New changes in the university Core Curriculum will start in the fall of 2019, affecting freshman entering that fall. The International and Cultural Diversity (ICD) credit requirements are being revised to include a 3-hour Cultural Discourse (CD) credit in order to promote students’ international awareness.
“The ICD requirement would include a new set of well-defined goals aimed at expanding a student’s cultural or international awareness,” the Faculty Senate’s Core Curriculum Council said in a factsheet. “The new CD requirement is aimed at helping our students engage in difficult conversations related to topics such as gender, race, religion and politics."
Currently, students are required to take six credit hours of ICD credits in order to graduate. The changes will require students only take three hours, but also take a three-hour Cultural Discourse credit. This process began in 2014 and the first open forums for faculty and students took place in 2016.
Jan. 23 the Faculty Senate approved the changes put forth by the Faculty Senate’s Core Curriculum Council. Julie Harlin, co-chair of the Core Curriculum Council, said this process has been going on for the past two years.
“Since we recently revised the core curriculum, the Core Curriculum Council felt it was time to revisit this requirement as well,” Harlin said. “Once it has been approved by President Young, it will come back to the core curriculum council for implementation.”
Earlier this year, students from TAMU with faculty and administration about revising the ICD credits and creating a mandatory diversity awareness course. TAMU Anti-Racism member and political science sophomore Margarita Zollo said the university examining its courses is what students wanted.
“This is all we really want — for A&M to take a more critical view of the classes we do have,” Zollo said. “It will definitely get people to talk about these issues, and hopefully this will be an intro to get people involved in issues that relate to diversity and inclusion.”
However, Zollo said some students are wary of the university not following through with its plan and merely discussing the issues.
“We’ve seen this before where a university declares some action is going to be done and when it gets to the end of the day there are no effects long term,” Zollo said. “There still is that anticipation of the university not holding themselves to the standards that they put out, but overall, we are feeling confident about this.”
Harlin said the Faculty Senate Core Curriculum Committee has met with various student groups and feels that a majority of classes already offered will meet the Cultural Discourse requirement.
“We have had widespread student support and have met with many groups of students across campus,” Harlin said. “We suspect that there are many courses already offered that meet the spirit of the Cultural Discourse requirement.”
Texas A&M offers 362 ICD credits, but the new plan requires these courses to meet new guidelines in an approval process proposed to the Faculty Senate.
“If a professor can make the case for how the course will allow dialogue on difficult topics, the course should be approved,” Harlin said. “We are not dictating specific content to be taught, and we hope that faculty propose courses on a wide range of topics as is currently the case for our ICD courses.”
Zollo said the addition of new ICD courses in previous years has caused this conversation to be a long time coming and is excited for what it could mean for students.
“I think a lot of people are going to be watching it, making sure it’s the best it can be,” Zollo said. “I hope for myself and others it will have the effect of getting people involved in different groups in the community and caring about these issues in the long run.”
Only freshmen entering Texas A&M in the fall of 2019 will be affected by the changes, and professors can request for their courses to be approved as ICD or CD requirements under the new plan.
“Texas A&M University, including its students, faculty, staff and administration, is strongly committed to diversity and to the need for courses that promote the understanding and acceptance of difference,” the Faculty Senate’s Core Curriculum Council said in a factsheet.