Edtor's note: This story is a sidebar to Ricks revisited. To learn more about all that is changing at BYU Idaho, click the link below. REXBURG, Idaho — The final phase of building construction on the
Brigham Young University-Idaho campus is well under way. But in the
meantime, the school's foundation is being put into place — at least in
the academic sense.
This fall, BYU-Idaho will implement a revamped general education
program. Called \"Foundations,\" the new program takes effect for the
approximately 3,000 students starting school this fall semester.
Since LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley announced in June
2000 that the church-owned institution would become a four-year
university, BYU-Idaho has accomplished the objectives of creating majors, developing upper-division courses and receiving accreditation. But according to school
President Kim B. Clark, the administration always knew it would
\"revisit\" general education, and the process began in 2006.
\"We decided to ... create an educational experience that would be
a defining experience for the student, and a defining experience for
their time at BYU-Idaho, that really would be foundational,\" he said.
\"Also an experience that would be so influential and so powerful in
their lives that they would remember it all their lives, that it would
be a really great experience.\"
Foundations will be characterized by in-depth courses that
encourage application and problem-solving. According to President
Clark, the goal is to \"go deep into subject matter.\" For example,
rather than offering more generalized survey courses like science or
biology, Foundations courses will focus on issues such as natural
disasters, global climate change or heart disease.
There will be more required classes in Foundations than in the
previous general education program, which President Clark said is aimed
at creating a \"shared experience\" among students.
The new 40-credit program was designed around the ideal of being
\"interdisciplinary,\" according to Roy Huff, the school's associate
academic vice president of curriculum. That means incorporating several
disciplines, which required the collaborative effort of multiple
departments. A group of 122 faculty members across the university
worked to create 26 courses, with each being the combined effort of no
fewer than three departments. For example, the new American Foundations
course included contributions from history, geography, economics,
humanities and religion faculty.
Huff said he does anticipate some growing pains, such as articulating between Foundations and high school advanced placement courses. There are also students serving
missions who will return to find a different general education program in
place. Huff said the administration will be very accommodating at
first, but still wants students to understand the value of the new
\"These courses are kind of superpowered to help you be a better employee in the future,\" he said.To read Ricks revisited click here.