Students weighed in on changes they believe should be made to USC’s current General Education program Thursday at a forum sponsored by Undergraduate Student Government and the Academic Cultural Assembly. USC professors John Monterosso and Marcus C. Levitt, who teach in the GE program, answered students’ questions at the event in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Changes to the GE program have recently been considered among university faculty and administrators.
The GE Faculty Committee has compiled a list of recommendations, which include increasing the number of required GE courses to a total of eight: one course in the arts, two in the humanities, two in the social sciences, one in life sciences, one in physical sciences and one in quantitative reasoning. Currently, the university requires students to take six courses.
Another proposal is to allow appropriate major and minor courses to fulfill GE requirements. Faculty from several arts and professional schools will be able to offer GE classes as well, possibly opening up more class options in the GE system. A new name, “USC Literacies Program,” has also been recommended. Other recommendations include restructuring the Thematic Option program in accordance with the new GE program.
In addition to faculty recommendations, students in the forum raised many major issues they believed need to change.
Many said GE classes lead to difficulties for students with stringent unit requirements for their majors. As a result, students said the courses become obstacles rather than opportunities. Some students, such as Al Valmadrid, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, proposed a few possible solutions.
“What if you get the students that are initially interested, and reduce the number of GE courses required,” Valmadrid said. “If you increase the number of GE courses, it goes in the wrong direction of its intent, because people wouldn’t be able to take the classes that they want. Professors can also get the students they want who have more enthusiasm.”
Some believe the proposed changes could run into a potential roadblock because USC is not a liberal arts university.
“People don’t want changes that add more to their work; they come here for pre-professional [opportunities],” said Monisha Bajaj, a sophomore majoring in communications and minoring in music industry. “That’s who we are — we’re not a liberal arts school. But if they want people to have a liberal arts education, which is something I value and I think it’s necessary, you have to change people’s attitudes towards the classes they’re taking, and one way to do that would be to change the structure of the course.”
USG Commuter Senator Adam Prohoroff said he believes the current GE system helps students transition into the real world.
“To move ahead and be able to connect with people, you need to have a well-rounded education,” Prohoroff said. “In the short term, you may look at it one way, but in the long-term, the GE program at USC is something that is really going to help students in their professional careers.”
USG’s Director of Academic Affairs, Andres Guarnizo, concluded the forum by promising to act on the many proposals for change.
“We want [students] to know that there are professors and there was a review and we also want to highlight that the student government is thinking about it,” Guarnizo said. “We’re listening and we want to make sure that it’s an opportunity to contribute through us and that we will be advocating for the changes that students proposed today.”
USG Residential Senator Jasmine McAllister told students to contact the organization if they have any concerns or opinions about changes to the GE program.