Campus / News / April 1, 2013

Graduation requirements to change

(Andrei Papancea/TKS)

(Andrei Papancea/TKS)

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the number of foundations courses needed for Knox students to graduate is set to increase to five with the addition of new Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning and Natural and Physical Science requirements and the elimination of the current Mathematics and Natural Science requirement.

The change originated from a disagreement between faculty who currently teach MNS-approved courses as to whether or not the scientific method was an essential learning goal or not. Faculty from the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science generally felt that it was not, whereas their colleagues from the other sciences felt that it was. The differences were irreconcilable enough that the decision was taken to split the MNS requirement outright into two separate foundations.

The outline of how this would function was presented by the Curriculum Committee at today’s faculty meeting.

There is no course that is definitively approved to be a QSR foundation yet, but this will likely include most math, computer science or statistics courses and a few social science and humanities courses such as Symbolic Logic. Most of these courses currently fill the Quantitative Literacy Key Competency.

To eliminate redundancies the second portion of the QL Key Competency, which requires that students pass a QL-approved course, is also being abolished. Students will still have to demonstrate elementary proficiency in mathematics, whether through doing well on the ACT or SAT, passing the COMPASS exam or passing a math course.

NPS courses are also not officially decided yet, but they will come from largely from the natural sciences. A limited number of courses could also fit either requirement as they stand now. Chemistry 101 is an example of a course that could go either way. The faculty will choose at some point which category such courses will fall under.

In practice, this change will mostly be noticed by students who attempt to fulfill the current MNS requirement and the Quantitative Literacy Competency with the same course, a strategy known as “double-dipping.” The number of students who take a single course for both requirements and no others that fill either goal is relatively small, generally no more than 20 in a given graduating class.

The vast majority of Knox students will not be affected.

“It really re-conceptualizes something that’s already been in the curriculum,” Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde said.

Other events of note that took place at the faculty meeting:

  • Approval was granted to insert a Statement of Academic Integrity into the Honor Code, outlining the importance of honesty in academic work at the college. Student Senate will also need to vote on the statement before it is officially adopted.
  • Endorsement was given to changes to the bylaws of the Midwestern Athletic Conference to allow affiliate members to participate in athletic events, with the practical effect of allowing Macalester College to join the conference in football. This would also create a North and a South division, with the intention of reducing travel times for student athletes. Faculty approval is largely symbolic, as Knox’s vote on the matter is held by the president of the college.
  • Associate Professor of Modern Languages Tim Foster was elected to the Faculty Personnel Committee.
Matt Barry
Matt Barry is a senior majoring in international relations and double minoring in economics and German. This is his third year working for TKS, having served previously as discourse editor. He has worked for such organizations as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Premier Tourism Marketing and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago, where his work appeared in such publications as Leisure Group Travel, Ski & Ride Club Guide and The Chicago Monitor. Matt has written his political opinion column, "The Voice of Reason," weekly for three years, which finished in first place at the 2012 Illinois College Press Association conference and was also recognized at the 2013 conference.

Tags:  academic integrity cirriculum committee computer science faculty meeting faculty personnel committee foundations graduation requirements honor code Larry Breitborde math midwest athletic conference natural science quantitative literacy statistics tim foster

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