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In fall 2020, Olivet College will introduce revisions to the liberal arts core (LAC) curriculum, with changes in curriculum requirements taking effect for the Class of 2024. Faculty revised the College’s educational goals to reflect not only the vision and strategic plan of the College, but also the best practices in higher education today. The revised LAC curriculum reflects these updated educational goals.

“Through the liberal arts distributional courses, students will explore the world through the lens of specific disciplines and come to understand how scholars in different disciplines see the world,” Karen Chaney, Ph.D., dean of faculty and director of the liberal arts core program, explained. “It’s important to understand the methodology and lens of different disciplines in the arts and sciences. We also hope to expand the availability of courses in which students can explore global issues. The revised curriculum continues our institutional focus on Individual and Social Responsibility and global awareness.”

Expanding Students’ Perspectives

Among others, changes to the curriculum include the addition of specific requirements in the arts and humanities and social sciences, along with current requirements in the natural sciences, creative arts, mathematics, academic writing, a common first-year course and a senior capstone course. Modifications also include the addition of a physical health, mental health or wellness requirement and a required course in professional or general ethics.

These changes are designed to align the common curriculum of the College with the college-wide educational goals and learning outcomes approved by the faculty in 2015. Goals include effective communication and collaboration, critical thinking, liberal arts knowledge, global awareness, ethics and responsibility and application of knowledge.

For Assistant Professor of Media Studies Daine Pavloski ’13, those elements are what drew him to Olivet College originally.

“A liberal arts education is something that really caught my eye, not just when I considered returning to Olivet as a professor, but mainly as a student,” Pavloski said. “I was extremely interested in becoming a member of a learning community that wasn’t just going to teach me the technical skills and theoretical and historical foundations necessary to succeed in my chosen field. At Olivet, I wasn’t just learning how to be a photographer, writer, broadcaster or journalist. I was learning how to be a successful, prepared member of society.”

Encouraging Student Engagement with the World

The revised curriculum demonstrates Olivet’s commitment to remaining current in the field of higher education. With a core component focused upon exploring diversity and examining the world through an international or cross-cultural lens, the revamped LAC program will allow students to have a breadth and depth of study both inside and outside their major fields of study.

“Being exposed to things other than your own discipline is what makes us interesting human beings,” Gary Wertheimer, professor of art, said. “If we’re not exposed to diversity, we never really touch anything that takes us outside of our comfort zone. It’s important to have a broader view of the world. You miss out if you practice a myopic view of the world.”

Chaney agrees, expressing her passion for global learning.

“For me, liberal arts study is an opportunity to expand our minds, broaden our perspectives and obtain a depth of experience that enriches our human lives,” she said. “We exist in a world that’s increasingly globalized. Things that happen in other parts of the world have an impact on us — and vice versa. Developing a richer, nuanced knowledge of the world and expanding our circle of moral concern is very important in these times. It is increasingly important to think not only about the impact of our decisions upon ourselves and our loved ones, but also upon others, often those with whom we are not and will never be personally connected. Whether we use the popular metaphors of ‘web,’ ‘network’ or ‘virtual community’ to describe the current state of human social life, it is clear that we are increasingly interconnected and our future depends upon how we manage this profound interdependence.

“It’s an exciting time to be in college and an exciting time to explore the knowledge and wisdom accorded to us through the liberal arts.”

Curriculum Revisions

  • Reinstatement of a requirement in the arts and humanities.
  • Addition of a requirement in the social sciences.
  • Placement of the common course IDS 211 Civilization Studies as an option within a menu of courses to fulfill the social sciences requirement.
  • Addition of a course requirement in professional or general ethics.
  • Addition of a course requirement addressing physical health, mental health or wellness.
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