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Possible changes to BELL Core draw concern from professors

Belmont is considering reducing the number of English, philosophy and language courses future students will be required to take to graduate as part of the university’s BELL Core.

The proposal would change the humanities requirement of Belmont’s BELL Core program, giving students more freedom to take classes that appeal to them and providing more options to each major while cutting down the number of humanities credits required.

A committee for general education requirement was created to make decisions regarding the BELL Core requirements. Made up of representatives with relevant knowledge of Belmont’s education, the faculty was encouraged to be inclusive and open to ideas proposed and do research concerning the changes.

The proposal would reduce the humanities requirements for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees by about half. Some humanities faculty members are concerned the changes would affect their class sizes and negatively affect the general education of future students.

This would affect the teachers by making them “market ourselves to students more aggressively,” said philosophy professor Andrew Davis.

“This is negative from my point of view,” Davis said.

Humanities classes are typically filled by students trying to fulfill their general education requirements. By changing the requirement, the class numbers will be cut substantially, said Davis.

“This would allow you to pursue other interests. But it does not allow you to break with your habits of learning. It does not encourage you to go into a place where you are less comfortable,” said Davis. “I personally think that going into classrooms where you are less comfortable is where the most growth is going to happen the fastest.”

By changing the hours required for students, the hope is for students to take classes more appealing to them and their majors. For example, instead of taking philosophy, a student could take philosophy of music, said Davis.

“I think this change would give students the freedom and opportunity to pursue other classes of interest, instead of just checking a box,” said junior Steven Henry.

Henry supports the proposal and sees a strong future for students.

“Honors students already do not have to take the required classes, and I think they are still receiving a quality, well-rounded education. I believe students and professors gain more when the students in the class want to be there and aren’t simply taking a class because they have to,” said Henry.

Dr. Peter Kuryla, a history professor, is concerned advisers will not be able to help students dig to find these classes they want.

“Advisers might too quickly allow students to take the path of least resistance and not take that hard discerning process where you figure out what you really want and value,” said Kuryla.

Students’ education should be shaped by something other than “market forces” and Belmont could be surrendering to these outside forces, Kuryla said.

“By making it required, you surprise students who did not want to be there in the beginning, and they can change their ideas of what they really want to do with their life,” said Kuryla.“If it’s not required, then students won’t do it.”

The faculty senate requested the committee responsible for the proposal review the recommendations made in the previous meeting for the General Education Council. The committee will have its next meeting on March 17.

This article was written by Shelby Vandenburgh.

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