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Justice and sustainability at the core: new curriculum changes set for Fall 2023

In 2019, a group of students hosted a protest advocating for changes to the curriculum. Concordia faculty and staff has been working to meet the needs suggested by students and will be implementing these changes in Fall 2023. These changes will affect all future students of Concordia and will affect how Cobbers will actively engage in the world indefinitely.   

Two new classes will be replacing the current US Diversity and Global Diversity course requirements. These new classes will have a specific emphasis on justice and sustainability. Nearly all first-year classes will be revamped to reflect the adjustment to the core. Current students will be able to complete their course requirements before current classes become phased out of the system. 

There are two committees seeking public conversation on the curriculum of the two added classes. The Justice Course Committee meets once a week to discuss different topics pertaining to the implementation of this new core requirement. A variety of staff and students makes up the participants of these committees.  

Fanny Roncal Ramierz led a session on Thursday, February 23 to engage students in discussion around the implementation of a new justice class. Only five students showed up to offer suggestions for what to include in the new curriculum.  

Rameriez explained that the new course will center around racial justice issues and will help to give students a broader perspective and ability to talk about these issues in a comfortable environment.  

Another thing that the Justice Course Committee values is building a wealth of knowledge and giving students a tool box in which they can academically deconstruct issues of justice in their future lives.  

Miranda Travis is a sophomore sociology major that has plans to pick up criminology and psychology majors in the upcoming school year. She is a student currently serving on the Justice Course Committee.  

She was first interested when SGA made an announcement calling for interested students to join the two committees. With being interested in specifically justice since even before her high school years, she thought she would give it a try to be on the committee board.  

For the course, Travis would like to see the class being discussion based with lots of different types of course content. 

Inquiry seminars will also be replaced with a different class called Engaged Citizenship and will take place at 9:20 a.m. on MWFs. This class will interfere with the fall semester schedule if freshmen are in morning classes. Instead of having 8:00 a.m. classes, Concordia strives to reserve that time for faculty meetings. Tuesday and Thursday 8:00 a.m. classes will not be affected. Something to note is that faculty can specially request the 8:00 a.m. time slot, but will be denied if the class is meant for first years.  

Joe Whittaker has been a biology professor for nearly 12 years. He is serving as a co-director of Enviromental and Sustainability studies and is currently the chair of the core committee. He has been serving on the Core Committee for a total of three years.  

Whittaker explains that a couple of years ago students held a protest for more relevant classes. Since then, this committee has been trying to address those needs and concerns for future generations of students. 

To start the process of changing the core, they picked themes that allow students to see the connections within the different courses and across disciplines, which are justice and sustainability.  

The sustainability course will dig into the environmental concerns, along with looking into public policies and how that influences climate action. The core committee hopes to ease the climate anxiety that students feel.  

“With this new core, you would come in as a freshman and take this engaged citizenship seminar and the idea is that each of the seminars replacing the inquiring will have a theme either relating to justice or sustainability or both,” said Whittaker.  

Another change that is occurring is the changes to the traditional IWC and IOC courses.  

“I think its going to be a communications 100 course instead of IOC…and its going to be variable topic,” said Whittaker. Although he has not seen the final curriculum for the revised classes, he knows that the curriculum committee has already approved the new changes.  

All of these changes are expected to go into effect starting Fall 2023.  

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