential conceptual models for a revised general education program (known here as BG Perspective) and share those models with the University community. It will eventually propose a model and work toward its adoption and implementation.
The group will hold two, two-day retreats, July 23 and 24 and Sept. 25 and 26, to allow time for uninterrupted, intensive discussions and reflection on what the character of BGSU’s general education program should be and how to achieve it.
Curricular changes will need to be approved by February 2011 in order for the new curriculum to begin in fall 2011.
Subgroups of additional members of the University community will also be formed to address issues related to creating an expansive, coherent undergraduate experience as these issues arise from the steering committee’s discussions.
Charged with communicating about the activities and progress of the effort are Bonnie Fink, Center for Teaching and Learning, and CTL graduate assistant Michelle Rodems; Dr. Bettina Shuford, associate vice provost, and Nicky Dutt, BG Perspective graduate assistant. The goal is to keep the process as transparent as possible.
Richard Keeling and Dick Hersh, of Keeling and Associates, will help guide the process. (See www.bgsu.edu/offices/mc/monitor/02-16-09/index.html.)