Updated October 27, 2022
General Education Resolution
In 2018 the University convened a task force to lead a campuswide review of UA’s general education curriculum and experiences.
Composed of faculty members from across campus, the task force was charged with developing a comprehensive plan for general education that connects the learning goals of academic programs and Student Life and proposing a curriculum supports the development of curious learners, critical and creative thinkers, and informed and engaged citizens.
After more than 3 years of research, feedback and discussion with stakeholders (faculty, staff, and students) across campus, the Faculty Senate recommended a new core curriculum Pathways model. This proposed curriculum reduces the required core credit hours and integrates high-impact experiences, among other changes.
Because of the scope and importance of the proposed changes, “all tenured, tenure-track, and renewable contract full- time faculty with the rank of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, or equivalent and whose administrative appointments do not exceed fifty percent of their total appointments” (Faculty Handbook section IV.C) are being asked to vote on these proposed changes to the curriculum via referendum. The online vote will be held securely and anonymously between November 1-15.
A separate email with instructions to vote will be sent when the voting opens on November 1.
Current Core Curriculum
A comprehensive review of The University of Alabama (UA) Core Curriculum was last performed in 1995, prompted by the creation of the 41/42-hour general studies curriculum by the Alabama Articulation and General Studies Committee (AGSC). UA slightly revised its Core Curriculum in 1997 to adopt the AGSC general studies curriculum, resulting in the 53/55-credit hour Core Curriculum in place today. Except for students enrolled in the College of Engineering, UA’s current Core Curriculum requires:
|Written Composition (FC)||6|
|Writing Intensive (W)||6||Courses at the 300- and 400-level, preferably in the student’s major, approved for the writing designation|
|Computing (C) or Foreign Language (FL)||6-8||Computer courses integrating software or writing computer programs OR two semesters or the equivalent in one foreign language|
|Humanities (HU) Literature (L) Fine Arts (FA)||12||Students must complete at least 3 semester hours in fine arts and literature AND a 6 semester hour sequence in either literature or history|
|History (HI) Social & Behavioral Sciences (SB)||12||Students must complete at least 3 semester hours in history AND a 6 semester hour sequence in either literature or history|
|Natural Sciences (NS)||8||Students must complete eight hours of natural sciences|
|Mathematics (MA)||3||Math 110 or higher|
For students enrolled in the College of Engineering:
|Written Composition (FC)||6|
|Writing Intensive (W)||6||Courses at the 300- and 400-level, preferably in the student’s major, approved for the writing designation|
|Computing (C)||6||Computer courses integrating software or writing computer programs|
|Humanities (HU) Literature (L) Fine Arts (FA)||9||Students must complete a 6 semester hour sequence in at least one discipline of this category (H, L, FA) or the next category (HI, SB)|
|History (HI) Social & Behavioral Sciences (SB)||9||Students must complete a 6 semester hour sequence in at least one discipline of this category (HI, SB) or the preceding category (H, L, FA)|
|Natural Sciences (NS) Mathematics (MA)||12||Must include two hours of laboratory and Math 125 or higher|
Proposed Core Curriculum
In Fall 2018, the UA General Education Taskforce (GET) was charged by Provost Kevin Whitaker to lead a campus-wide review of UA’s general education (GE) requirements and experiences and to develop a comprehensive plan for GE that connects the learning goals of the major, the work of Student Life, and a curriculum that further supports the development of curious learners, critical and creative thinkers and informed and engaged citizens.
Between 2019 and 2022, GET reviewed our Core Curriculum, benchmarked it against 120+ peer institutions, administered a campus-wide survey, consulted with AAC&U to understand national general education models, and proposed three Core Curriculum models for consideration by the UA Faculty Senate, UA Deans, Provost Dalton, and President Bell.
