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The Resurrection: Four “Neighborhoods” Unveiled

Stemming from the “Rollins Plan,” the new general education curriculum finalizes its arrangements and reveals the four official themes on which the curriculum will center.

For over 30 years, Rollins has been consumed by the current “alphabet soup” system. The program centers on completing a check list of “Q’s,” “V’s,” “D’s,” and so on; each letter is associated with a course to fulfill the general education requirements. In the fall of 2013, however, the “alphabet soup” system will be replaced with a new program: next year’s freshmen will be greeted by the “neighborhood” curriculum.

The details of the “neighborhood” program have rippled throughout campus during the past few weeks: a rebirth of Rollins Plan, the fundamental idea of the curriculum is that students will choose one of four themes, or “neighborhoods.” Each students’ general education courses will center on their chosen “neighborhood,” relieving the current “alphabet soup” program. On Oct. 25, the Arts and Sciences faculty officially elected the four themes: “When Cultures Collide,” “Mysteries: Into the Unknown,” “Innovation and Creativity,” and “Self and Community in a Diverse World.”

“The most popular “neighborhood” among faculty, “When Cultures Collide,” “invites students to examine the biological, artistic, political, cultural and socioeconomic effects of globalization,” according to its description. Each discipline will explore the question: “if it really is ‘a small world, after all,‘ how do peoples, cultures and environments change as a result of different worlds encountering one another?”

As its ambiguous title suggests, “Mysteries: Into the Unknown” will delve into the enigmas of the world such as: “Mona Lisa’s smile. Antimatter. The sound of Turin. An ideal democracy. The Bermuda triangle. Breaking the speed of light. Sherlock Holmes.” The neighborhood considers how mysteries are “fertile ground for producing new knowledge and new truths across disciplines.”

“Innovation and Creativity” invites students to examine the by-product of our technologically advancing world: “The Internet. Microloans. Stem Cell research. The pill.” Paralleling Rollins’ “Ashoka U Changemaker” designation, students in this neighborhood will study the global market through a creative lens while fostering their “skills to [becoming] change-makers themselves.”

During a time in our lives in which we are still developing our individual identities, “Self and Community in a Diverse World” will “prepare students to understand themselves chemically, biologically, culturally, socially and personally.” Contending to the idea that “our identities–from our DNA to our religion to our fingerprints–shape ways that we think about, feel and engage with the world,” this neighborhood welcomes students who are searching for their true selves.

The four “neighborhoods” were chosen by faculty among nine themes. A ballot-like form was administered to every faculty member, by which they each were to elect their three favorite themes. Of the 165 active members of the Arts and Sciences faculty, 68 responded to the vote.

Each student’s general education courses will center on their chosen ‘neighborhood,’ relieving the current ‘alphabet soup’ program.

Because of the number of respondents, votes were needed to elect a theme as one of the four official “neighborhoods.” A measly eighteen votes placed “When Cultures Collide” in the number one slot, and only eight votes were necessary to implement “Self and Community in a Diverse World.”

Despite the tepid response of voters, the entire Arts and Sciences faculty approved the four themes at the faculty meeting on the 25th, confirming the curriculum change for fall of 2013. As next year’s freshmen will be welcomed by the “neighborhood” program, current students will continue to pursue the “alphabet soup” curriculum.

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