Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor
The new DELL Curriculum was implemented at University of Lynchburg with the start of the 2019-20 academic school year.
According to the Director of General Education, Dr. Sharon Foreman, “The DELL Curriculum is composed of two sections: Courses in the Lynchburg Experience area of the curriculum, and courses in the Areas of Study area of the curriculum. The curriculum provides students with much flexibility to discover and grow their passion for learning in a variety of courses and seminars, engage with their classmates and faculty in discussion around exciting topics and relevant issues, and explore the world around them through experiences such as community engagement and use of technology.”
The curriculum, as described on the University of Lynchburg website, is “modeled after the Dell, the beautiful center of our campus.” The areas of focus include breadth of learning, global perspectives, engaging the mind, and personal and social responsibility.
Dr. Foreman said, “The purpose of the DELL General Education Curriculum and Program is to prepare students for responsible engagement in a complex world. The DELL Curriculum helps students integrate ideas from many branches of knowledge and develop skills that are needed in any career. It begins with a first-year seminar that teaches critical thinking, and ends with a senior seminar focused on solving complex problems with a team. The whole experience helps students become the person and professional they want to be.”
Some of the first-year seminars include: “How does music start a revolution?”, “How Can This Be Possible? Engaging Experiences of Ultimate Reality,” and “Harry Potter and the Good Life.”
Dr. Devon Brickhouse-Bryson, an instructor of philosophy, is teaching “Harry Potter and the Good Life.” About the class, he said, “The core question is ‘what is the good life?’, which is an essential question in philosophy, which is my discipline. We are thinking about things like what constitutes a happy life, what constitutes a moral life, what constitutes a just life, and what constitutes a reasoned life. It is a broad range of questions that are contributing to the larger question of what is this idea of the well-lived life, the good life, a flourishing life. We will do some ethics, we will do some epistemology, which is a branch of philosophy dedicated to figuring out what knowledge and understanding is. We will do some social-political philosophy, like what is justice, and that kind of thing. It is a broad kind of course.”
When talking about the importance of general education programs, Dr. Brickhouse-Bryson said, “I think general education is of central importance to the very idea of education. It is hard to be an educated person if you do not know the history of the world, or something about the good life, or about what other religions think about the world and so forth. You need a broad exposure to different disciplines and different aspects of the world. The very notion of liberal arts is that being educated is a matter of being free. The word liberal there is meaning free. [This includes] the arts that you can do when you have time, when you have freedom, or when you do not have to be tied to some external job that consumes all of your time. You are free to explore the world. That is the idea of liberal arts and general education is the central way that the goal is achieved.”
Overall, Dr. Foreman and Dr. Brickhouse-Bryson, along with other faculty, believe that the new curriculum will benefit students in the years to come.
Dr. Brickhouse-Bryson said, “The DELL Curriculum represents our wanting to keep our general education program contemporary and interesting to students, and flexible. There was some concern that the old program was not as flexible as the new program. I expect that we will see benefits and that the new program for students will allow them to explore and still be drawing on a great diversity of classes, which is the very nature of general education. They will have more flexibility in working through the menu of those different disciplines, so they can therefore take classes that are interesting to them, which should be good.”
Dr. Foreman added, “The DELL Curriculum was thoughtfully designed by the University Faculty, with valuable input from employees, students, and alumni, and it was developed with our number one priority and focus in mind, [which is] the University of Lynchburg students and their lifelong learning. DELL is a 21st century general education curriculum that is unique to our institution, and it embodies the diversity of intellectual passions and experiences, engaging pedagogical practices, and lifelong intellectual curiosity held by members of our UL community.”