After campus-wide presentations and input, the UA Faculty Senate recommended a Pathways model:
- reducing the number of required core credit hours;
- incorporating a first-year curricular experience (UA Experience);
- requiring foundational courses in arts and sciences;
- including advanced education requirements that must be completed in UA colleges/schools; and
- integrating high-impact experiences (First-Year Experience, Experiential Education, a Capstone course)
General Education Core – May be completed before UA enrollment
|First Year Experience (FYE)||2||UA Experience within College and FYE; this requirement is two 1-hour courses completed within the first year for first-year students. Transfer students will have a 1-hour UA 301 requirement|
|Written Composition (FC)||6||Identical to current core|
|Foreign Language (FL)||0/6||6 credit hours required for those who did not complete FL in high school. For students required to complete FL 101 and 102 courses, these will also count as meeting a portion of the Humanities (HU) requirement. Computing is removed as an option|
Fine Arts (FA)
Social & Behavioral
|Natural Sciences (NS)||8||Identical to current core|
|3-4||Statistics courses added as an option|
Undergraduates may complete the general education core requirements listed above at UA or another institution (e.g., transfers; according to established course equivalencies), but must complete the advanced education requirements (listed below) at UA.
Advanced Education Requirements – MUST be completed within UA College/School
|Writing Intensive (W)||3||Courses at the 300- and 400-level approved for the writing designation|
|*Cultures & Societies (CU)||3||300- or 400-level courses determined by the college and core curriculum oversight committee|
|Capstone Course||3||400-level course completed in major|
|**Experiential Learning||variable||Education abroad, approved internship/co-op, undergraduate research, OR approved community engagement|
* Designated university courses centered on citizenship within a global community mapped to meet the Cultures & Societies requirement
** Approvals and exceptions for Experiential Learning requirements will be decided by the student’s home college based on its curriculum, learning outcomes, and the professional development needs of its students. An inventory/catalog of community engagement, internship/externship, study abroad, and undergraduate research opportunities will be developed.
Summary of Changes
- Same General Education core curriculum for all UA students
- Overall reduction of core credit hours from 53-55 credit hours over two years to 37-38 credit hours, with advanced education requirements within major
- Addition of a common UA first-year experience (2 credit hours) within each College; this requirement is two 1-hour courses completed within the first year for first-year students. The first semester will be in a college compass course and the second semester in a course developed through FYE. For transfer students, a 1-hour UA 301 will be required.
- Reduction of writing-intensive requirement from 6 to 3 credit hours
- Reduction of humanities, literature, and fine arts requirement from 12 to 9 credit hours
- Reduction of history and social/behavioral requirements from 12 to 9 credit hours
- Requirement for all UA graduates to have completed foreign language in high school or at UA (by removal of computer science option)
- Greater flexibility in requirements for fine arts, humanities, literature, history, and social behavioral sciences
- Expansion of mathematics requirement to include statistics
- Addition of Cultures & Societies requirement for all UA graduates
- Addition of Capstone requirement within major for all UA graduates
- Addition of Experiential Education requirement for all UA graduates
- Allows for greater commitment to major(s), minor(s), and/or electives (reduced basic core credit hours)
- Allows students greater ability to double major (reduced basic core credit hours)
- Provides greater flexibility for transfer students to complete core requirements elsewhere
- Creates advanced education requirements for all UA graduates
- Spans a student’s undergraduate experience (core education progression)
- Provides for expanded leadership for internship engagement
- Offers college-managed advanced education requirements for majors based on student, curricular, and professional demands
Recommended Timeline for Implementation
- Hold faculty referendum
- If endorsed, appoint the general education leadership team to guide the transition, including members from OAA, GET, UGC, CCOC, FYE, Community Affairs, OIE, Registrar, Advisors, Strategic Communications, and Colleges/Schools
- Share the faculty-endorsed core curriculum with the UA Board of Trustees
January 2023 to December 2023
- Begin implementation and create an oversight structure
- Map existing A&S courses to General Education Core
- Map college/school courses to General Education Core (where applicable)
- Map college/school courses to advanced education requirements (i.e., writing intensive [W] and cultures & societies [CU])
- Assess and modify requirements of each major given core course mapping
- Submit courses and designations to Core Curriculum Oversight Committee for review and endorsement
- Develop and implement assessment plan (SLOs and curricular mapping)
- Define common elements of UA Experience (e.g., mission, values, campus resources, Blackboard, academic skills and success, wellness, financial literacy, inter-cultural competence, co-curricular engagement, advising/registration, community/civic engagement) and coordinate with colleges/schools to implement with existing introductory courses (e.g., GBA 146)
- Define and create an inventory/catalog of community engagement, internship/externship, study abroad, and undergraduate research opportunities
- Define and create curricular PATHWAYS and map college/school courses
- Develop an admissions system to assess high school foreign language achievements
- By May 1, 2023 – Establish catalog and timeline with UA Registrar’s office
- Publicly announce the Fall 2025 launch of UA’s new general education core curriculum
- Begin recruiting/admission of the first cohort of first-time undergraduates who will fully complete their degrees under the requirements of the new core
January 2024 to August 2025
- Approve changes to courses and majors and update course catalog
- Colleges evaluate and develop plans for the articulation of existing students who enrolled at UA before the newly defined core and major requirements were put in place.
