Pomona College Re-Evaluates GE Requirements

Pomona College’s Curriculum Committee is undertaking an assessment of student enrollment data and conducting surveys among student and faculty members to determine whether changes need to be made to the college’s general education requirements. 

In his State of the College remarks at a Sept. 5 faculty meeting, Pomona President David Oxtoby addressed the possibility of general education changes. 

“After a decade since our current set of curriculum requirements of general education were put in place, this is a good time to start a thoughtful assessment of how successful they have been and whether we wish to make additional changes for the future,” he said, according to information provided to TSL by Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Marylou Ferry.

Michael Steinberger, the chair of the Curriculum Committee and an assistant economics professor, wrote in an email to TSL that the discussion is still in an early stage.

“How General Education aspirations are implemented is of course important in practice, but the focus of our analysis so far is what is in the best interest of students,” he wrote. 

According to an email Steinberger sent to Pomona’s faculty, the issue will be discussed at a faculty forum Nov. 12, where analysis on the student enrollment data will be presented. An electronic survey will also be sent out to the faculty.

To allow students to participate in the discussion, Commissioner of Academic Affairs Emily Glass PO ’15 has organized a survey to be sent out to Pomona’s student body this week.

“The goal is to preserve the ethos of liberal arts education while being aware of student needs,” Glass said. She said that a discussion is being planned for Nov. 24 at which students can discuss the system. 

Estella Sanchez PO ’17 said that she appreciates the requirements.

“I think that generally the general education requirements are a great initiative,” Sanchez said, “because I know a lot of students wouldn’t go out of their way to take classes out of areas that they think they want, and it really allows them to expand their minds and explore.”

“I like the idea that students are required to take classes outside of their comfort zone, but having to fulfill five or six areas is a bit difficult,” Latta said. “I would just recommend that they shrink it.”

Students are required to fulfill a Critical Inquiry first-year seminar, five Breadth of Study requirements that encompass the college’s range of disciplines, a foreign language requirement and a physical education requirement. A class in Dynamics of Difference and Power is not required but strongly encouraged, according to Pomona’s 2014-2015 course catalog. 

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