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BFC considers more general education courses, extending undergraduate years



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Lauren Robel, provost and executive vice president of IU, listens during a Bloomington Faculty Council Meeting on Oct. 2 in President’s Hall. The council will meet for their first meeting of the spring semester in January. Matt Begala Buy Photos

A plan to add a year of shared courses and a plan to break from the mold of a four-year undergraduate education were the main topics at Tuesday’s  Bloomington Faculty Council meeting.

The ideas were introduced as part of the long-range planning committee’s goal for IU’s next 20 to 30 years. It would help IU break away from the idea that undergraduate education takes four years to complete and add a year of shared courses for all IU students, according to an initial document released to the council. 

However, this plan is still in the discussion stage, and no move was made to act on any of the ideas introduced in the initial document. 

A 3-4-5 year model of college education, would allow students to broaden their education while extending their time at IU, according to the document. According to the committee, this model would still provide the standard four-year education for students who want it but encourage others to stay longer to add more majors, minors or certificates to their undergraduate degree. 

“This is more to encourage students to diversify from their current strategy of graduating in four years to a new strategy of getting an additional credential in five years,” Provost Lauren Robel said. 

However, the council did take into consideration the added financial burden another year of college would have on students. 

“One of the ethical issues about this is comparing the value of the model to the cost,” committee member Colin Johnson said. 

The committee also suggested changing IU’s curriculum to include one year of shared seminar courses for all students, regardless of their school or major. This would be in addition to the general education classes already required across the University. According to the document released by the committee, the courses would need to be taken on IU’s campus. 

Members of the BFC said they agreed with the idea but questioned the logistics behind the plan, including figuring out the role of the Indiana General Assembly in adding general education courses to the curriculum. 

“We have to be vigilant on how the state legislature looks at this and what kind of groundwork we need to lay to do this,”  BFC member Barbara Cherry said. “We need to look at the big political picture.”

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Moira Marsh, president of the BFC, announced the dates for three town hall meetings in November to discuss the amendments to its constitution that were voted on earlier this year. Marsh said these meetings will inform and prepare faculty for the final ratification of the amendments taking place later in the semester. 

The town halls will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 as well as from 3 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Indiana Memorial Union. 

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