Thursday September 29, 2011

An Uncommon Curriculum

The University's new undergraduate Common Academic Program will reflect Catholic, Marianist values and cut across all majors.

The University of Dayton will add 45 full-time faculty members over the next three to four years to help launch the first comprehensive reform of the general education program in more than 20 years, Provost Joseph Saliba said at the fall faculty meeting Sept. 23.

"There is no more important job at this or any other university than delivering a sound, challenging and meaningful curriculum. This is literally our raison d'être. Nothing else we do matters very much if we don't do that well," said Saliba, encouraging all faculty to step up and help build and implement the new undergraduate curriculum.

More than 100 professors have developed 28 pilot courses that will make up part of the Common Academic Program, slated to replace the humanities-based general education requirements in 2013.  As a cornerstone of CAP, every undergraduate will graduate with a broad education based on Catholic, Marianist values and the ability to answer one simple question that cuts across all majors: What does it mean to be human?

Saliba asked faculty to expand the new curriculum by incorporating global learning in every major and rethinking language education. He also requested help in renaming CAP to reflect its "contemporary, innovative and distinctive approach to learning."

As approved by the Academic Senate in April 2010, CAP calls for all students to excel not just in their majors but to graduate with:

  • an experience of producing a body of artistic, scholarly or community-based work for public presentation;
  • knowledge of major faith traditions, including familiarity with Catholicism;
  • skills in community building within their workplaces, homes and neighborhoods;
  • practical wisdom for addressing problems;
  • an ability to evaluate critically and imaginatively the challenges of the times;
  • an appreciation for diversity through an understanding of the cultures, histories, times and places of others around the world; and
  • an ability to see their lives as a vocation or calling.

"We are not merely tinkering with or tweaking what we already have," Saliba said. "We are building a new educational structure that will be a major feature of our identity as a University. …This is our future and the future of many who will come after us. In short, what we are doing through the medium of curriculum building is nothing less than changing the culture of our University."

As the University of Dayton continues to attract a growing number of international students, Saliba called for stronger international partnerships, an improved study abroad program and more language courses. "I ask that global learning be infused through every academic discipline," he said. "Our students will need to interact knowledgeably and respectfully with people from around the world."

Saliba described CAP as "an approach to learning that is designed to cultivate a lifetime of thoughtfulness, critical thinking and unending curiosity.

"We are in the business," he told faculty, "of changing lives."

For more information, contact Teri Rizvi at 937-229-3255 or