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Never Standing Still: The Evolution of Learning at Millsaps College

An Update Regarding the Core Curriculum Review

November 4, 2013

 

The evolution of ideas – and the evolution of learning – never has and never will stop at Millsaps College. For nearly 125 years, the students and faculty of Millsaps have gathered to question, challenge, propose and learn together. That tradition continues.

In Fall 2012, a team of dedicated faculty and staff began the process of reviewing and revising the Core Curriculum of Millsaps College. This type of systematic curriculum revision was last done beginning in the spring of 1990, with implementation of our current Core Curriculum in the fall of 1992. The work currently underway aims to maintain our commitment to a broad, liberal arts education while addressing the new and different challenges facing the students of the 21st century.

The Core Review Committee was charged with designing a Core Curriculum around the outcomes we expect for our students.  In particular, the Committee was asked to start by answering the questions, what should all Millsaps students be able to do and what should they all know?

The first step in their process was to identify a list of Student Learning Outcomes upon which to build the proposed new Core.  In October of 2012, the faculty overwhelmingly endorsed the list of four Student Learning Outcomes below.

  • Thinking and Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Integrative and Collaborative Learning
  • Problem Solving and Creative Practice

The Committee then set about constructing a coherent Core Curriculum that fosters these essential skills and abilities and aligns with the College’s Strategic Plan, “Across the Street and Around the Globe: Partnerships and Influence at Millsaps College.”

The work of the Core Review Committee is ongoing. An initial proposal was submitted to the faculty this fall for review, and a revised proposal incorporating their feedback and suggestions is currently in development. This proposal also seeks to preserve the best aspects of the Millsaps experience, including the Writing Program and key components of the Heritage Program.

In 1980, Dr. Richard Freis, Professor Emeritus of Classics, wrote a report titled “The Heritage Program,” in which he stated “interdisciplinary programs are notoriously unstable,” and noted that successful programs required “constant monitoring, periodic review, and revision when needed.” As Dr. Freis understood, periodic review of the Core ensures that the College’s curriculum remains vibrant, focused and relevant.

The value of the liberal arts remains at the heart of Millsaps College and our mission. Our vision is simply to build on the foundation of these values and prepare our students for success wherever their lives and careers take them. We are thankful for the thoughtful and passionate input of Millsaps alumni on this debate, and it will not be forgotten as the work of the Core Review Committee continues this year.

Sincerely,

Dr. S. Keith Dunn
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College