SHU Introduces Comprehensive New Core Curriculum to Incoming Freshmen

News Story: October 13, 2014

New Undergraduate Core Curriculum to Prepare Students for Global Community

Sacred Heart University will unveil to incoming freshmen this fall an ambitious academic and personal development curriculum aimed at preparing students to work and live successfully in an ever-changing, global world.

The new Undergraduate Core Curriculum builds on the University’s long-standing Catholic mission of educating the whole person and helping students become well-rounded individuals. It raises expectations for students’ academic rigor while continuing to enrich their humanity, encouraging them to be life-long learners and contributing members of society.

“It invites students to another way of thinking and learning and knowing who they are in the world and how they can influence the world for good,” said University Provost Thomas V. Forget.

“Students can no longer afford to see the world as a set of isolated, self-contained cultures which exist completely independent of one another. Therefore, a curriculum that helps them to understand that all things are connected and that everything has a moral component will prepare students very well for life in the 21st century,” said Kathryn LaFontana, associate professor and chair of the Psychology Department.

The core curriculum is structured into three components. The Foundational Core comprises fundamental academic courses in composition, oral communication, information literacy and mathematics aimed at providing students with the intellectual and practical skills necessary for success in a global 21st century world.

The Elective Core includes those courses in the social, natural and behavioral sciences, humanities, arts, languages, and ethical thinking.

The centerpiece is the Common Core: The Human Journey, five courses that engage students in an integrated and common understanding of the arts and sciences and Catholic Intellectual Tradition that invites students to reflect upon questions about the meaning, value and significance of human life. It explores central and enduring questions: What does it mean to be human, to live a life of meaning and purpose, to understand and appreciate the natural world, and to forge a more just society for the common good? 

“There are no clear cut right and wrong answers to these core questions of meaning and value; but students will see that being challenged to think about, explore and examine these questions through careful reading, informed discussion, and analytical thought is central to their fullest growth and development as a human person… The Human Journey will provide students with a body of knowledge in liberal learning in the Catholic intellectual tradition and give them an ethical frame with which to examine and understand the world in which they live,” said said English and Psychology Professor Michelle Loris, Ph.D., Psy.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the University’s Core Curriculum Committee.

Loris said The Human Journey will become SHU’s academic signature and will position the University as a national leader of liberal learning in the Catholic intellectual tradition. In fact, the new curriculum has already earned SHU a place among the country’s elite institutions of higher education.

Last April, the Association of American Colleges and Universities announced SHU’s selection as one of only 23 educational institutions named to its national leadership consortium to participate in a major new initiative – Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility.

“You have an exemplary gem of a new core curriculum which I think will become a model [for] other institutions…Because it is very values-centered it raises universal value issues, moral issues about justice, about the common good, about the integration across disciplines,” said Caryn McTighe Musil, senior vice president of AAC&U.