New curriculum change distracts

The University of Minnesota’s 10-year strategic plan includes a set of proposed curriculum changes designed to address what President Eric Kaler has labeled “grand challenges.”

The details behind the changes are still unclear, and the Board of Regents has yet to approve the final plan. However, the “grand challenges” include food sustainability, disease, intolerance and climate change, among other things.

To solve these global problems, the University may introduce new undergraduate minors. Alternatively, there has been talk of a new, theme-based academic track.

This track, if implemented, would have first-year students enroll in a seminar targeting a particular global issue. During their subsequent years at the University, students would take “skills courses” preparing them to respond to whichever global issue they chose. Lastly, students would cooperate with organizations outside the University to solve their chosen problems.

Because a plan has yet to be finalized, it’s currently unknown whether participation in such a track would be optional.

Before the plan is finalized, we would like to express our hope that the University allows room for diverse areas of interest and study. We feel strongly that individual curiosity and academic originality are integral parts of higher education. There are problems in the world beyond the University’s list of “grand challenges.” To that end, we hope the University either offers a wide array of courses or makes participation in the “grand challenges” program optional.