- Matriculate Class of 2029 as the first cohort who will fully complete their degrees under the requirements of the Crimson Core
- Continue assessment
Who will vote in the referendum?
Those matters the Faculty Senate or University Administration deem to be especially important, and are not specific to individual academic divisions, are referred to the faculty for a faculty-wide referendum. Except as governed by other sections of the Faculty Handbook, for purposes of voting on referenda, “faculty” is defined to include all tenured, tenure-track, and renewable contract full- time faculty with the rank of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, or equivalent and whose administrative appointments do not exceed fifty percent of their total appointments. The online vote will be held securely and anonymously between November 1-15.
Has every detail of the new general education core been figured out?
No. Approval of the proposed general education core commits UA to a path (timeline outlined above) to finalize its specifics within the parameters outlined herein. Issues regarding the counting of credit hours towards the core, major(s),and minor(s), majors allowing electives versus adding additional hours, the handling of transfer students, whether or how the 1 credit hour FYE course can be embedded in existing courses, creating and maintaining an inventory of experiential learning opportunities and their associated course credit (if any), and determining what course are designated for cultures & societies credit are a few of many tasks to be addressed. OAA will work with the colleges/schools to appoint the general education leadership team to guide the transition. The leadership team will have broad university representation, including members from OAA, GET, UGC, CCOC, FYE, Community Affairs, OIE, Registrar, Advisors, Strategic Communications, and Colleges/Schools, and be comprised of numerous subcommittees (e.g., curriculum, FYE, experiential education, etc) tasked with the various components of implementation.
Who will teach the two 1-credit hour courses proposed as First-year Experience (UA Experience)?
The Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, and others already offer first-year courses in which the majority of our undergraduate students enroll. However, requiring all first-year students to complete two 1-credit hour courses will be resource/faculty intensive. Dividing first-year students into two groups which alternatively complete a classroom experience or a community engagement experience in fall/spring is one possibility to meet this demand. Additionally, some colleges already require 100-level courses (1-3 hours) that can be adapted to include core components, suggesting that existing courses with variable credit hours can be utilized. One of the first tasks of the general education leadership team will be to address these issues and outline additional resources to meet it.
How will students with undeclared majors complete the First-year experience?
They will need to select a course offering within one of the colleges/schools.
Will any of the general education core courses be taught in colleges/schools other than arts & sciences?
Yes. UA currently has courses in other colleges that can be taken to meet general education core requirements in history (HI), humanities (HU), natural science (N), social and behavioral sciences (SB), and writing (W). This will continue to be the case in the new core. All courses will need to be re-assessed for suitability to the core.
Who decides what is counted as a course meeting a general education core requirement?
Colleges/schools will make recommendations to the UA Core Curriculum Oversight Committee. Decisions of the Oversight Committee are subject to the approval of and may be appealed to the Office for Academic Affairs.
Will the number of students taking foreign languages decline?
Between 2015-2021, 31% of undergraduate students completed our current foreign language requirement, while 79% completed computer sciences courses to fulfill the requirement. We do not expect the number of students taking a foreign language at UA to decline significantly.
How will UA accommodate students with learning disabilities precluding them from enrollment in foreign language courses?
Undergraduate students with certain disabilities (e.g., dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder) sometimes have limitations that reduce their academic capacity for foreign languages. They may have had their foreign language requirement waived in high school. UA will need to identify substitute courses in which students with such disabilities may enroll with approval from the Office of Disability Services (ODS).
