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Faculty Senate passes resolution to update NU Core requirements

The Faculty Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution to update the NU Core framework to provide students greater flexibility and empower them to chart a multi-faceted academic path.

Through the new core, students can expect a number of elements to be threaded throughout several of their core courses, including communication skills, information literacy, civic engagement, exposure to Boston’s rich cultural resources, and opportunities for global analysis and engagement.

“This new framework focuses on what students learn, not where they learn it, in really broad ways of thinking,” said Susan Ambrose, senior vice provost for undergraduate education and experiential learning, who sat on the committee that restructured the requirements.

The new NU Core would comprise 10 “modes of inquiry” that give students the flexibility to study outside of their major or discipline. Those “modes of inquiry” include “exploring creative expression and innovation” and “analyzing and using data.” Each requirement has learning goals that outline what a student must be able to accomplish upon completion of the course.

Some faculty posed questions about the implementation process for this new core, and whether such changes signal flaws with the current core requirements.

“You have to make changes to keep up,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “It’s not a statement that we were doing anything wrong. This provides the university an opportunity to be a leader in developing principles for developing a core.”

This process began in fall 2013 and a university-wide represented committee, which included the head of the Student Government Association, shaped the proposal. The committee drafted the proposal after holding numerous meetings, collecting feedback from various departments, and hosting three public forums between November 2014 and January 2015.

The new framework will be required of all incoming students beginning in fall 2016. Students already enrolled in the university will complete the existing core or can opt into the new core.

After a lengthy discussion, the senate voted 25-7 in favor of the resolution, with two abstentions.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to change the name of the School of Education in the College of Professional Studies to the Graduate School of Education.

The Senate also passed a resolution to restructure how Excellence in Teaching Awards are determined. Each college is encouraged to name its own Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, and then a selection committee will pick two of those winners to receive the University Excellence in Teaching Award.

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