By: Elisheva Kohn  | 

Citing ‘Confusion,’ Curriculum Committee Merges Two SCW General Education Categories

Two categories of Stern College for Women (SCW) general education requirements — “Foundations of History, Philosophy & Social Sciences” and “Contemporary US and Global Perspectives” — were merged to form the new “Foundations and Contemporary Perspectives of History, Philosophy & Social Sciences,” Meirah Shedlo, academic advisor and special projects manager, announced via email on Nov. 10. 

“This change,” Shedlo told The Commentator, “was initiated by Academic Advisement staff, in consultation with the deans and the Curriculum Committee.” The Curriculum Committee is chaired by Dr. Miriam Hirsch of the Education department and consists of faculty members representing the academic divisions, according to Shedlo. 

Prior to this update, SCW students were required to take a total of four courses, two in “Contemporary,” and another two in “Foundations.” Effective immediately, SCW students are required to take four classes, totaling 12 credits, in the newly-formed “Foundations and Contemporary” category; eligible courses are in Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology departments, though the number of total required courses, and the departments from which they may be chosen, remain the same. According to Shedlo, “current students who have already taken courses toward the previous requirement may choose to adhere to the former policy.”

In the past, certain classes within the same department would count towards different general education categories. In Fall 2020, “Voting and Elections” counted towards the “Contemporary” category, and “Topics: Just & Unjust Wars” counted towards “Foundations,” while both were offered by the Political Science Department. Under the new guidelines, both classes would count towards the same general education category.

The Spring 2021 course catalog is expected to be “ready for student viewing by the end of November,” Shedlo told The Commentator. 

“We hope this update will allow you to choose your courses with greater clarity and flexibility going forward,” wrote Shedlo in her email to SCW undergraduate students, acknowledging that “[a]t times,” the former categories have “caused some confusion.”

Some students welcomed the merging of two former general education categories. “These new requirements seem to alleviate the confusion and stresses of students when choosing between seemingly similar categories and choices of courses,” said Yael Evgi (SCW ‘21).

According to Shedlo, the university will continue to “grant the same number of credits for qualifying AP scores” despite the update. 

This update marks the second major change in SCW general education requirements in 2020. Last semester, SCW students were informed that the three-credit “Human Genetics” course would replace the four-credit “Human Biology” course, which fulfilled the “Science and Technology” category for students not majoring in the natural sciences and included a lab component. Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dr. Karen Bacon told The Commentator in April that she believes “this new course will be more valuable for non-majors than Human Biology,” explaining that the university had “decided to forego the required lab for non-science majors.”

Photo Caption: Two SCW general education categories have merged to form a new category called “Foundations and Contemporary Perspectives of History, Philosophy & Social Sciences.”
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University