The drive to establish a common curriculum for CU Boulder undergraduate students began in 2018, when the Academic Futures strategic initiative, drawing on discussions with faculty, students and staff across the university, recommended that the campus define common educational touchpoints throughout the undergraduate experience. The following year, the Interdisciplinary Working Group called for the creation of a range of both disciplinary and interdisciplinary educational experiences for our students. Responding to these recommendations, along with the 2020 report by CU Boulder’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, Chancellor Phil DiStefano declared CU Boulder’s commitment to creating a common learning experience and a common set of intended learning outcomes for CU Boulder undergraduates.
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert and Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Daryl Maeda are leading the university’s effort.
This site will keep the CU Boulder community up to date on the progress of the discussion, design and implementation of the common curriculum. For questions or feedback, please contact us at email@example.com.
A common curriculum introduces and engages students in common themes, skills, methodologies and values that the university deems important for the development of its undergraduate student population. Unlike a core curriculum, a common curriculum isn't a prescribed set of courses or distribution requirements. Instead, a common curriculum describes a set of foundational themes and integrative values that are addressed throughout the undergraduate educational experience, including courses, academic disciplines, and co-curricular programs. Ideally, a common curriculum makes a virtue of the individualism of our students, as each student decides what courses and programs addressing these various themes and ways of knowing best serve their educational needs and interests, both within and beyond their majors, In addition, the preparation provided by the common curriculum assists the students in exploring connections between their academic work and their lives beyond the university, possibly where no connection has existed before.
A common curriculum fosters a sense of community and dialogue among students by facilitating the exchange of new ideas and discourse between students of diverse and different backgrounds and academic paths. It exists both in courses required for students’ majors and in the diverse landscape of courses that sit outside of the majors. Ideally, these courses expose students to a wide range of areas and modes of knowledge and help undergraduates develop intellectual skills, competencies, and literacies that act as a foundation to the rest of their education and future careers. Often thought of as "walk out of the stadium knowledge"— what knowledge do we want our students to have when they are awarded a CU Boulder bachelor’s degree?—these skills are imparted both within the major and through courses and co-curricular programs that expose students to new modes of inquiry and interpretation they might not otherwise get to explore within their majors.
Throughout the spring 2021 semester, Senior Vice Provost Eggert and Professor of Musicology Robert Shay, former dean of the College of Music, met with academic departments and programs, student groups and student support staff in a “listening tour” as a first step in understanding the hopes and concerns of faculty and professional staff who work to advance CU Boulder’s undergraduate programs, as well as the hopes and concerns of students. The aim of these meetings was to gather thoughts and ideas around the concept of a “shared community of learning” and around what pedagogical values and learning goals are most important to undergraduate education at CU Boulder. In addition, the campus community was invited to submit white papers addressing any aspect of the common curriculum. This input, from more than 80 departments, programs and other groups and more than 1,250 participants, formed the basis of the common curriculum’s learning objectives.
At the beginning of the 2021–22 academic year, the Common Curriculum Planning Committee was formed. The CCPC’s members, who were nominated by the CU Boulder deans and College of Arts & Sciences divisional deans who oversee undergraduate courses and degree programs, were charged by Provost Russell Moore with “leading the university in the identification and design development of a common curriculum through which our undergraduate students will achieve shared learning goals that address integrative values and common touch points throughout the undergraduate career.” Using the input from the Listening Tour and white papers as a springboard, the CCPC worked throughout the 2021–22 academic year to create a framework for a curriculum whose learning objectives represent common themes and a set of relationships that instantiate the values we hold at CU Boulder.
Members of the CCPC include:
- Katherine Eggert, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning & Assessment; English
- Daryl Maeda, Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education; Ethnic Studies
- Russell Cropanzano, Leeds School of Business
- Barbara Demmig-Adams, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Vicki Grove, Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures and vice chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly
- Roudy Hildreth, Education
- Caroline Sinkinson, Libraries
- Nicolò Spera, Music
- Colin West, Physics
- Cindy White, Communication
- Wendy Young, Chemical & Biological Engineering
- Thomas Zeiler, International Affairs
- Evangelyne Eliason, third-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology
- Jemil Abdu Kassahun, first-year Colorado Law student
- Shelly Bacon, Undergraduate Education
- Patrick Tally, College of Arts & Sciences
- Joe Thomas, Student Affairs
The Common Curriculum Planning Committee published its draft proposal of the learning objectives and outcomes for the common curriculum in April 2022 and has invited feedback from the campus community. The draft proposal can be found here
. The CCPC hosted several open forums in April 2022, and their presentation at those open forums can be found here.The committee’s presentation at the April open forums can be found here. Feedback on the proposal may be submitted through firstname.lastname@example.org
In the fall 2022 semester, there will be further opportunities for the campus community to weigh in on the Common Curriculum Planning Committee’s proposal before it proceeds through a faculty approval process, which will be determined in partnership with the Boulder Faculty Assembly. In addition, an implementation group will be formed to map out the steps required to put the common curriculum into place.