When students come to California State University, Northridge dreaming of becoming, say, nurses or geographers, many are surprised to find that their introduction to college curriculums are general education courses. Some feel these classes are roadblocks to taking the first steps in achieving their dreams. However, thanks to a group effort between CSUN and Pierce College, the newly developed Pathways program is looking to make some of those required units more meaningful.
Pathways classes, developed by Cal State Northridge history professor Patricia Juarez-Dappe and other faculty, are divided into three themes: social justice, global studies and sustainability. “We’re taking a very multidisciplinary approach,” Juarez-Dappe said, “so that students can see that what they are learning in that GE math class actually has relevancy in their GE humanities class or health class.” If the program is successful, the organizers are hoping to increase the number of threads to include topics like health, social media, the arts and technology.
Regardless of whether a student began at CSUN or another school, every Matador must complete 48 units of general education classes. Each Pathways theme carries 18 total units, which, according to Elizabeth T. Adams, senior director of undergraduate studies, allow for total scheduling flexibility.
In addition to learning in the classroom, each student will also be expected to take those lessons out into the world in the form of service learning within the community. “The umbrella theme is designed to connect the idea of making students more engaged at the general-education level across all disciplines while at the same time exploring the idea of civic engagement,” said Juarez-Dappe.
The impetus for the creation of Pathways was a need to help ease transfer students’ transition from a two-year college to a four-year school. This new program was established through a $40,000 grant from the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Lumina Foundation.
“We are hoping that this will help make these courses more meaningful as students realize that what they learn in a general education class can have an impact in the real world,” Adams said.
For more: Cal State Northridge is Developing ‘Pathways’ Through General Education [CSUN Media Releases]