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College of Arts and Sciences changes liberal arts requirements

October 11, 2007

Students whose major falls within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) are experiencing changes in their liberal arts requirements this semester.

The changes were approved by the CAS Curriculum Committee, headed by Associate Dean Brad Caskey, April 25, 2007.

Among the more notable policy changes, CAS majors can now satisfy their liberal arts requirements with a minimum of eight credits instead of the 10 called for by the previous policy.

CAS majors are still required to choose courses from the same four divisions: Humanities, Modern Languages, Natural Sciences and Math and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

They will also need to take at least two liberal arts courses at the 200 level or higher. Prior to this change, all liberal arts courses taken needed to be at the 200 level or higher with the exception of those in the Modern Language division.

The reasoning behind the changes in minimum credits and the number of required 200 level courses was geared toward making life easier for the students, Caskey said.

“Students end up winning because they now have more flexibility,” he said. “Our decision was simply to give them that flexibility in their schedules and the choices they hope to choose from.”

All liberal arts courses had to be taken in a division outside of the department of one’s major or minor before the policy change.

Students must now take courses from at least two divisions and are allowed to take one course in the division of either their major or minor. The course, however, cannot be in either the major or minor designator area.

Despite the reasons for the policy shake-up, there are some potential adverse affects that could come from the changes, Bob Coffman, mathematics department chair said.

“I think that Modern Language enrollments could suffer, as taking a four credit course was a natural way to make the ten credit requirement,” he said. “As someone who likes languages very much and believes that their study is important, I think this is very unfortunate.”

The changes bring about mixed feelings from Derek Brandt, a UW-River Falls senior double majoring in History and Political Science.

“From a student’s point of view, it’s good, because it gives them an easier workload,” he said. “However, language in a modern world of globalization is becoming increasingly necessary.”

Change is a fundamental part of education, Brandt said.

“Whether this change is good or bad is to be seen,” he said.

Besides the goal of allowing students more flexibility in their scheduling, the changes were also a product of UWRF’s new general education requirements, Caskey said.

“It made sense to cut back on liberal arts requirements,” he said. “The new general educations basically overlap the goals of liberal arts.”

There are 29 of liberal arts courses that double count and fulfill either the American Cultural Diversity or Global Perspectives university requirements under the 2005-2006 Catalog.

Students who want to know more about the CAS liberal arts courses and what they count for can go to http://www.uwrf.edu/cas.