How We Could Radically Rethink The Core Curriculum In Higher Education

The rise of so-called “soft skills” has rendered the general education requirements of colleges and universities across the United States virtually useless when it comes to priming students for the job markets they will encounter once school is over. Hard-to-define skills such as communication and problem-solving are at the top of most major companies’ hiring wish lists, so it behooves higher education institutions to create new a core curriculum which cultivates these skills. 

By building a Liberal Arts core which adapts to a rapidly-changing media culture, shifts the focus to a more civic-minded approach, and finds a way to integrate journalism at every potential turn, we can both help businesses find workers with the right set of tools for their needs and help students sharpen said tools to be better assets in the workforce. 

Why our current curriculum needs overhauling 

The current state of general education in colleges and universities offers an unfocused and inconsistent array of disciplines and classes which are decades behind the curve when it comes to giving students what they need for both a fulfilling four years in school and careers afterward. Not only that, but a recent report indicates that students who fulfill the requirements for a college degree are becoming less and less motivated to engage in civic-minded activities which function for the betterment of the community – be it niche or global. 

A Bachelor’s degree or more isn’t a guarantee that a citizen will put their experience to use in the greater community, even when it comes to voting. In fact, there may not be much difference between those who do garner degrees and those who don’t which it comes to civic engagement. Changing the core curriculum to focus more on the community on a macro and micro scale while invigorating it with a sense of relevance to the rapidly-changing culture gives us the opportunity to motivate a greater number of college students towards looking outside themselves for the greater good.

What would a new core curriculum look like?

One huge centerpiece of a new core curriculum which could benefit students, colleges, and businesses alike would be media literacy – defined as, per the National Association for Media Literacy Education, the proficiency and skills it takes to properly and effectively analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of communication. With journalism’s role in a democratic society being so pivotal, along with the ethical questions which arise daily from its proliferation on social media and elsewhere, such a core discipline would be a critical start.

From there, we could build other disciplines which bring the core curriculum into the present with vital force and import – disciplines centered on such things as data fluency, citizenship in a new digital age, social and personal wellness, global communication, and the power of information within politics and global markets. There are many other correlative disciplines which could be created to fit a new core curriculum, all with the express purpose of giving students the proper education necessary to survive and thrive in a changing world and job market.

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