Whereas, UA’s general education core has undergone only modest revisions since its implementation in the early-1980s;
Whereas, UA’s general education core requirements (53-55 credit hours) exceed those of all SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12 peers and most Carnegie R1 institutions;
Whereas, impending declines in the number of high school seniors and undergraduate enrollment nationwide makes it imperative that UA remain competitive with its peers and provide a premier undergraduate education that enhances the lives of our students, graduates, and the communities they serve;
Whereas, the proposed general education core curriculum meets or exceeds the criteria [statement regarding Alabama, ACHE, AGSC, and/or SACSCOC requirements being met] in all foundation disciplines;
Whereas; the highest percentage of undergraduate student attrition at UA occurs during the first two years of study when students are typically completing the general education core requirements;
Whereas, the requirement for first-year experiences, experiential education, inter-cultural competence, and a Capstone course are high-impact educational practices shown to be of great value to undergraduate learners in terms of student retention and graduation rates;
Whereas, some UA majors require more than 120 credit hours to complete and therefore reducing the general education core requirements to 37-38 credit hours will allow for greater credit hours to be devoted to the major(s), minor(s), or electives and accommodate non-traditional, transfer, and high-credit entry students;
Whereas, the proposed general education core curriculum reduces the total number of core credit hours required and allows students to fulfill the advanced education requirements in their colleges/schools/majors;
Whereas, the proposed general education core curriculum will allow UA undergraduates greater flexibility in course selection and greater ability to pursue a double major;
Whereas, I as a faculty member at UA have reviewed the proposed changes to the general education core curriculum and advanced education requirements at UA designed to benefit UA undergraduate students during the pursuit of their chosen degree(s);
_________ I endorse the proposed changes to the UA general education core curriculum (i.e., UA should take steps to begin implementation of the 37-38 credit hour core)
_________ I do NOT endorse the proposed changes to the UA general education core curriculum (i.e., UA should continue the current 53 credit hour core)
Eligible faculty were asked to participate in a secure and anonymous online vote Nov. 1-15, 2022. 1,043 (66%) of 1,570 eligible faculty voted in the referendum, representing a quorum. Furthermore, a majority (60%) of the faculty and a majority of the colleges/schools who voted in the referendum endorsed the proposal. Detailed data regarding the voting results are summarized below:
- “Other” includes faculty in ALRI, ATI, Early College, ELI, and Overseas Studies.
Message from The Provost
This is an momentous occasion in UA’s history and commits us to a timeline to launch the new core curriculum in Fall 2025. We have much to do in the coming 14 months to finalize the specifics of the of the core, introduce it to potential students in early 2024, and ready the necessary resources for its roll out in Fall 2025. Faculty will participate in EVERY committee and EVERY aspect of implementation through the immediate creation of an Implementation Steering Committee and several faculty sub-committees outlined below. Additional committees will be established as needed as we advance to our goals. The Office of Academic Affairs will immediately begin establishing a mechanism for nomination/self-nomination of faculty to the sub-committees (details to follow).
General Education Implementation Steering Committee
GET Co-Chairs (2); Faculty Sub-Committee Chairs (11); OIE; OAA; OIRA; OUR; OTIDE; Undergraduate Admissions, Strategic Communications
- Undergraduate Council Role
- Core Curriculum Oversight Committee Role and Revamp of mission and scope
- Define Designations
- Course Designation Approval Process
- Core Review and Revision Process
- Transition from “legacy” core to new core
- Soft moratorium on changes to majors
- High School Pre-Requisites and/or Proficiency Exams
- Digital Literacy/Computer Proficiency
- Foreign Language
- Natural Science
- First-Year Experience
- Current and needed courses
- Faculty resources
- Experiential Learning
- Inventory and expansion of opportunities
- Minimum criteria to satisfy
- Writing Intensive
- Capstone Courses
- Cross designation with experiential learning?
- Cultures & Societies
- Cross designations
- Transfer Students
- AGSC-STARS alignment
- Five-year review process
- Pathways – Development of paths/themes; How many initially?; Process to propose and approve additional pathways; Cross designations with core; How long a Pathway is available?; Possible initial pathways:
- Knowledge of Human Cultures
- Fine Arts, Humanities, Literature
- The Physical and Natural World
- Physical and Natural Sciences
- Intellectual and Practical Skills
- Inquiry and Analysis
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Digital Literacy
- Information Literacy
- Teamwork and Problem-Solving
- Personal and Social Responsibility
- Civic Knowledge and Engagement—Local and Global
- Ethical Reasoning and Action
- Personal Well-Being
- Knowledge of Human Cultures
- Coordination with admissions
I want to commend the members of our General Education Task Force, the faculty senate, and the many others for their hard work in advancing this initiative, as well as those faculty who reviewed and voted on the proposal over the last two weeks. Roll Tide!!