Emmanuel Son, Staff Writer
At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Saint Martin’s University implemented a new academic program called COR, replacing the old general education program. It had been 30 years since the last time there were any adjustments made to the academic program, according to Kathleen McKain, director of the COR program.
McKain explained how there was nothing wrong with general education classes and said, “it was something that you could put in any university it wasn’t really distinctive to Saint Martin’s.”
The idea for the new COR program began about a decade ago. The goal of the project focused on developing a program that will better reflect the identity and mission of the university. Development of the new program went through a discernment process that took many years. Eventually, plans were made by McKain and other members of the project to work out the logistics of the new program so it would be ready by the Fall 2019 semester.
When asked how the COR program differs from the general education program, McKain explained that the old system gives you a list of classes a student could take and count for various categories.
The main difference with the new COR program is that it is more interdisciplinary. A benefit that the program hopes to give students is the intention of connecting and combining classes, as opposed to students having to combine classes themselves. An example McKain gives is choir director, Darrell Born, teaching a class with a professor of physics, Stephen Parker, about the physics of music, in an attempt to combine those two disciplines.
Classes are designed to act more like seminars. “They’re purposely about figuring out answers to big questions by approaching them from two different perspectives,” said McKain.
Another difference is that the new program offers 100, 200, and 300 level classes. With a typical general education program, most of the classes are at the 100 and 200 level, which are often taken by students during their first two years. With the COR program, those classes are specifically meant to go through the center of a student’s entire college education.
“A lot of this has to do with research that we found out about in regard to writing, that students only do writing classes their first year. It’s a skill that they lose, whereas with the new COR we have a writing class the freshman year and then we have a writing intensive class at the 200 and 300 level. In other words, with the idea that you would get better as you progress through your college career, and we want you to be writing in your field,” McKain said.
The titles for the courses come right out of the campus’ Benedictine values of community, hospitality, stewardship, ethics, and dignity.
While not all courses are taught by members of the Abbey, they are taught in conjunction with the Benedictine values, which also offer staff and faculty the opportunity to receive training on the teachings of the Benedictine Catholic order. McKain said, “[The program] is very firmly grounded in the university’s Benedictine identity, particularly the 300 level courses.”
From a student’s perspective, freshman Katherine Jamerson, a recipient of the ACT 6 full ride scholarship, said, “The new COR program is great because it allows students to fulfill graduation requirements while exploring different fields.” Jamerson hopes to broaden her perspectives of different career options by being able to combine classes on various topics. Freshman Clare Zepeda said the COR program actually helps her figure out her required classes, but also gives her opportunities to examine potential career fields and help her decide her major. Ethan Chung, a Computer Science major, said he finds he feels like he is redoing high school classes under the new program, but loves being able to explore other fields. Jake Ideguchi, an Environmental Science major, said he feels limited to his class opportunities, but has an easier time getting required classes in.