Mixed reviews: Students talk proposed Trinity curriculum

At its January meeting, the Trinity Curriculum Development Committee presented Arts & Sciences Council with the first draft of the new Trinity curriculum proposal. The Chronicle spoke with students about the new proposal, many of whom had mixed reactions about the proposal’s overhaul of first-year requirements and emphasis on the humanities:

First-year curriculum overhaul 

One of the most significant aspects of the proposal is the extensive restructuring of the current first-year curriculum, which would require all first-years to take three connected courses clustered around a central theme. 

These courses, including a small-group seminar, a writing class and another related course, are designed to expand upon the current FOCUS model and develop an intellectual community amongst first-year students.

First-year Drew Goodove, who did not participate in FOCUS, worried that the new changes may limit first-years' freedom to explore a wide breadth of topics as they enter college. He said that not doing FOCUS allowed him to explore a variety of classes, and the new model might not be best suited for students still undecided in their academic interests like him. 

First-year Georgia Lazarus, an intended public policy major who participated in FOCUS, disagreed. She said that FOCUS is a "great way to build close connections with faculty," and that it should remain an option for first-years. 

Lazarus noted that she shares Goodove’s concern about academic exploration. 

“I think part of what having a broad-based interdisciplinary education in your first year is to take a bunch of subjects that interest you,” Lazarus said. However, she believes this might not be possible under the proposed first-year curriculum changes. 

First-year Ursula Brown, a pre-med student and prospective classics major, said that she doesn't want to spend time taking a cluster when she is already taking a diverse slate of classes. 

Sophomore Anushka Srinivasan, a computer science major who participated in FOCUS, shared similar sentiments, adding that the new first-year curriculum changes might set specific majors behind in their coursework. 

“I wonder about your ability to do that and still stay on top of your graduation requirements or whatever programs you want to be doing while taking three classes that all have to be correlated to one specific topic,” she said. 

Emphasis on the humanities 

Another aspect of the proposal includes splitting the current Arts, Literature & Performance (ALP) requirement into two new categories — Creating and Experiencing Arts (CE) and Understanding Human Experience (HE) — to emphasize the importance of a humanities-intensive liberal arts education. 

Sophomore Sachi Gaonkar, a global health major, was highly critical of this move, arguing that students will have less space to take electives relevant to their studies or interests. 

Gaonkar also worries that creating two new categories out of the current ALP requirement will exacerbate current course offering shortages.

“I feel like a lot of people struggle to get an ALP and expanding that is just going to make people take classes they don't actually want to,” Gaonkar said. 

Unlike Gaonkar, Goodove sees this change as beneficial. “I'm in an acting class right now, which is an ALP requirement, and it's so much fun. I feel like those are the more fun classes that you get to broaden your horizon with classes you would not normally take,” he said. 

He did question whether doubling the ALP requirement from two classes to four was too excessive, but added that he "wouldn't mind taking more ALP classes." 

Srinivasan believes that expanding the ALP requirement is beneficial but wondered what classes would fall into the new categories because their descriptions seemed “a little bit broad.”

The Arts & Sciences Council will vote on the curriculum in April.

Jack Sabo profile
Jack Sabo

Jack Sabo is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.        


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