Building Blocks of a 21st Century Education
The teaching of ethics at Susquehanna is nothing new. Ethics classes have been required of Susquehanna business majors for the past 20 years. But beginning with the Class of 2013, all students will take an introductory course to understand the implications of ethical questions in life and society. They also will choose an Ethics-Intensive Course that will delve into ethical reasoning and analysis by working through real-world scenarios. This ensures that students will be grounded in the theory and also know how to apply it when faced with ethical dilemmas.
IN A 2007 STUDY commissioned by the AAC&U, more than 70 percent of employers surveyed say American higher education should do more to emphasize students’ teamwork skills in diverse group settings, critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills, ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing, and ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings.
Those are all areas that a Susquehanna education has emphasized for many years, but the new curriculum takes those goals a step further by requiring intensive coursework in intellectual skills, often in the student’s major. All students will take two Writing-Intensive Courses, an Oral-Intensive Course and a Team-Intensive Course.
Professor of Communications Beverly Romberger elaborates: “Susquehanna has always recognized that our students will be giving presentations, reports and speeches throughout their lives. Many students take Public Speaking through the communications department, but it hasn’t been a requirement. Now different departments will teach oral presentation skills so that someone majoring in biology, for example, can learn not only content organization and delivery, but other information unique to how a biologist gives a presentation.”
STUDENTS WILL ALSO TAKE an interdisciplinary course after their sophomore year. “Once students reach their third or fourth year, they’re more mature and ready to progress from concrete ways of thinking,” Martin says. He teaches Science and Religion, a course that was first offered as a pilot last spring.
“One of the most challenging things I try to get them to think about is the concept of the soul in light of what we know from neuroscience,” Martin says. “Students show a lot of resistance to rethinking the traditional ways of conceptualizing the soul. There are a lot of challenges that come out of cognitive sciences, and it’s important that they struggle with that.”
Greg Trout ’10, who majors in chemistry and physics and minors in mathematics, took Martin’s class last spring. “Every day blew your mind. I’m already decently versed in relativity and quantum mechanics and stuff for an undergrad, so that didn’t shock me, but I was constantly learning about all these scientists who had radical and amazing views of God and how He worked. Everyone has their perceptions tossed around in the dryer in that class.”
He adds, “The liberal arts model isn’t always fun when I’m up late typing a paper for a sociology class, for example, but in the end, I think it’s better to know and understand at least the basics of other schools of thought. You can’t have just one frame of reference in the real world. You have to try to meet people halfway and understand where they’re coming from.”
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