First years to begin Pathways curriculum

The Pathways curriculum, in design for the past three and a half years, has been implemented for the first time with first year students this semester. The curriculum requires students follow six pathways to complete their education at the university, with a number of additional options relating to second majors, minors and experiential learning. The curriculum is required of all first year students, though sophomores and upperclassmen have the opportunity to use the pathways curriculum instead of the past common curriculum system to complete their education at the university if they choose to do so.

“Our faculty has done an amazing job over the past year and a half to complete the new curriculum,” associate vice president for academic affairs and associate professor of English Duane Coltharp said. “Starting a curriculum from scratch gives everyone the opportunity to step back and view the big picture.”

The requirements for the new curriculum were approved in late January of 2014. Following this approval, faculty began the process of populating these requirements with new courses and revised courses that existed from the prior common curriculum. The first of the six requirements for the new curriculum is that students take part in the first year experience. Each topic within the first year experience was created with the input of at least six faculty members, according to Trinity Magazine, and every first year student will enter the semester enrolled in one topic. These topics are taught by two different professors throughout the week, and provide students with six hours. Coltharp noted that students he had worked with during their registration had less to concern themselves with, having begun with six hours to build from. The other five requirements include approaches to creation and analysis, the core capacities, the interdisciplinary cluster, the major and fitness education.

“The discussions of the new curriculum were probably the most intense and productive collective effort I have participated in at Trinity,” coordinator of the first year experience and associate professor of English Willis Salomon said. “[Knowing] we could and should channel that talent [on the faculty] into a new, interdisciplinary curriculum was both exciting and daunting.”

New courses were created and prior existing courses were revised in order to fulfill the requirements for the new pathways. Though some new courses will be available to students who entered the university earlier and function beneath the common curriculum system, not all of them will be made available unless these students convert to the Pathways curriculum. In addition to this, some courses within both systems have been shifted from three hours to four hours. Salomon said that, for the English department, these longer credit hours will allow for more research and extended writing projects. These extended hours have caused some discussion among students seeking to complete their majors without being charged for exceeding 18 hours a semester, and this matter is still in discussion.

“Teaching and refining this curriculum will be both exciting and rewarding,” Salomon said.

As this semester marks the first time the new curriculum has been implemented, adjustments and revisions will be made to the curriculum as needed moving forward.

“The faculty commitment to the new curriculum has been outstanding,” Coltharp said. “We have an excellent opportunity for faculty to rethink and step back.”