Class of 2023 first to undertake new Core requirement

September 6, 2019

CFirst year students entering Brandeis during this semester will be the first students to fulfill the new university general education requirements, called “The Brandeis Core,” that expand the previous course requirements needed to be completed before graduation.

The new requirements, passed unanimously in the spring of 2018 by the Brandeis Board of Trustees, mark the first change to the requirements since 1994, according to an earlier article by The Brandeis Hoot. The requirements will not affect students enrolled prior to the fall 2019 semester.

The largest changes include new required courses in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion studies in the United States, expanded requirements in Health and Wellness courses and a new Digital Literacy requirement.

The Brandeis Core also limit the amount of requirements that can be completed using Advanced Placement (AP) credit. Under the Brandeis Core, AP credit can be used to fulfill the quantitative reasoning requirement and the world languages and cultures requirement, while the previous system allowed for AP credit to fill four additional distribution requirements, now called the Schools of Thought requirements.

The Brandeis Core is meant to “strengthen mastery of academic, personal, social and career goals. Each area is interdisciplinary, rooted in Brandeis’ bedrock values and focused on the highly complex, interconnected world in which we live,” according to the Brandeis website.

The Core divides Brandeis’ existing requirements into five categories, adding a few new requirements along the way.

Global Engagement

To fulfill the Global Engagement subdivision, first-years and future students need to take three courses in each of the following subfields: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion studies in the US (DEIS-US), Difference and Justice in the World (DJW) and World Languages and Cultures (WLC).

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion studies in the U.S. is new this year, and approved after discussions with the Board of Trustees. Courses satisfying this requirement range in topic and department, from Theater to Politics to English and Health and Social Science Policy classes.

“Students will study the important role that a commitment to social justice has played in the advancement of the United States, and address the role that inequality has played in the country’s formation and continues to play in its development,” reads Brandeis’ description of the requirement.

Difference and justice and the language and culture requirement, where students must take a level 30 or above language course (equivalent to about three semesters of learning a language), are for the most part the same as previous requirements.   

Health, Wellness and Life Skills

The Health, Wellness and Life Skills requirement includes three courses and replaces the existing physical education requirement of two courses. All first-year students are automatically enrolled in a core course, and then get to choose two additional courses in three subfields: Navigating Health and Safety, Mind and Body and Life Skills.

First-Year Experience

The Core adds a new requirement, critical conversations, to the first-year experience. Critical conversations are moderated faculty discussions about a specific theme, according to the Brandeis website, and range from topics including identity, climate change and truth.

There are five conversations offered during the 2019-2020 academic year starting Oct. 3 and ending March 17.

Foundational Literacies

Digital Literacy is the only addition to the foundational literacies requirement, which includes writing intensive, oral communication and quantitative reasoning courses.

The Digital Literacy requirement, which needs to be completed in a student’s major, focuses on digital media, data and data analysis — though it varies by major.

“The ability to engage in the digital world plays an increasingly important role in intellectual life. Every discipline has been affected by the digital revolution in its own way. Students will master the critical digital resources and techniques relevant to the scholarly or creative endeavors of their discipline,” reads the Brandeis website.

Schools of Thought

The Schools of Thought requirements are essentially the same as the distribution requirements for sophomore students and above — the key difference being students cannot use AP credits to satisfy them. Students must take courses that fulfill the four schools of thought: creative arts, humanities, science and social sciences.

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