Published: May 12, 2021

The spring semester listening tour for creating a common curriculum for undergraduates has wrapped up. 

More than 1,000 faculty, staff and students in the campus community participated, with five open session forums and more than 70 tour stops involving academic units, shared governance groups, student groups and academic support organizations.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in these meetings for their time and invaluable input,” said Katherine Eggert, senior vice provost for academic planning and assessment. 

Eggert is leading the development of a common curriculum and co-led the listening tour with Robert Shay, professor of musicology and a former dean of the College of Music. 

“Our discussions were highly engaging and encompassed a wide swath of ideas centered on what a CU Boulder undergraduate education should represent,” said Eggert.

Discussions about CU Boulder’s values for undergraduate education centered on: cultivating lifelong learners equipped to begin intellectual journeys grounded in respect for others; cultivating citizens and future leaders who can effectively engage others, navigate complexity, understand differences as strengths, and practice equity and inclusion; and cultivating each student as a whole person who is equipped to find joy from self-understanding, curiosity and discovery. In addition, there is a broad expectation that the common curriculum discussions and planning must be connected to the critical conversations unfolding on campus centered on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Common themes regarding learning goals that surfaced during the discussions included critical thinking; experiential learning; multiple forms of literacy, including information, scientific, linguistic, aesthetic, and data literacies; effective written and verbal communication; the ability to discern fact from fiction and reasonable from unreasonable arguments; and the ability to synthesize one’s learning into a capstone project or portfolio.

“During our meetings with campus community members, we received questions about how a common curriculum would affect our current degrees and courses, and how it would relate to established general education programs in the schools and colleges,” said Shay. “We were also asked about how other universities might serve as models, and if there would be faculty, staff and financial resources available for putting a common curriculum in place.”

To address these questions and continue the work toward developing a common curriculum, Provost Russell Moore asked deans for nominations by April 30 for tenure-track and instructor-track faculty to serve on a common curriculum steering committee.

Committee members will include a faculty representative from each of the College of Arts and Sciences divisions, as well as one from each of the other schools and colleges with undergraduate curricula (the Leeds School of Business, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Media, Communication and Information, and the College of Music). Also on the committee will be a faculty member from the University Libraries and another from the Boulder Faculty Assembly, as well as representatives from academic administration and Student Affairs. Student representatives will join the committee when it begins its work in fall 2021.

Throughout fall 2021 and spring 2022, the steering committee will weigh the campus input, review submitted white papers, study current CU Boulder school and college general education requirements, consider other institutions’ common curriculum models, and review the current scholarship on the purpose and function of an institution-wide undergraduate curriculum. 

The steering committee will also write a draft plan for a CU Boulder common curriculum that it will then revise based on additional campus feedback and review. During its planning and proposal process, the steering committee will hew to the principle, enshrined in University of Colorado regent law, that the university’s faculty have the principal responsibility for decisions concerning pedagogy and curriculum.

“The basic question driving the development of a common curriculum is simple,” said Eggert. “What learning do we want all CU Boulder graduates to share in common when they exit Folsom Field with their undergraduate degree in hand?”

Submit white papers through the common curriculum webpage. Any questions or feedback about the discussion and process may be sent to