Barnard College, the all-women college affiliated with Columbia University, is considering slashing its foreign-language and science requirements while requiring students to complete a new requirement on “diversity,” the Columbia Spectator reported Friday.
Barnard is conducting an ongoing review of its core curriculum, which is expected to be fully implemented for the 2016-17 school year.
Just what would qualify for fulfilling the diversity requirement is unclear, although the Spectator said it would be “focused on local, global, and social issues.” It would also replace the more limited Cultures in Comparison requirement.
While diversity is on the ascent, hard sciences and foreign languages may be on their way out. The school is considering eliminating a required semester of lab science, as well as slashing its foreign language requirement from four semesters to two. During hearings last fall, several students had complained that taking mid-level classes to fulfill the language requirement was “too hard.” Others complained that the school’s core curriculum was too culturally restrictive.
Claire Bouchard, a Barnard senior, said the proposed requirement would allow students to escape an exclusively “Western” worldview.
“They’re iterating this call for a need to have a more critical perspective of what they’re looking at, and being given the tools to engage in conversation that may not necessarily fall in line with what a lot of the Western world would like to think, and at least be given the ability to don different lenses and to don different points of views,” Bouchard told the Spectator.
At least some students are fired up about this new direction.
“I’m really, really excited about the global and diversity directions that this is taking,” said sophomore Rebekah Dempsey. “Learning how to think and talk about things that are outside of our comfort zones, and being forced to do that by a liberal arts college, is really important to creating powerful women leaders.”
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