As USF students at a liberal arts college in the Jesuit tradition, we know before entering that there are core requirements in place to give us the most well-rounded education possible and also include classes that reflect social justice. It is valuable for us to study areas beyond our majors, but at what point does this benefit start restricting us from pursuing our interests?
USF’s core class requirements are lengthy and sometimes prevent us from exploring something more than the core and a major.
We should be able to take an extra class of our choice without the fear of not fulfilling graduation requirements.
USF requires us to take a theology class, an ethics class and a philosophy class; three similar subjects. As a religious school, USF’s theology requirement is fair, but we should be able to choose between ethics and philosophy because they have very similar underlying theories. By freeing up an opportunity for us to take another class, it will allow us to venture into subjects we want to learn more about instead of subjects we are required to learn about.
Another downside of the core requirements is they are too specific.
A USF student enrolled in a math or theology class is not assured that the class will count for the math or theology requirement. For example, “Religion and Society,” taught by Professor James Taylor, does not count towards USF’s theology requirement. By making the requirements too specific, USF is restricting students to a few classes that we may not be interested in.
If the core allowed any theology class to count for the theology requirement, we may be more inclined to take a class that interests us more than Catholicism 101. Another option is amending the visual and performing arts requirement and making it more inclusive by encompassing a drawing class or a painting class and removing the possible uncomfortable feeling of performing in front of peers.
Just as we need to understand that core requirements are in place for our benefit, USF must understand that we want the freedom to tailor our core classes as we see fit.
We should be encouraged to play an active roll in completing our education by having more options in how to complete our own core requirements.
Unforuntately, USF’s requirements are the norm in comparison to other Jesuit universities in the area.
The University of Santa Clara’s general core requirement is very similar to USF’s, with the exception of broader categories and a language requirement that takes less time to complete.
Santa Clara runs on a quarter schedule and requires only two quarters of a foreign language.
However, their theology requirement takes more time to complete than USF’s, as they require students to take three quarters of theology under their title of “Religion, Theology, and Culture.”
Santa Clara’s requirements equal the same amount of classes as USF, but allow students more freedom to choose which classes to take to fulfill the core.
Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, another Jesuit university, regulates their core system with five different categories: Thought and Expression, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Mathematics, and English Literature.
Each section requires a different number of credits. Some categories requires one class while others require three. The total amount of credits required to fulfill core requirements is 31.
But Gonzaga, like USF, has a narrow selection of courses that students can choose from to fulfill each category.
The core seems less invasive than USF’s core, but it still restricts students to a limited number of choices and gives them less freedom in choosing the course of their education.
Having a core-curriculum is essential to a well-rounded education, but its requirement should not keep us from pursuing a second passion or venturing further into a major.
USF’s selection of classes that fulfull core requirements must be broadened so that we can appreciate the core curriculum for exposing us to new topics rather than resent it for driving us away from topics we want to study.
Broadening the core choices would make it easier for us to fulfill requirements and give us more freedom in shaping our own educational path.