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Friday, November 24, 2017

CLA Statement of Principles on Liberal Education Redesign

(CLA's shared governance and consultative bodies, including the CLA Assembly, the Council of Chairs, and the Dean's academic leadership team, established in November 2017 the following set of principles to guide the University's deliberations on liberal education redesign.)

The College of Liberal Arts, through consultation among Dean John Coleman, Associate Deans Jane Blocker, Penny Edgell, Ascan Koerner, and Steven Manson, the chairs of the thirty-one CLA departments (through their representative body, the Council of Chairs), and the CLA Assembly, sets forth the following principles with respect to the redesign of undergraduate Liberal Education requirements.

Rather than choose among and promote one of the Liberal Education models currently being considered, the College advocates a set of principles that should guide the redesign process in whatever form it takes.

As the largest college at the University of Minnesota, “dedicated to education in the liberal tradition that fosters enriched, productive, and satisfying lives,” CLA takes seriously its responsibility to advance the liberal education of students across the university.  CLA’s mission is to guarantee that students are exposed to and become proficient with broad, pluralistic, and complex forms of knowledge. It prepares students to think and act creatively, compassionately, and ethically in their private and public lives and to respond to the needs of others in local and global contexts. The College believes Liberal Education should promote active, experiential learning; foster students’ intellectual passion and curiosity; and prepare students for their lives after graduation and to take their place as global citizens.

CLA values and supports Liberal Education that:

  • increases the diversity of perspectives in the curriculum
  • enhances interdisciplinarity and draws students across collegiate boundaries
  • understands creative practices as modes of thought
  • requires students to understand the means by which knowledge is produced and to reflect critically upon them
  • asks students to contemplate, take responsibility for, and make decisions about their own education
  • encourages experimentation and the transfer of current research into the classroom 

CLA will be favorable toward proposals for Liberal Education redesign or curricular review that:

  • value, respect, and are driven by appropriate faculty disciplinary and methodological expertise
  • apply criteria developed in consultation with practitioners in appropriate disciplines
  • apply criteria that are kept current, reflect contemporary scholarship, and include regular revision
  • reflect the approaches and methods of a wide range of scholars and artists
  • are sensitive to the needs of diverse student communities, including transfer students
  • avoid onerous curricular review processes
  • avoid a level of complexity that impedes students’ progress to degree
  • apply standards consistently so that courses outside the university (e.g., transfer credits, Advanced Placement courses, learning abroad) are required to meet the same criteria as internal offerings
  • encourage wide gathering of feedback from stakeholders throughout the design process and allow substantial time for comments on draft proposals from interested parties, especially chairs, heads, and directors

The College appreciates the time and effort that the Committee will be devoting to this process and would be happy to elaborate on any of these items as the Committee’s work proceeds.