New liberal studies curriculum pilots this semester

Rock Studies to introduce tracks, integrated learning across all majors

Published by Hannah Shumsky, Date: September 4, 2019
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Starting this fall, SRU students across all majors will experience a new type of liberal studies curriculum.

SRU’s class of 2023 will be the first class required to complete the Rock Integrated Studies Program.

Derrick Pitard, director of general education and chair of the liberal studies revision committee, said the university’s reaccreditation process through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education prompted the change to the liberal studies program.

“[Middle States] told us we needed to change the program in several key ways,” Pitard said.

Rock Studies encompasses 42 required credits between three areas: “The Rock,” Integrated Inquiry and thematic threads.

“The Rock” includes Critical Writing, Critical Reading and Quantitative Reasoning. Students must also take Civil Discourse through the communications department, but PHIL 110 and POLS 235 can fulfill this requirement.

Students must also enroll in a university seminar course. In fall 2019, 36 different university seminar courses were offered to freshmen.

Integrated Inquiry requires students to take a total of 15 credits across five inquiry categories: creative and aesthetic, humanities, natural science, physical science and social science. Students are required to take Science of Life and Understanding the Physical World to fulfill the natural science and physical science categories.

Pitard said that the courses in Integrated Inquiry are not limited to one subject. For example, Macroeconomics will fulfill the the social science requirement by addressing the topic through understanding mathematics and society function.

“All of them are integrated,” Pitard said. “None of them are just one discipline.”

In the third part of Rock Studies, thematic threads allow students to explore a concept in more depth. Threads combine courses from multiple departments to address the overall idea of the thread.

As of press time, two threads are available: The Future and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. More threads will become available as the liberal studies program continues to approve threads.

According to Pitard, the threads will allow courses in Rock Studies to relate within one theme, which was not possible under the “shopping market” model of the previous liberal studies program.

“That was the worry in the old program, that people were merely picking courses because it fit a block and they didn’t care about what was in there, they just needed to fill the block,” Pitard said.

To declare a thread, students will submit a form to academic records by the time they complete 45 credits.

More information about the Rock Integrated Studies Program can be found here.

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Hannah Shumsky
Hannah is a junior secondary English education major and communication minor entering her second year on The Rocket staff and her first year as editor-in-chief. Previously, she served as assistant news editor and covered Student Government Association affairs and local crime. After graduation, she hopes to teach English, communications and journalism to high school students. Outside of The Rocket, Hannah is also part of WSRU-TV, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Honors College and works as an educator in the Transition Achievement Program.

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