UI to offer additional hands-on learning classes

University students will have a few extra options when trying to fulfill general education requirements in the spring semester.

In a University Massmail sent Tuesday, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Charles Tucker announced that 25 new general education courses will be available for the spring 2016 semester.

The Massmail listed the courses as belonging to three main categories: inequality and cultural understanding, sustainability, energy and the environment, and health and wellness.

The courses were developed as a part of the University’s Grand Challenge Learning pilot. The idea for this pilot came out of a campus conversation in the fall of 2013 that gathered input from about 700 faculty members, staff, undergraduate students and graduate students.

Lauren Goodlad, a provost fellow and professor of English, said the courses aren’t meant to be more challenging – as the program’s title may imply – but instead to address problems that are important to students in a more hands-on approach.

“The idea behind them is that (the courses offered) are small, like a discovery course, but also interdisciplinary,” Goodlad said. “They use experiential learning, which is to say projects, designs and community engaged projects.”

A video included in the massmail states the courses are for first-year students but Goodlad said that is no longer the case.

“Ideally, we would love for the classes to be able to create an environment for first-year students — not just freshmen but also transfer students — to get to know each other while they get to know the campus,” Goodlad said. “On reflection, we decided that it would be a lost opportunity if we didn’t give all undergraduates the chance to sign up for the courses.”

The 25 courses being offered in the spring is an upgrade from the six offered during the fall 2015 semester. Each course will enroll 25 students and will fulfill at least one general education requirement.

The goal for the program will be less about the number of programs offered as opposed to the type of courses. Goodlad said that they want to build more offerings in the quantitative reasoning, behavior and physical sciences fields.