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Curricular Processes at Southeast

More than a decade ago in its commentary on the missions of the college curriculum, a report from the Carnegie Foundation emphasized that, "The curriculum is the major statement any institution (of higher education) makes about itself, about what it can contribute to the intellectual development of students, about what it thinks is important in its teaching service to society." The Foundation went on to say that the curriculum deserved more attention than it had gotten in the previous decade. Although colleges and universities were reacting to the enormous internal and external pressures on their curricula, they were not developing coherent educational policies regarding them. Such policies need to have a higher priority, argued the Foundation, so that the curriculum could become more the result of sustained thought and less the consequence of pressures. Higher education ought to demonstrate that it can think about what the curriculum needs as well as respond to what is demanded of it.

Since the early 1980's, the faculty and administrators at Southeast have endeavored to bring coherence to its curriculum. The first step in that direction was the revision of the general education program that began in 1980. Over the next seven years, a faculty committee reviewed the literature on general education; consulted with the faculty, students, and alumni; developed a set of programmatic objectives; and designed a curriculum. The result was the General Education program, a four-year, forty-eight credit hour curriculum founded on nine broad objectives.

While this university-wide curriculum effort was underway, several other programs underwent massive revision. The teacher education and business program revisions were probably the most extensive. The teacher education revision involved total restructuring of the undergraduate education program into a four-year field-based curriculum. Business program revisions involved a restructuring of most majors along with the establishment of a core of courses for the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in accordance with the standards of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. Altogether, the program review process led to over fifty program discontinuations and significant program changes in most departments. In the Department of Biology, for example, programs were discontinued in botany and zoology. German as a major was eliminated in the Department of Foreign Languages. Revisions in the Department of Mass Communication entailed the establishment of a common core and the addition and modification of options. The list could continue as the changes permeate the entire campus and reflect the dedication of the faculty to upgrading and enhancing the curricular offerings.

As these programs began to take shape in the mid-and late-eighties, Southeast also initiated an effort to make its degree programs cohesive by developing definitions for the various components of the curriculum. Through extensive discussions in departments, colleges, and the Academic Council, representatives of the faculty and administration together defined the bachelor's, master's, and specialist's degrees, the minor, and other curricular components, such as programmatic option and area of specialization for the elementary and middle school/junior high school education programs. They also adopted the definitions of associate degrees that were contained in the transfer guidelines for Missouri colleges and universities.

In addition to defining the structural components of the curriculum, the faculty and administrative representatives sought to establish clear distinctions among lower division, upper division, and graduate courses as well as to formally associate particular numerical categories with these course levels. All of these definitions were intended to serve as guidelines for designing new courses and programs, and for revising existing ones.

The results of this effort to ensure coherence and continuity in the curriculum of the University as presented in this Guide. The first part is devoted to the definitions of the curricular components. It is followed by a description of the curricular process including procedures for the planning, development, and approval of new courses and programs. In addition, there is a brief discussion of institutional and statewide review of academic programs, followed by the steps for obtaining approval of new programs from the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) and a list of CBHE definitions.


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