Liberal to the Core

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Distribution requirements reflect changing world.
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By Stacey Schmeidel

What does it mean to be liberally educated? The answer to that question is changing. For the first time in more than 20 years, Davidson has altered its distribution requirements. The change is a result of the college’s strategic plan, said Clark Ross, vice president for academic affairs. “These new requirements have been developed after long discussion, with input from the vast majority of faculty. This new system will allow the college to retain its commitment to existing majors while providing students with the knowledge needed to lead responsibly in a changing world.”

The new requirements, which will apply to the Class of 2016 and beyond, require students to take one course from each of eight categories: Historical Thought; Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric; Mathematical and Quantitative Thought; Natural Science; Philosophical and Religious Perspectives; Social-Scientific Thought; Visual and Performing Arts; and Liberal Studies. Other requirements remain unchanged: students must also take a course in each of these categories; Cultural Diversity, Foreign Language, and Writing 101.

This year, the faculty will sort courses into categories. Ross noted that the current distribution requirements were put into place before two thirds of the faculty were hired. The new system therefore will allow faculty to be more involved in shaping an effective curriculum, he said. In addition, the new requirements capture new or modified disciplines that don’t fit neatly into current guidelines.

“The current system has been in place longer than I’ve been alive,” Billy Hackenson ’13 said. “I’m confident the new system will allow us to view these new requirements as opportunities, rather than obligations.”

Read more about the requirements.

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