Foundations 2, year 2


Ryan Magalhaes

Professor Eduardo Magalhães teaches Foundation 2

by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

Simpson’s new Foundations 2 program saw significant changes from last year, which made for a better, though imperfect, second attempt.

Last year Simpson rolled out the modified Engaged Citizen Curriculum, which included two sections of foundations in the first and second semesters.

All freshmen are required to take the two modules, and transfer students are required to take Foundations 2. Foundations 2 is defined on the Simpson College website as exploring diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as well as justice.

Sal Meyers, professor of psychology and director of Foundations, says that they received many complaints about the Foundations 2 class last Spring.

“A number of students complained that ‘we already know about diversity, we don’t need to learn’,” she said, adding that students also didn’t like how the required spring class met four times a week. 

Professors also had struggles with teaching the class last year.

“It is stressful and difficult to teach a class that students resent,” Meyers said.

Brian Steffen, professor of communication, taught Foundations 2 last year and again this year.

While he had some complaints, he also thinks the course can be fixed.

“I don’t think there’s a fundamental problem with Foundations 2,” Steffen said. “It just needs improvement.”

Coming into this year, there were some changes that were made.

First, was changing the class to be only three days a week. Second, was having more faculty training. These changes, along with some experience, were hoped to improve the class.

“I think you need to teach a class five times in order to really get it down,” Steffen said. “And even then you’ll still change things.”

Despite Meyers’ best efforts, many students still didn’t like Foundations 2.

“I think it would make more sense for classes to be standardized,” first-year Kegan Trebilcock said. “The randomness of it feels unfair.”

Several students shared this sentiment.

“If this is going to be a required class, then it should have a standard,” first-year Jo Ann Martin said.

The current Foundations 2 program only includes one required book which is “Biased” by Jennifer Eberhardt. Professors have full discretion when the book is read and what projects are done in addition to it.

Despite mixed feelings, all students did enjoy certain aspects of Foundations 2.

“I like how we switched classes,” Martin said. “I get to meet new freshmen. It’s nice.”

Some students enjoyed the curriculum itself.

“It’s taught some really good and valuable lessons,” Morgan Svec said. Others were more critical.

“I can appreciate what they’re doing,” Zach Harnden said. “However, the two-semester [Both Foundation modules] class creates an extended burden for students and professors.”

This was another issue that arose last year and that many students this year still had.

“It’s taking away classes I could take for my major,” Martin said. “It’s not really helping me find a career.” This critique did not extend to Foundations 1.

“The first semester was more beneficial,” Trebilcock said. “It focused on exploring the campus and services, things I didn’t know as a newcomer.”

While students suggested Foundations 2 be dropped, Meyers says that idea is a non-starter.

“You use the feedback to make things better,” she said. “We are currently running three different general education programs. We can’t possibly run four.”

Steffen also doesn’t want Foundations 2 to be dropped.

“I think it’s a good course,” he said. “A lot of my colleagues don’t, but I like it.”

Other suggestions from students included standardization of the class, more out-of-classroom time and a more social focus on the class.

With Kedron Bardwell, the department chair of political science taking over as director of Foundations next year, the curriculum will need to continue changing in response to student feedback.