Greetings Colleagues and Students,
FGCU is a unique institution in many ways. From our focus on service learning to having sustainability as part of our DNA (as President Bradshaw would say), we stand out within the state of Florida and nationally as a distinctive institution. The changes to our general education curriculum, being mandated by the state legislature, should be seen as an opportunity for us to extend our distinctiveness into our core curriculum.
There are several ways in which I see this as an opportunity, despite the limitations imposed on us from the state, which is reducing our general education requirements from 36 hours to 30 hours, and determining 15 of those hours.
First, revising our general education program (GEP) provides us with an occasion to foster greater flexibility and integration into the curriculum. We can develop a coherent, student-centered curriculum that is consistent with national and contemporary thinking about what students should experience in their general education program.
For example, our curriculum can focus on helping prepare students for the challenges they face in today’s rapidly changing, dynamic, and global century by focusing on skill sets and targeted outcomes as opposed to a prescribed list of courses developed, taught, and assessed in silos.
Second, these revisions are an opportunity to revitalize our teaching in the GEP (and beyond) by focusing our approach to teaching and learning in new ways. By exploring new frameworks for our GEP, we are compelled to reconsider the kinds of experiences students can and should have in our classroom settings and in the experiences derived from those settings.
Third, our revision process will be transparent, inclusive, and collaborative. One key strength of FGCU is its innovative and committed faculty. Coming together in dialogue about how to develop a signature core program can allow us to view general education differently. We can develop a curriculum in which we are all invested, and feel proud to participate in and share with our students.
Fourth, we can use this as an opportunity to improve our GEP, which would allow us to both model national, contemporary thinking about general education, and align the General Education Program more closely with our guiding principles. Our guiding principles include an emphasis on diversity, service to the local community, technological literacy, environmental consciousness, connected, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning and engaged citizens.
To be sure, the process of revising our GEP will include difficult choices and challenging conversations. It is my hope that the process will also result in strategic choices that reflect our values as an institution, and our visionary capacity as a diverse, dedicated, and thoughtful campus community.
In the coming months, this website will serve as a portal for information about this process and will be updated regularly. However, in the spirit of transparency and inclusivity, I encourage anyone to contact me directly with questions, concerns, or ideas as we move forward. I am honored to guide us through this process, and I am confident that our general education program will emerge as yet another distinctive feature of this remarkable institution.
Kris De Welde, Ph.D.
Director of General Education
Associate Professor of Sociology