Did Whitworth’s gen eds need revision?

by Emma Maple | Staff Writer

Sometimes we need to fix things, even if they aren’t broken.

For the last two years, Whitworth has been working on revisions to their general education program. Fall of 2020 has been the first semester wherein these changes were implemented. While the adjustments have a few drawbacks, overall, they work to provide Whitworth’s students with a more practical education that they will be able to use in their professional life.

Kamesh Sankaran, director of Core 350, said “The general education is sort of like the backbone of any university’s educational program.” The gen-eds are a snapshot of Whitworth’s mission to provide its students with an education of both mind and heart. According to Sankaran, the goal of Whitworth’s shared curriculum is to “provide a broader framework that provides the scaffolding to integrate with whatever major you’re pursing.”

Whitworth accomplishes this mission through four different “inquiry groups” in which students are required to take various courses. The inquiry group that underwent the most change was the Belief Inquiry Group. According to Whitworth’s catalog page, the Belief Inquiry Group “works especially at the intersection of faith, worldview and reason.”

The Belief Inquiry Group consists of Core 150, 250, 350 and a brand-new class called Faith, Reason, and Contemporary Issues. The Core courses were cut from four credits to three to make room for this course.

These changes could have created some challenges around campus, especially because of the credit changes made to the Core classes. The registrar’s office is prepared to deal with this by allowing students who were admitted under the previous program to graduate using that program. However, once the class of 2023 graduates, Whitworth expects such potential problems to disappear. 

While the credit switch was a big change, the most important changes happened within Core 150 and 350. Kamesh Sankaran said that the biggest change to Core 350 was to provide a clear rationale for what students should learn in the course. He said, “They reduced some of the content on the theoretical aspects of worldviews and moved more towards an in-depth analysis of a policy based on the individual’s worldview.”

Similar changes were made to the Core 150 class. Joshua Leim, director of the Core 150 program, said he “wanted to shift away from a focus on Church history. I wanted to be more focused on ideas…[to] really have students examine critically their own worldview.”   Leim’s main goal is to move from a church history-oriented course to a worldview-oriented course that includes ideas and concepts that are relevant to our current society.

Changes takes time, money and effort. They can be difficult to implement and sometimes don’t even work. Whitworth doesn’t use these facts as excuses but forges ahead to provide students with the quality of education that makes this school an outstanding university. The university spent two years developing these changes out of a desire to make sure its students go into the world with an idea of how to use their perspective to help others. Through these choices, it has shown us its commitment to an education of both mind and heart. Even though the old gen-ed program wasn’t broken, Whitworth was kind enough to spend time and money to fix it anyway.