By Anne Broeker, Comm ’96, communication specialist
For the class of 2022, the Marquette Core Curriculum looks and even feels different than its predecessor, the University Core of Common Studies.
“The past was more about distributional requirements — checking boxes — for the students,” says Dr. Sarah Felder, who served as director of the Core Curriculum until she was recently named acting dean of the Diederich College of Communication. “It was broad and flat. There were no natural connections between students, their majors and these core classes.”
Feldner and colleagues from across campus were charged with revising the Core Curriculum to be more meaningful and reflective of Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit mission, and give Marquette students the tools they need to make an impact in the world.
“Our students didn’t understand the requirements and began to ask why. What we came up with is designed to answer that,” Feldner says.
The new curriculum takes a thematic, tiered approach. These tiers — Foundations, Discovery and Culminating Course — are integrated throughout an undergraduate’s time at Marquette.
Additionally, a Methods of Inquiry course serves as a bridge that connects the Foundation tier courses in philosophy, theology and rhetoric with a multi-disciplinary examination of a theme within the Discovery Tier. Each MOI examines a single topic or question from the vantage point of three distinct disciplines.
For instance, students in one MOI course might study water quality, with three five-week sections taught by three different professors — experts in environmental science, water policy and ethics, respectively.
This approach prepares students for the Discovery Tier, which provides a deeper dive into multi-disciplinary examinations of five different themes: Basic Needs and Justice; Cognition, Memory and Intelligence; Crossing Boundaries: The Movement of People, Goods and Ideas; Individuals and Communities; and Expanding Our Horizons.
The third and final tier is a three-credit Culminating Course, “Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice” that emphasizes reflection and the application of the knowledge and skills developed in the core curriculum.
“There is a wholeness to the world and incorporating these themes through these tiers brings this big picture together,” Feldner emphasizes.
As Feldner has stepped aside to focus on the deanship, Dr. James Marten is shepherding the execution of the new Core Curriculum for its first cohort.
According to Marten, the revised curriculum incorporates disciplines across campus and asks students to look beyond the silos of their courses of study. It shows how disciplines across campus take on problems and solve them in distinctive ways.
“The core will help students make sense of why they go to college and help them connect the various classes they take in the core and their majors,” Marten says. “Our hope is that students will be more able to reflect and think about questions and answers while not being locked into one approach.”