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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Weinberg debuts updated curriculum requirements

Illustration by Shveta Shah
Weinberg began the process to update their curriculum requirements in 2016.

Beginning with the class of 2027, freshmen will experience revamped foundational disciplines, a revised set of distribution requirements, a main-stay of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Motivated by faculty and student activism, the overhaul is the first update to the requirements in many years. Assistant Dean for Curriculum Assessment Laura Panko has been a leading figure in this change.

“The biggest difference is that everything is driven by learning objectives,” Panko said. “There was interest in taking an overall global view to figure out what was working, what could be improved and modernize it so that the school as a whole would have goals for the degree.”

The six new (foundational) disciplines have been termed natural sciences, empirical and deductive reasoning, social and behavioral sciences, historical studies, ethical and evaluative thinking, and literature and arts.

The requirements for two first-year seminars have also been updated, one becoming the college seminar and one becoming the first-year writing seminar. Additionally, two course requirements on perspectives and power, justice and equity have been introduced. A main goal of the modernization is to ensure graduating students are prepared to enter the workforce.

“What we’ve embarked on and are continuing to do is map course-level learning objectives to the foundational discipline learning objectives,” Panko said. “What we’re really focusing on is what we want students to be able to do as a result of taking courses or mapping in these areas.”

A driving factor in Weinberg freshman Carson Schmoldt’s decision to attend NU was the fact that the Weinberg curriculum appeals to a broad range of interests.

Schmoldt is taking “The American Way of War” this quarter in the political science department.

“Having some extra classes I have to take is nice, (because) it could lend perspectives on something I might want to do that I didn’t know existed if I didn’t have to do the requirement,” Schmoldt said.

Weinberg freshman Eshaan Chandani is currently taking a psychology course called “Music and the Mind” in the psychology department.

Chandani said he will be able to apply this knowledge later in his life.

“With my class specifically, I’ll be able to use it in my life,” Chandani said. “The things we’re discussing are just nice, philosophical things to know as a human going through the world.”

The update process — which entailed committee groups and private subcommittees — was initialized in 2016, and the plan was endorsed in 2019. But, the modification project was temporarily put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team compared Weinberg’s curriculum to that of Northwestern’s peer institutions and considered how best to support the selected overall learning goals.

“It’s been great to see the work everyone put into really taking a refreshing look at their courses,” Panko said. “Having it all come together for the new students has been very satisfying … They’ll have more of a sense of what skills they’re going to carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lmschroeder_

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