Gen Ed History

Efforts at general education reform

1996-1999: Large-scale general education revision effort

Proposal involved several elements:

  • 33 credit hours
  • A “director” of general education at Rice
  • Freshman seminar to provide students a common intellectual experience
  • 10 “Ways of Knowing” courses (2 courses in each of first 3 areas; 4 courses in last):
    • Approaches to the past
    • Encounters with Literature and the Arts
    • Interpreting Human Behavior: Individual, Social, and Cultural
    • Engaging Science and Technology
  • “Required Capacities” courses (could overlap with major and “Ways of Knowing”)
    • Writing: 1 writing-intensive course each year
    • Oral Discussion and Presentation: 1 course across 4 years
    • Quantitative Reasoning: 1 course across 4 years

Proposal failed to pass a vote of the full faculty in 1999.

2007-2009: Committee on the Rice Undergraduate Program (CRUP) Initiative

A 3-part plan to evaluate general education created by Dean of Undergraduates, Robin Forman

  • Two reports reached the faculty senate.
  • A key contribution was a list of 11 visions for Rice as reported in CRUP I final report
2011: Creation of Program in Writing and Communication (PWC) and First-Year Writing Intensive Seminars (FWIS)

Proposal to create a writing center and first-year writing seminars for all students

Initiative supported by Faculty Senate in 2011

2016: Reduction in semester credit hour limits

Proposal to reduce semester credit hour caps from 20/24 to 17/18/21 (i.e., 17 max for first-year students, 18 max for returning students who can petition for up to 21 hours max)

Passed by Faculty Senate in 2016

2017: Reduction in distribution requirement credit hours

Proposal to reduce the total number of courses required for distribution

  • Reduced total distribution requirements from at least 4 courses (36 total credit hours) per area to at least 3 courses (27 total credit hours) per area
  • Required a FWIS outside of distribution hours (3 credit hours)
  • Creation of School Course Review process to reevaluate distribution courses every year

Passed by Faculty Senate in 2017

2020: Eliminating the 60-credit hour rule

Proposal to eliminate the university requirement that students complete at least 60 credit hours outside of major requirements (courses can be in the major but cannot double count)

Passed by Faculty Senate in 2020

2021: Working Group on General Education

Working Group was created in 2020 to reevaluate general education at Rice more broadly.

Proposed the following recommendations:

  • Reaffirm Rice’s commitment to one set of general education requirements for all undergraduate students.
  • Establish an “Owner” of General Education.
  • Initiate a faculty-led and inclusive process of developing a model to achieve and communicate greater coherence across the Distribution curriculum. Of several possibilities studied, we suggest that “areas of inquiry” holds the most promise.
  • Initiate a process of re-examining prerequisites for Distribution courses, with the goals of reducing most or all of the prerequisites from Distribution courses as well as requiring that each department offer a minimum number of Distribution courses in a given academic year.
  • Initiate a process of re-examining Rice’s majors with the highest credit hour requirements, with the goal of reducing the required credit hours for such majors.
  • Initiate an action plan for the inclusive and vigorous engagement of stakeholders of our general education.

Passed by Faculty Senate in 2021

2022: Addition of Analyzing Diversity requirement

Proposal to require that all students complete and pass one course of three hours or more in the area of Analyzing Diversity. Such courses primarily focus on how difference is understood across human societies, on how those understandings have changed over time, and on the consequences of those understandings for human development. Courses meeting this requirement equip students with foundational know-how in the critical study of matters related to diversity, and prepare them to apply such knowledge in other areas of study as they advance at the university.

Passed by Faculty Senate in 2021