Curriculum Review Process
Central to undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame is the core curriculum, a set of required courses intended to provide every undergraduate with a common foundation in learning. These requirements play a critical role in the University's goal to "offer an unsurpassed undergraduate education that nurtures the formation of mind, body, and spirit."
Because these requirements signify and determine the knowledge, skills, and dispositions every Notre Dame student should have upon graduation, the University undertakes a thorough review of its core curriculum every 10 years.
That review process began in August 2014, when University President John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Provost Thomas G. Burish appointed a Decennial Core Curriculum Review Committee to review the current requirements and deliberate possible changes. The committee was co-chaired by John McGreevy, professor of history and I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and Michael Hildreth, professor of physics and associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Science; it also included 11 other faculty members from across the University.
The committee was charged with with leading a campus-wide review of Notre Dame’s existing core curriculum, deliberating on possible changes to these general education requirements. The committee consulted as widely as possible, given the many faculty, students, programs, and departments directly involved in general education requirements.
Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, committee members surveyed students and alumni, met with faculty groups across campus--including College Councils and the Faculty Senate, and hosted open forums for faculty in November 2014, January 2015, and February 2015. In spring 2015, the CCRC also requested that faculty in every academic department hold discussions about the current core curriculum and share ideas with the committee about how it might be improved. The committee issued a draft report in November 2015 based on its analysis of the ideas and feedback gathered during the 2014-15 academic year.
During the next phase of the core curriculum review—campus-wide faculty deliberation on the draft report through the spring 2016 semester—the committee encouraged every member of the faculty to read the report, consider it as a whole, and offer comments on how it might be improved. The draft report was presented for review to each college and school through its college council or equivalent body and each academic department was asked to submit comments to the committee. A number of outreach events took place, including a University-wide forum in February 2016.
Taking into account all assessments and comments gathered, the committee issued a final report in August 2016, which was presented to each College Council (or equivalent body), Faculty Senate, Academic Council, and, ultimately, the University president during the fall 2016 semester.
On November 7, 2016, the Academic Council made a few minor, friendly amendments and approved this final version of the report. It contains the most significant changes to Notre Dame’s core curriculum since the late 1960s. The next step is a transition committee that will be charged with moving the implementation process forward. The goal is for the new core curriculum to be in place for the undergraduates entering Notre Dame in fall 2018.