Following on from my article about the Curriculum Review at the University of Notre Dame, I can report that the draft recommendations of the Curriculum Committee call for the retention of the current two theology course requirements. It recommends adding a core course called “Catholicism and the Disciplines”: students will be able either to take two philosophy courses or one course on “Catholicism and the Disciplines.”
The draft review also recommends adding to the Core Curriculum a course whose goal is “Integration.” An “Integration” course will typically be cross-disciplinary and faculty have been invited to propose “Integration” courses.
I am relieved that the draft requires theology to keep two courses in the core curriculum and that philosophy is keeping at least one course. My hope is that in the coming years Liberal Arts administrators and Deans will come to distinguish between “strong goals,” whose achievement is easily testable (i.e., if the goal is “achieve knowledge of Latin,” the test is “can the student translate a Latin text?”) and “weak goals,” whose achievement cannot readily be assessed—as is well known by students who bluff their way through weak-goal oriented courses. “Integration” is a weak goal.
Strong goal orientations are best achieved by the study of a particular discipline. Weak goals should not be the object of University curricula because it will not be clear whether or not they have been achieved.
Francesca Aran Murphy is a senior fellow at First Things.