by Simone Tharkur.
Some students are for it, others are against it, and the rest are just plain confused. If you’re a current CUNY undergraduate student, you’ll want to get the story straight.
Under New York State Education Law, CUNY is considered one university and has to align its transfer curricula for all colleges. Due to this law and CUNY’s high transfer rates, the Board of Trustees established Pathways, in late June of this year, to correct the university’s patchwork system.
Pathways is designed to standardize and produce a uniform curriculum that all CUNY colleges will use. The system was first created for transfer students who moved between CUNY colleges and as a result, lost credits and delayed graduation. But now, Pathways will be implemented and used by all CUNY undergraduate students starting in the Fall of 2013.
Although, it seems like a perfect solution, Pathways’ formula is stirring up controversy amongst CUNY students and faculty. In order to understand both sides, we break it down.
How does the system work?
Here at City, we have eight degree programs, and each has its own general requirements. For students working toward a BFA, BA or BS, general requirements can range from 45-57 credits. Engineering majors and students enrolled in City’s Sophie Davis program also have specific requirements.
The Pathways formula is based on a new General Education Framework that will cap all general education requirements to 42 credits, in order to create a more coherent standard for all CUNY colleges.
Okay, the new General Education Framework will be called the “Common Core” and will total 30 credits. The other portion of the General Education Framework will be specific to each baccalaureate college and called the “College Option,” consisting of an additional 12 credits. The “College Option” courses will vary according to a student’s degree in progress. Most likely, these 12 credits will be completed with courses that work towards a student’s degree, as opposed to taking non-major course requirements.
What does it mean for transfers?
All CUNY undergraduates will be required to complete the 30 credit Common Core courses in order to graduate with an A.A., A.S., or baccalaureate degree. Students who complete courses within the Common Core will achieve partial or full completion of the Common Core, and that certification will transfer among all CUNY colleges. This means that if a student has completed any of the 30 Common Core credits at any CUNY school, those courses and their full credit amount will transfer to any other CUNY school.
So what’s the controversy about?
Some students and many professors think Pathways devalues education and “dumbs down” the curriculum. The “dumbing down” comes from the trimming of courses once Pathways is in full effect. Angry CUNY faculty members have created petitions to stop Pathways from taking effect. A reduction in core classes, they say, will result in less rounded students.
Where does Pathways stand?
As of now, Pathways is steaming ahead. The Chancellor, Council of Presidents, the University Faculty Senate, and the University Student Senate have convened a Task Force of faculty, students, and academic administrators to create a structure of courses. A series of scheduled meetings to approve courses will follow in order to get the new curriculum up and running by Fall of 2013.