BYU streamlines general education program

The general education program for students at BYU has been strengthened and streamlined, according to John S. Tanner, associate academic vice president.

Revisions in the program include a reduction in the health/physical education requirement and the elective requirement that will reduce the total student load by 3.5 credit hours.General Education and Honors Dean Paul Cox said: "Too often in the past students saw general education as an obstacle rather than an opportunity. We are confident that this new program will help them learn not only how to earn a living, but also how to live a richer and more abundant life."

Beginning in September this year, all current and entering students will be able to choose whether to complete the old or the new program. In the fall of 1996, all entering students will be subject to the new program.

"The change I am most delighted with," Brother Cox said, "is the universality of the new program. In the past, there were 13 different general education programs that varied according to the student's major. The new G.E. program is the same for all BYU students, regardless of major."

Changes in general education requirements come after 18 months of study by the Faculty General Education Council, an advisory body with representatives from each of the colleges. The council also took into account advice and research from the General Education Student Advisory Council.

General education at BYU focuses on three areas: 1. Academic skills such as mathematics, writing, and foreign languages that help students throughout their college careers and beyond; 2. Core classes, including American Heritage, biology, physical science, and history of civilization, which cover broad areas of human knowledge; and 3. Elective courses that help students explore various disciplines.

The number of required elective courses will be reduced from four to three. These consist of a course from the natural sciences, one from the social/behavioral sciences, and one from arts and letters. The health/physical education requirement will be reduced by one half-credit course.

In addition, major features include the following:

  • Students can take the required two-semester history of civilization course in any sequence and from different instructors. This gives them more freedom in scheduling classes and avoids delays caused by having to wait for certain instructors and certain times.
  • The new program offers more intensive sequences of courses as alternatives to the core classes. History majors, for example, could take History 120 and Political Science 110 (or Economics 110) instead of American Heritage, or science majors could take specified rigorous physics, chemistry or geology courses rather than Physical Science 100.
  • The foreign language/advanced math requirement will add a music equivalent. This is not "an easy way out," said Brother Tanner. The music alternative will easily require as much effort as mastering a foreign language.

The university also plans to enhance the quality of general education offerings and improve rewards for superb general education teachers, said Brother Tanner.

"We have some of our best faculty members teaching G.E.," he said, "and we plan to ensure that strong performance in teaching G. E. matters in faculty hiring and promotion."

Brother Cox agreed. "We want our G.E. classes to be so good that the courses will be the highlight of students' BYU experience."