Students are required to take 12 core courses during their time at Butler. Collegian file photo.
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From global historical studies courses to first year seminars, Butler University mandates students take part in several core classes before they graduate. Although these courses are set up to develop key skills, some students have noted the courses are not always of the same workload despite all counting for the same credit.
When first-year communication sciences and disorders student Emma Stockrahm compares her FYS course load with her friends, she tends to agree there is a significant difference, but would not define the class as easier or more complicated.
“In my FYS, Redefining Normal, we do a lot of deep discussion on film as well as little articles to read, compared to my friends in other FYS courses that have 100 pages of reading for each class,” Stockrahm said. “I wouldn’t say this course is easier than other classes, it is just more of an analytical course compared to a text-heavy first year seminar.”
The core classes are designed around these key skills to help students develop strong written and oral communication, the ability to think critically and creatively, ethical and compassionate consideration of individual difference, and the ability to adapt quickly in this increasingly diversified and globalized world, according to Butler’s core curriculum website.
Stockrahm said she has already taken many of the core classes.
“I believe there is good and bad to the core requirement,” Stockrahm said. “While there are several benefitting factors to the core that shape us as students to build on important classes for our major, some I view as irrelevant.”
James McGrath, faculty director of core curriculum, said that all core courses focus in the student learning objectives specified for the part of the core in question.
“When constructing my class, I am specifically interested in putting forth a diverse variety of voices from authors of different voices, gender and sexual orientations,” Chris Speckman, first year seminar professor, said. “I think that is one of the ways that FYS can help build a better campus through using the classroom as a space to introduce students to various perspectives.”
Because the core curriculum states all Butler students must participate in the 12 various requirements, students have the option to choose what class under each requirements interests them most. Although core professors must follow guidelines along the curriculum, they are permitted to construct their courses however they prefer.
William Walsh, professor in Butler’s English department, has experience in teaching the GHS courses Revolutionary Europe and Nigeria and China and the Islam.
“I have been doing this forever, so I am not much supervised,” Walsh said. “The university expects me to teach the units responsibly; we do have a set of objectives for the GHS enterprise. Classes are surely comparable, but it is an individual’s responsibility to teach the audience he [or] she has.”
Butler University requires all core professors comply with the learning objectives when teaching the course. As long as they follow these mandated requirements, they are allowed to be as creative as possible.
According to Walsh’s course syllabus, GHS courses challenge students to think globally, understand that all cultures are diverse, dynamic, and interactive with the world, and develop learning skills with critical thinking and writing.
When some students compare two courses of the same requirement, they admit they are not equal amounts of work. Max Tucker, sophomore entrepreneurship and innovation major, has taken both GHS 208 – China and Islamic Middle East and GHS 206 – Resistance and Reaction: Colonialism and Post Colonialism in Africa.
“The Islam and China class required much less reading with much lighter homework loads,” Tucker said. “GHS 208 had two large research papers, whereas GHS 206 had weekly papers due over each book as well as online discussion forums.”
All core professors possess the free reign to make their class how they want it to be, which explains why the course load varies across core curriculum depending on the professor. The professor will create the syllabus in a way that fits the students learning the material of the class.
“What is great about Butler is that they allow you the freedom to be creative with the class,” Speckman said. “As long as the core standards are followed, I then get to reflect my interests.”
Although course material across the core curriculum varies, main objectives are always kept in mind, aiming to teach students about the bigger picture.
The core website states, “At Butler University, we built our core around the skills students will need to be successful, both during their time in college, and in their careers post-graduation.”