Common Texts or Common Concerns? Embedding Diversity in a Core Curriculum

Dr. Rosemary Fisk
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As administrator of Samford's interdisciplinary core curriculum, I negotiate ideological battles each year when faculty from many disciplines who teach the two-semester Cultural Perspectives sequence meet to vote on new common texts and reject old ones. By agreement we rotate at least one text per year. Often because of the personnel conflicts that can result from these discussions, many universities have given up on the idea of a core in practice even as they admire the core in theory. I would argue that the existence of the core creates the opportune space that can guarantee every students' exposure to diverse ideas, and that those who would sabotage the core must become convinced that diverse ideas can be represented in the framework of the core curriculum. My paper will share administrative strategies for embedding diversity in the core and for helping faculty reach consensus about course content. We can all agree, for example, that we do not want a liberal arts graduate to reach our nation's highest office without knowing the context of the word "crusade". A unit on Islam that includes the Qu'ran and also primary texts from Arab, Christian, and Jewish participants in the Crusades thus becomes, in essence, an acceptable "common text" for all freshmen.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary core curriculum, Diversity within a required core, Islam as a common unit, Administrative strategies for the core
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, Teaching and Learning, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Common Texts and Common Concerns

Dr. Rosemary Fisk

Associate Dean/ Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences Department of English, Samford University

Dr Rosemary Fisk has taught at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, USA since 1984. She holds an M.A. in English from Duke University and Ph.D. in English from Rice University, specializing in 19th-c American literature. She serves as Secretary on the Executive Council of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society and is Conference Director for a joint meeting with the Emerson and Poe Societies at the Rothermere Institute, Oxford, in July 2006. Besides teaching American literature, Dr Fisk has been Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences since 2001 and administers the core and general education programs. She is editor of the two-volume anthology "Cultural Perspectives: A Sourcebook" for the interdisciplinary core course, in addition to numerous articles.

Ref: H05P0427