Discovery program revamps Gen. Eds

By Allie Ginwala
On September 14, 2010

For the first time since 1984, UNH has completely revamped its General Education program - a goal of of the school for the past 10 years.

This semester, UNH launched the Discovery Program, it's designed to make it easier for students to understand the Gen Ed curriculum.

Barbara Prudhomme White, faculty director of the Discovery Program, said that it wasn't a simple process to update the curriculum.

"It's easier to move a cemetery than it is to change a curriculum because everything in a curriculum is sacred to someone," White said.

UNH's General Education program began in 1984 and included a list of 108 different requirements that needed to be filled in order for a student to graduate. Each year since then, there has been tweaking, but overall, the Gen Ed program stuck for many years. The original program listed the Gen Eds by number in a "menu style."

Now the Discovery Program has names for students to easily identify the category that the classes fall into and the menu has been done away with.

The program also offers built-in moments for student interaction with professors.

"The program adds holistic experiences and makes connections from start to finish," Michele Holt-Shannon, the administrative director of Discovery, said.

The main differences between the original program and Discovery are the additions of Inquiry, Dialogue, and a Senior Capstone.

The Inquiry course will give students a chance to take a class about something a professor is really passionate about, such as the history of ice hockey or fly-fishing.

"It's a win-win, and it's appropriate for freshman," Holt-Shannon said.

Another unique change is the addition of dialogue. Faculty collaborate and choose a topic to incorporate each year as a theme both in and outside of the classroom. This year's dialogue is "Information Overload."

The Senior Capstone project allows students to reflect on their education and skills they have acquired and enables them to tie together their undergraduate experience.

With new additions comes much evaluation, analysis, and effort, White said.

White hopes that the Discovery program will help get students more connected, and to teach them to tap into deeper questions and then to decipher them.

Ashley Heim, a sophomore zoology major, and Audrey Petteruti, a freshman biology major, said that they were both happy with the new format and that they enjoyed taking a wide range of classes because future employers would like a well-rounded person.

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