On Nov. 10, the Wayne State Board of Governors came together for a special meeting to review the recommendations of the Academic Affairs Committee concerning the general education statute. In the meeting, the proposal for new university-wide general education requirements—which have been in the works since May 2016—was approved.
The new requirements include an elimination of the critical thinking competency and the writing intensive, historical studies and computer literacy group requirements. They also include the addition of a one-credit course titled “Wayne Experience.”
“We need to do whatever it takes to support our students in completing their degrees in four years,” Governor Diane Dunaskiss said. “This a tremendous step in accomplishing that goal.”
The original proposal consisted of 32 credits and required students to take one course in the Natural Science Inquiry category—which included both life and physical sciences—with a lab.
Governor Michael Busuito motioned for an amendment to the proposal for the addition of a second required science course, raising the number of general education credits to 35. Governor Gaffney seconded the motion with a change to the amendment to allow students to choose between physical and life sciences.
This amendment sparked a debate over the increase in credits from 32 to 35.
Dunaskiss said she felt the process of choosing 32 credits as the limit should be respected and that the number was not chosen arbitrarily. She said there was no data to prove the benefits of having students take two sciences.
“I believe we should give the benefit to the work that’s been done and believe in the work that’s been done and trust in the faculty’s research around the 32 credits,” Dunaskiss said.
“I don’t see how 32 [credits] was arrived at in a data-driven way, I think that the 35 credits are a substantial reduction,” Governor Dana Thompson said.
The amendment was passed with six votes in favor and two opposed.
The new general education requirements are now 35 credits with the amendment that requires two science courses, giving students the flexibility to choose between life sciences—like microbiology and biochemistry—or physical sciences—like theoretical and organic chemistry.
Ryan Laith, a Student Senate senator at large, argued against the additional science course and said it would hinder students’ path toward their degrees and takes away their opportunities to pursue internships and coops.
“We do not believe it represents the interests of students and we prefer that they overlook the curriculum of the science courses that count for the [general education] requirements rather than adding more credits to a system that is already not in students’ favor,” Nourhan Hamadi, president of the Student Senate, said.
Stuart Baum, a member of Student Senate, said their main priority was to empower students to make better decisions with their degrees and allow them the room to pursue minors and multiple majors.
“The larger goal of what we were trying to do was just reduce the course load of the [general education],” Baum said.
“We’re just disappointed with the outcome,” Laith said.
The new general education requirements will go into effect fall 2018. Also in the BOG meeting was the unanimous approval of the sale of the Oakland Center.
For more information on the new requirements go to wayne.edu/engaging-gened. The next BOG meeting will take place Dec. 1.