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Wesley’s Core Curriculum Featured in Article: Transforming a Core Curriculum—and Minimizing the Battle Scars

It is notoriously difficult to change a core curriculum. As credit hours and course requirements are revised, politics quickly come into play and turf battles arise to create obstacles. In my experience, there are two default approaches to curricular change. The first is simply to “tweak” an existing core—renaming a few courses here and there, or sequencing them differently, but keeping the curriculum essentially the same. The second default approach is for the president or the vice president for academic affairs to assign a committee or task force to explore current trends, attend conferences, and develop a curriculum for the faculty to review and, ultimately, approve—or, at least, that’s the plan. More often than not, two or more years of committee work culminate in a proposal that the faculty does not support; after all, they haven’t attended the conferences, listened to the speakers, or discussed the committee’s innovative ideas. Accordingly, the faculty object to the proposed curriculum on the grounds that it would involve too many changes, or that it does not include the right mix of courses, or that it is not financially feasible, or that they like their courses the way they are.

Between 2010 and 2013, the core curriculum at Wesley College was successfully transformed through an entirely different process—a process that left all involved with far fewer battle scars than typically result from major curricular change efforts.