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Final Approved Core

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Core Background

Saint Louis University approved our new University Core in the spring of 2020. This University-wide approval was the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year collaborative process involving faculty, students, alumni, staff and administration — all working together to envision what a shared undergraduate experience at SLU could and should encompass. The University Undergraduate Core Committee (UUCC) led this initiative. Our new University Core began with a pilot year in 2021-22, and all undergraduate students entering in 2022-23 began the new Core.

Until our new University Core curriculum was approved in March 2020, Saint Louis University lacked a common undergraduate general education curriculum across all colleges and schools. Why was this the case?

SLU is the second-oldest Jesuit university in the United States, but we were the first Jesuit institution of higher learning to offer our students a curricular choice. By 1858, students could choose between a “classical curriculum” and a “commercial curriculum.” On the one hand, this made SLU distinctive: we were the first Jesuit university to offer both professional preparation and a liberal arts education. However, in practice, this meant that each college or school maintained different general education curricula as SLU developed. Before SLU developed and approved our University Core, the college and school curricula that did exist — even the large core in the College of Arts and Sciences — were not designed to foster student agency in integrating knowledge across disciplines.

This lack of integration both within and between colleges/schools created a range of challenges. Students whose interests and goals changed found it difficult to change majors across colleges/schools without delaying graduation. Within colleges/schools, many students and faculty complained that requirements are both too numerous and lack coherence. Faculty did not share a collective vision of or goal for what a SLU undergraduate education can and should impart. Many of our students likewise graduated without a clear conception of what sets them apart as graduates of a 200-year-old Jesuit university. Finally, because we were not assessing student learning across our multiple cores, we had no mechanism to use collected data to improve the Core educational experience.

The UUCC’s work on a shared undergraduate SLU core was informed by the work of the 2015-16 Task Force on Becoming a SLU Baccalaureate, the 2016-17 College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Core Curriculum Working Group, and the 2016-17 Joint Faculty Senate - Provost Task Force on the University Core Curriculum and Shared Undergraduate Experience. The 2015-16 Task Force responded to a charge from Provost Nancy Brickhouse and the Faculty Senate to “develop a vision statement that articulates what is distinctive about a SLU undergraduate education.”

The vision statement then informed the work of the 2016-17 CAS Core Curriculum Working Group and the University Core Curriculum Task Force, charged by President Fred Pestello, to determine “[w]hat institutional structures are needed to house and maintain an excellent university-wide undergraduate core?” This Task Force recommended the creation of a University-wide undergraduate Core committee that would be charged with developing and implementing a common SLU Core. This committee, the UUCC, delivered its final Core Proposal to the SLU faculty on January 31, 2020; the faculty voted to approve this Core on March 20, 2020; SLU’s Council of Deans and Directors and Chester Gillis, Ph.D., interim provost, followed suit on March 31, 2020.

  • Development of a Governing Vision Statement for the SLU Baccalaureate (2015-2016)
  • Preliminary Crafting of University Core Student Learning Outcomes (2016-2017)
  • University-wide Review, Editing, and Approval of New Core Student Learning Outcomes & Founding of University Undergraduate Core Committee (2017-2018)
  • Core Curriculum Architecture Design (2018-2019)
  • New Core Proposed to the SLU Community (January 2020)
  • Approval of University Core (March 2020)
  • Appointment of Associate Core Directors (July 2020)
  • Faculty Development and New Course Development (2020-2022)
  • Piloting of Key Core Components (2021-2022)
  • Implementation for All New First-Year Students (Fall 2022)