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Serving the Greater Good: Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College
Unformatted Document Text:  They also reflect fundamental shifts in how the program has sought to transform the political science major. Consistent with John Wahlke’s analysis, our program also endeavors to prepare all of our students, not just majors, “to analyze and interpret the significance and dynamics of political events and governmental processes.” 4 The focus emphasizes an approach to political problems that prioritizes the student’s development of skills, knowledge, and dispositions appropriate to understand and evaluate political problems. Following both Walhke and Ishiyama, our program attempts to provide a structured curriculum for majors, while maintaining enough openness to permit, and even encourage, non-majors to enroll in our courses which meet various general education outcomes and objectives. 5 Cultivating Civic Responsibility Across Campus Ready to Serve, Nowhere to Go One general education mainstay for political science at Morningside is POLS 147 US Government. This course integrates disciplinary content, diversity issues, as well as service learning pedagogy (a general education requirement) in a 100 level course that serves predominantly non-majors. This course has been a cornerstone of the Political Science curriculum for over 15 years, although it has been through a couple of phases due to changes in the General Education Curriculum. For much of the 1990s, POLS 247 Introduction to American Government was a sophomore level course which served both majors and non-majors in a traditional cafeteria model of general education. Students were required to take two classes from the social sciences. Many students at Morningside studied either Business or Education (almost 60%). Most students selected the Economics, Psychology, or Sociology courses from this section of the general education. Enrollments remained modest requiring generally only 1-2 sections of the course (enrollments rarely exceeded 25). While POLS 247 did serve the broader college, it was not a well-enrolled class and lacked exposure to many Morningside students. With the CORE curriculum introduced in the late 1990s, POLS 247 ceased for a time to have much of any role in the General Education Curriculum. Political Science contributed to a coordinated blend of twentieth century history and contemporary world politics in a course entitled CORE 220 Twentieth Century World Transformations. While this course had many positive attributes, it absorbed most faculty resources that were designated to serve general education objectives. 6 During this period, the college experienced a severe drop in overall enrollment. Enrollment in POLS 247 dropped under 20 per section. Needless to say, overall recruitment in political science lagged. Delivering the Goods: Meeting College Outcomes POLS 147 US Government is a course that meets two rubrics within the General Education Curriculum. First, the curriculum requires students to take at least one course in the American Experience, a course focusing on some aspect of American society, culture, politics, 4 See Wahlke (1991), p. 49. 5 See Wahlke (1991) and Ishiyama (2005). While Morningside’s POLS program does not utilize all of the recommendations found in both of these studies, it does attempt to manage many of the concerns especially those associated with developmental structure that encourages sequential learning, infuses methodological approaches throughout the sequence, provides for a Capstone course/experience, even while keeping a door open to non-majors. 6 In the recent (2008), “History and Political Science Department Self-Study,” the department found that nearly 30% of faculty load was devoted to CORE Curriculum service for CORE 220 alone. Lopez & McKinlay, 4

Authors: Lopez, Lillian. and McKinlay, Patrick.
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They also reflect fundamental shifts in how the program has sought to transform the political
science major. Consistent with John Wahlke’s analysis, our program also endeavors to prepare
all of our students, not just majors, “to analyze and interpret the significance and dynamics of
political events and governmental processes.”
The focus emphasizes an approach to political
problems that prioritizes the student’s development of skills, knowledge, and dispositions
appropriate to understand and evaluate political problems. Following both Walhke and
Ishiyama, our program attempts to provide a structured curriculum for majors, while maintaining
enough openness to permit, and even encourage, non-majors to enroll in our courses which meet
various general education outcomes and objectives.
Cultivating Civic Responsibility Across Campus
Ready to Serve, Nowhere to Go
One general education mainstay for political science at Morningside is POLS 147 US
Government. This course integrates disciplinary content, diversity issues, as well as service
learning pedagogy (a general education requirement) in a 100 level course that serves
predominantly non-majors. This course has been a cornerstone of the Political Science
curriculum for over 15 years, although it has been through a couple of phases due to changes in
the General Education Curriculum. For much of the 1990s, POLS 247 Introduction to American
Government was a sophomore level course which served both majors and non-majors in a
traditional cafeteria model of general education. Students were required to take two classes from
the social sciences. Many students at Morningside studied either Business or Education (almost
60%). Most students selected the Economics, Psychology, or Sociology courses from this
section of the general education. Enrollments remained modest requiring generally only 1-2
sections of the course (enrollments rarely exceeded 25). While POLS 247 did serve the broader
college, it was not a well-enrolled class and lacked exposure to many Morningside students.
With the CORE curriculum introduced in the late 1990s, POLS 247 ceased for a time to
have much of any role in the General Education Curriculum. Political Science contributed to a
coordinated blend of twentieth century history and contemporary world politics in a course
entitled CORE 220 Twentieth Century World Transformations. While this course had many
positive attributes, it absorbed most faculty resources that were designated to serve general
education objectives.
During this period, the college experienced a severe drop in overall
enrollment. Enrollment in POLS 247 dropped under 20 per section. Needless to say, overall
recruitment in political science lagged.
Delivering the Goods: Meeting College Outcomes
POLS 147 US Government is a course that meets two rubrics within the General
Education Curriculum. First, the curriculum requires students to take at least one course in the
American Experience, a course focusing on some aspect of American society, culture, politics,
4
See Wahlke (1991), p. 49.
5
See Wahlke (1991) and Ishiyama (2005). While Morningside’s POLS program does not utilize all of the
recommendations found in both of these studies, it does attempt to manage many of the concerns especially those
associated with developmental structure that encourages sequential learning, infuses methodological approaches
throughout the sequence, provides for a Capstone course/experience, even while keeping a door open to non-majors.
6
In the recent (2008), “History and Political Science Department Self-Study,” the department found that nearly 30%
of faculty load was devoted to CORE Curriculum service for CORE 220 alone.
Lopez & McKinlay, 4


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