Students entering the fall 2012 semester will be required to take only one laboratory science as opposed to two, as part of their general education.
The change is part of the new GE policy that passed the Academic Senate on Jan. 26.
The new policy will immediately affect all new and transfer students entering the fall 2012 semester, but no decision has been made how and if it will be implemented among current students, according to Keith Freesemann, chair of the general education governing committee.
A re-examination of Cal State Long Beach’s GE policy began in fall 2009, according to Freesemann.
The committee was assigned “to address the fiscal implication and resources on campus relative to faculty and work load and student success,” he said.
“I’m very happy about the changes the Senate approved and also the additional changes made,” Freesemann said.
According to Freesemann, the science laboratory change is consistent with the majority of the Cal State Universities and community colleges’ GE path.
One of the main reasons for the change was the different set of requirements for transfer students and native students.
Students who had gone to community college, got GE certified and then transferred to Cal State Long Beach would only have to take one laboratory science. Students, however, who came from community college but weren’t GE certified would still be held accountable for the second lab, according to Freesemann.
Lynn Mahoney, associate vice president for undergraduate studies, said the limited amount of lab sections in comparison to student demand was another reason for the change.
“Many of our life sciences GE courses are also required for majors (particularly for students in the College of Health & Human Services),” Mahoney said via email. “As hard as all have tried, we just can’t offer enough lab sections to meet all these demands.”
According to Mahoney, there are some non-lab GE science classes under an old category, B3, and most of them are physical sciences. Mahoney said the General Education Governing Committee would be working to get those courses approved for life sciences and physical sciences categories.
“Some of the departments are working on creating non-lab sciences to help, but this may take a year or two,” Mahoney said.
In addition to the laboratory science requirement, departments will now be allowed to develop capstones specifically for their major and then get it approved as a GE course, according to Freesemann.
Students will also be required to take a writing intensive capstone as one of their three required capstone classes.
Writing intensive courses will require students to write 5,000 words over the course of the semester as well as give students an opportunity to write, receive feedback and then rewrite, according to Freesemann.
More than 60 percent of students’ grades in these classes will be based on their writing. The writing intensive capstone can be in addition to another capstone or it could be one course by itself.
The new GE policy also made changes to category D, social sciences and citizenship.
The category currently requires 12 units. The new policy changes the requirement to nine units: three units in Citizenship — U.S. History, three units in Constitution and American Ideals, and three units in Social Sciences. According to Mahoney, this mirrors most community colleges.
Senior English major James Suazo said he is concerned with the university basing some of its policy on community colleges.
“The administration saw a large pressure to change our GE pattern because of the issues concerning credit earned by transfer students,” Suazo said via email. “It worries me when our university opens the door to letting the community colleges dictate our policies and curriculum.”
Changes in the arts and humanities category, Category C, have also been made.
Students will take three units in the arts, three in the humanities and an additional three units in either the humanities or the arts. Current GE policy calls for students to take three units in the arts and six units in the humanities in two out of the categories of literature, philosophy and foreign languages.
Associated Students Inc. President Lucy Nguyen said she heard positive student feedback regarding the GE policy. Nguyen said many students had made their voices heard in regards to GE policy, including writing letters.
“It wouldn’t have gone so smoothly without their input,” Nguyen said.
Mahoney said she thinks the new policy is “great for students.”
“It maintains our commitment to exposing students to a breadth of disciplines but is simpler,” Mahoney said.