Fairfield University prides itself on the liberal arts education which it is able to provide to its students. In order to deliver a well rounded education to students, Fairfield has relied on its core curriculum. This requirement was adopted in 1970, according to Fairfield University’s website, and has been in use ever since.
Recently, the University’s 2020 Presidential Task Force has been developing a replacement to the current core program, the “Magis” Core Curriculum.
The Fairfield University 2020 Presidential Task Force is a group of faculty, administrators, alumni and students who were tasked with reviewing the current core and making suggestions for change. This new core curriculum is the result of nearly four years of work from both the task force, various faculty groups, and two other core directors, associate professor of English, Robert Epstein, Ph.D. and professor of visual and performing arts, Lynne Porter.
According to Shannon M. Harding, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, some of the major changes proposed in the “Magis” curriculum will be a reduction in required classes from 20 to 15, and the courses will be provided in a tiered experience.
Junior Katie Santo, class of 2019 president and speaker of the senate shared her feelings on the “Magis” program, “I like that the school is trying to accommodate students’ busy schedules by downsizing the amount of required courses.”
The first tier, titled “orientation,” will consist of seven courses spanning English and rhetoric, religious studies, philosophy, history, mathematics, and modern/classical language, as well as a second class in mathematics or modern/classical language. Dr. Harding confirmed that students are expected to complete this first tier within their first two years at the University.
Dr. Harding went on to explain the second part of the “Magis” curriculum, “In the second tier, students will take eight additional courses: one in visual and performing arts, one in literature, two courses in religious studies, philosophy, or history, two courses in natural science and two courses in social and behavioral sciences.”
Upon completion of the second tier dubbed exploration, students will be required to partake in, “signature elements.” These include one interdisciplinary experience, three writing intensive courses and three social justice courses, with at least one of these courses focusing on race studied in combination with gender or class. However, requirements for some of these courses can be fulfilled in the tiered experience. Additionally, one writing course and one social justice course can be worked into students’ majors.
With the core that is currently in place, the requirements vary between schools. One of the largest changes in the “Magis” curriculum is that it will apply to all undergraduates, no matter which school they are in.
“I think it’s good that there is less required classes, however I appreciated the diversity of the program we currently have in place,” noted business student Paige Honeycomb ‘19.
Dr. Harding expects this new core to have a positive impact on campus enrollment here at Fairfield University, stating that, “The core retains a focus on humanistic liberal arts tradition that is at the heart of the University, but gives students more flexibility to take courses that interest them, meeting the needs of the twenty-first century learner.”
A task force is currently being established to finalize the program rollout, with the program being put into effect possibly as early as the class of 2023.