by Phyllis Brown, Director, Undergraduate Core Curriculum
The centrality of the English Department to Santa Clara University’s Core Curriculum has been confirmed in the last year. The successful implementation of what will be called Core 2009 until students who matriculated before fall 2009 graduate depended on wide faculty participation—more than 600 courses have been approved for Core 2009, submitted by faculty in about 30 departments and programs. More than 100 of those courses were developed by faculty in the English Department, and during fall quarter 2009 alone, the English Department offered nearly 60 sections of courses for the new Core while continuing to offer courses for the major and for students completing the old Core. In 2010-11 the English Department will offer even more courses for Core 2009.
During the first year of implementation, the new Foundations sequences—Critical Thinking & Writing 1 and 2 and Cultures & Ideas 1 and 2—were particularly important. The new Core offers first-year students two opportunities for what amounts to 20 week classes, with small classes and excellent teachers who introduce them to the intellectual challenges of undergraduate education. In narrative evaluations, many students commented on how hard they had to work to understand difficult reading assignments and to integrate complex evidence from multiple sources. They also frequently comment that the theme of the sequence opened their eyes to complex realities in the world around them, even when the topic for the course emphasized the past.
Core 2009 features significant interrelationships between requirements for majors and requirements for the Core. Many of the learning goals for the Core, such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, perspective, arts and humanities, and diversity, are central to the English major. Other goals, such as civic life, ethical reasoning, civic engagement, social justice, and religious reflection, are important to some of our courses. For example, Creative Writing and Social Justice, Internet Culture and Information Society, and Literacy and Social Justice are examples of many upper-division English courses that contribute to requirements in Core 2009.
Faculty in the English Department will continue to play critical roles as students acquire the knowledge and habits of mind and heart that will allow them to understand the integrity of their own lives and engage with the world in meaningful ways for the rest of their lives.