Editorial: General Education options are too narrow

Any student working toward a degree at MU knows the frustration that comes with trying to fit together a graduation plan that allows you to explore your personal interests, fulfills the general education "breadth of study" requirements and permits you to graduate in a reasonable amount of time. College should be a time to take a variety of courses that will open our minds, broaden our cultural and technical horizons and shed light on other possible career opportunities, but the current system prohibits students from taking many non-required electives.

So we're definitely on board with a Faculty Council decision to form a committee to look into this issue. Jim Spain, vice provost for Undergraduate Studies, expressed worry at the last Faculty Council meeting that students aren't able to take advantage of MU's academic opportunities and asked for faculty support in re-evaluating the effectiveness of the General Education Program. Although some council members felt the issue dealt more with individual departments than with the program, they still passed a motion to form a task force - one that we hope will get things done.

We ask that this issue not be abandoned, and the committee makes it a priority to quickly examine the program's ups and downs and isn't afraid to make changes to the current system. We understand the need for a GEP, since there are some courses all students absolutely need to take. Everyone should learn the basic composition skills of English 1000 and the critical thinking skills of College Algebra. But it might not be necessary to mandate that every MU student must take a certain number of behavioral science, social science and humanities courses. This might be better left to individual departments to decide. Another potential move for the committee could be to increase the number of applicable courses for each requirement. By widening the possibilities for each one, it would at least enhance options for students. And in doing all of this, the committee should also find a way to clarify exactly what courses students can take for each requirement so there is no confusion, and academic counselors should make all students very aware of these lists, possibly even including them on the enrollment portion of myZou.

In addition to our requests for the faculty committee, we ask that students step forward and get involved with the process. A Missouri Students Association liaison would be a great start. Students and faculty should work together to determine the effectiveness of the program and make any necessary changes. With advocacy and action coming from both sides, it's more likely that faculty members will have interested students taking their courses and that students will enjoy the classes they take at MU.

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