Westminster Breaks the Mold with Revamp of General Education Classes

Mar 10, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Forget snoozing through Math 101 or Intro to Psychology. Beginning fall semester 2016, Westminster students have exciting choices like Counting Votes, a look at U.S. voting methodology that puts mathematics to use in new ways; or Bust that Psych Myth, which exposes legends such as the power of hypnosis.

Westminster’s new liberal arts curriculum is called WCore. Faculty designed WCore to fulfill general education requirements with classes that are anything but basic. Students will dig deep by tackling real-world situations. Some class options include:

  • Vampire Literature
  • How We Die in America
  • National Parks Geology
  • Science of Food and Drink
  • People, Power and Protest
  • Drawing Lines in the Sand

“When we started designing WCore we wanted to get past the stereotype many colleges face of students coming in and saying ‘okay what classes do I have to get out of the way?’” said Barb Smith, WCore committee chair and professor of psychology at Westminster. “We said, ‘let’s break away from tradition and do something really different.’”

The overhaul started with the college evaluating its general education curriculum. Faculty identified the best parts of the old system, investigated national trends and developed a custom program for Westminster that breaks the mold of traditional higher education models.

Instead of a conventional framework of 16 or more categories, Westminster realized it could meet accreditation requirements without following strict and cumbersome guidelines. In under a year, faculty designed a streamlined curriculum with 80 new courses around intriguing topics that provide students with the foundation of a valuable education.

Beginning in August 2016, Westminster students will take six total WCore classes, fulfill four Emphases and complete an Engaging the World requirement. They will finish WCore with a senior capstone project and showcase. They will still need 124 hours to graduate but there are fewer hour requirements in WCore than in the current system. The design provides more time in a student’s schedule for major, a minor and/or electives.

“WCore encourages students to explore new disciplines as early as their first semester in college,” said Lisa Gentile, Westminster provost. “The combination of charting their own path through the four-year WCore program while completing a major allows students to enter the workforce, graduate school or professional school having both the disciplinary-specific knowledge as well as broad-base critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills they need for future success.”

This is one possible path. Students will design their own individualized WCore curriculum with an advisor.

Media Contacts

Arikka Von

About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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