Oregon State University is moving forward to significantly revise the classes required for undergraduate students in an effort to better provide students with the skills, knowledge and experiences that will contribute to their success during and after college.
“OSU’s new general education curriculum was designed to engage the 21st-century learner,” said Baccalaureate Core Director McKenzie Huber. “It will lead to improved educational experiences, stronger recruitment and retention of first year and transfer students, and better post-graduation outcomes.
The new curriculum, known as the general education curriculum, requires fewer credit hours to complete, eases the transition to OSU for transfer students, introduces new elements focused on students’ transitions to the university and career readiness and provides an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusive excellence, said Huber. The revision is an update to a 30-year-old curriculum known as the university’s baccalaureate core.
The curriculum changes were approved by OSU’s Faculty Senate at its October meeting and are anticipated to be launched in 2025. Before then, an implementation steering committee, led by Alix Gitelman, vice provost for academic affairs and senior vice provost, will guide moving to the new curriculum.
Courses in the new curriculum include subjects that Huber said are essential to help students develop skills to tackle world problems, build a foundation for lifelong learning, discover new perspectives, and become engaged community members. The courses include subjects from natural and social sciences, arts and the humanities, and are taken in addition to courses students need to complete their academic majors.
The curriculum revision has been in the works for three years, and Huber said it seeks to better align required foundational courses at OSU with Oregon’s Core Transfer Map, a block of credits that students can retain while transferring between higher education institutions to fulfill general education requirements.
Huber said that the curriculum changes are informed by changing student demographics. Transfer enrollment at Oregon State is up 40% over the last decade, and the number of students of color has almost doubled from 10 years ago and now makes up almost 30% of Oregon State’s overall enrollment.
“Approximately a third of all undergraduates are now transfer students,” Huber said. “Transfer students have unique needs, especially around course transferability. OSU strives to be student-friendly so that the university can recruit and retain students and help assure they graduate.”
New categories included in the revised general education curriculum include a transitions course, focused on building community, promoting well-being, supporting effective academic behaviors and goal setting; career development; a two-course social justice sequence; and a problem-solving synthesis course focused on teamwork and socially important problems.
The career development portion is especially crucial and unique, Huber said, because it focuses on the integration of career and professional development into every students’ academic experience, helping them hone skills and gain experiences applicable to future jobs.
“Through deep and integrative experiences, OSU’s general education curriculum will meet students where they are in their educational journey and equips them for meaningful, lifelong learning,” Huber said. “General education courses will now be designed to foster student potential to innovate and change the world by solving complex problems, adapting to change, and becoming community members in a global society.”