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The New Curriculum Part IV: Students React to New Curriculum

Of the 230 first-year students who were offered enrollment in the new curriculum last fall, 225 opted to register. Although the effectiveness of the new curricula will take years to assess, the overwhelming proportion of students interviewed for this article echoed the sixteen goals set out by the faculty in 2007.

Nathaniel Kukurudz (YC ’16), an international student, said, “Everything now is interconnected. Wherever we go we see that lots of intellectual fields are interwoven. That’s the point of these courses. We should be looking outside the confines of our own bubble and we should be knowledgeable about various and unfamiliar ideas. That’s what the courses are for and that’s what they have achieved.”

Other students echoed Kukurudz’s words. Shmuel Gabai (YC ’16) recognized that “the point of this new curriculum is to make me a well rounded person and it made me think in different perspectives.” Michael Alteras (YC ’16), alleged that “the biggest asset to the curriculum is that I am coming out with knowledge of the world which I would never know before […] Because I am in a liberal arts college and I haven’t decided on my major, this was a great way of exposing me to different kinds of knowledge. I got to try out a huge range of courses and ideas and that helped me think through what major I want to pursue.”

While some students, such as Ariel Ancer (YC ’16) complained about the taxing workload of some of his core requirements, he acknowledged, “I did enjoy learning about new things. I am learning things that I would never have learnt about.”

However, it was also clear from speaking to students that many were ignorant of the recalibration of the core requirements in particular and of the goals of a liberal arts education in general. One student said “It’s great that they are trying to broaden our knowledge of a spectrum of different things, but not to an extent that it is distracting me from my major. Its great for people who are undeclared, but for those who have a goal in mind, it can be difficult. “ Another thought it should be “a choice, not a mandate.”

The New Curriculum Part V: An Embattled Jewish Studies Department Resisted the New Curriculum