Two years ago Trinity University changed their program for general education requirements from the Common Curriculum to a new set of requirements called Pathways. Pathways was created to accommodate new academic goals for Trinity students to better expose them to different areas of academia and become well-rounded students.
“I know we had had Common Curriculum for about ten years,” said Jennifer Reese, academic records analyst. “Everything changes and the world around is changing and we want to take advantage of that and make sure that we change for our students and that they have the best advantages for what we offer.”
Since being implemented in 2105 every incoming first year has been put on the Pathways system. However, students who entered previously were still enrolled in the Common Curriculum program.
One of the biggest changes from the Common Curriculum system to Pathways was the way courses were divided up. However, both systems encourage students to take courses in areas outside of their major. Junior political science and ethical philosophy major, Abigail Schneebeck, appreciates this aspect of Pathways.
“I have liked Pathways. It’s sometimes frustrating to be forced to take classes in fields that do not interest me, but in the end it has been really reassuring to know that I am definitely choosing a path that fits me the most after being exposed to so many other fields,” Schneebeck said.
While the approaches in the Pathways program are similar to the understandings of the Common Curriculum, the core capacities have new requirements, such as oral and written communication, digital literacy and engaged citizenship. They also have interdisciplinary clusters, which are comprised of three classes that focus on a particular topic within academia, but are offered by different departments. Students have to take seven of their eight classes from the different clusters, ensuring that there is a variety of departments and academic interests represented.
“I think Pathways has been 100 percent successful in exposing me to different areas of academia,” Schneebeck said. “Because of Pathways, I chose to add philosophy to my degree along with political science. While I had to take classes that I didn’t want to pursue a degree in, I never would have taken a philosophy class without Pathways.”
Another change is the new digital literacy requirement. While students on Common Curriculum had that requirement, there was an option to test out of it. With Pathways, the student must enroll in a digital literacy course, no matter their previous skill set.
“The clusters are designed to open the students up to different options,” Reese said. “So maybe they take a class in a cluster that they may think, ‘You know, I really like this,’ but I don’t want to major in it so maybe I’ll take it towards a minor. It’s supposed to open them up to different ideas and course subjects.”
Seniors on the Common Curriculum program mostly enjoyed it, but have agreed that some changes needed to be made.
“I’ve really liked Common Curriculum,” said Zack Klein, a senior English and business administration major. “I think it has done a pretty good job of exposing me to different areas of academia. My only complaint is that I think it should require students to take more math/science classes. Common Curriculum favored the humanities and arts more than the sciences, and students would be more well rounded if they were required to take more math or science classes.”