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Baker Report: Reimagining the liberal arts

January 17, 2014
Douglas D. Baker

Douglas D. Baker

Great change is under way at Northern Illinois University! Over the past six months, I have heard from the many stakeholders as to their visions for NIU and the role of this university in preparing our students for career success.

For our graduates to attain career success, they require expertise in their chosen discipline as well as the ability to creatively identify and solve problems using information from multiple sources and then be able to communicate with understanding across social, cultural, economic and scientific boundaries.

In recognition of this reality, NIU’s educational philosophy embraces engaged teaching and learning and strives to create high quality undergraduate programs that prepare students to be lifelong learners and productive, socially conscious citizens.

General education requirements that encourage undergraduate students to think about their academic programs as a set of unrelated courses and unconnected requirements pose a significant challenge in meeting these goals. Thus, an integrated educational experience is best-suited to facilitate student career success.

The General Education Visioning Task Force has – at the direction of the provost – been focused on reimagining the general education curriculum and its role in the overall undergraduate experience at NIU. I invite you to be a part of an open symposium on NIU’s general education and baccalaureate curricular reform from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center.

The symposium will focus on review of the committee’s suggested curricular reform on NIU’s general education. Thomas Steen, director of the University of North Dakota’s award-winning general education Essential Studies program, will deliver the keynote address, titled “Making the Most out of General Education.”

This is an exciting and important initiative for NIU, and participation of the university community is critical in helping enhance our shared mission of student success.

Forward Together,