Curriculum Corner: Cornerstones to ECC

Curriculum Corner: Cornerstones to ECC

by CoryAnne Harrigan

The Engaged Citizenship Curriculum differs from Cornerstone Studies, but how is it different and where did it improve?

A general education program consists of core courses all students take to gain a foundation in the liberal arts. At Simpson, Cornerstone Studies has been the general education program for over thirty years. This program provides students with a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives—humanities, natural and social sciences, policy studies, and the arts—from which to consider the world.

In addition, Cornerstone focuses on key competencies: writing, language, and quantitative literacy. This curriculum has effectively prepared students for graduate studies and careers. However, in discussions of future goals for student learning, the faculty decided that Simpson’s general education program could provide greater emphasis on practical skills and deeper engagement with the question of what it means to be a citizen of the world. These discussions led to the development of the Engaged Citizenship Curriculum (ECC).

The main difference between Cornerstone and ECC courses is the way they are connected to departments. For example, in Cornerstone, a course that fulfills Scientific Perspective (Cornerstone 2) most often comes from a department in the Natural Sciences: Biology and Environmental Science, Chemistry and Physics, Computer Science, or Mathematics.

In the ECC, courses selected for Scientific Reasoning (one Area of Engagement in the ECC) will come not only from the sciences, but from departments such as Psychology and Business. The establishment of criteria for courses in the ECC will ensure that Scientific Reasoning courses share common goals across disciplines: using problem solving, stating a hypothesis, designing a study, interpreting data, and drawing conclusions.

Another distinction between the two curricula is the emphasis on skills.

While Cornerstone requires students to meet minimum competency in three basic skill areas, the ECC will provide repeated opportunities for students to develop skills in twice as many categories through Embedded Skills courses. In addition to the existing competency areas, courses will stress skills of leadership, critical thinking, information literacy, and oral communication. All of these skills are essential for student success within and beyond the classroom.