General education requirements are a very important part of our liberal arts education here at Lawrence. While the intentions of these classes are good — to make us well-rounded people — the means to the end does not always make sense.The first example would be the Writing Intensive requirement. No Lawrentian will ever graduate without writing numerous papers, for the simple fact that we all had to take Freshman Studies. Now, that class is really only intended to be an introduction to writing, but it does in fact introduce students to the pages upon pages that they will write for every subsequent term of their time at Lawrence.
So why are we required to take one class that is arbitrarily designated to be “Writing Intensive”? Literary Analysis is a common choice when it comes to that requirement, but there is no more writing in that class than any other upper level English class, or most other departments’ upper-level courses for that matter. The requirement is not without merit, given that communication through writing is a very important skill to have, but why are more classes not deemed “W”-worthy?
Another example is the Dimensions of Diversity requirement. The requirement itself is not what we take issue with; diversity in one’s own country is a good thing to learn about. The issue is how the requirement is fulfilled. What makes a course’s subject matter “Diverse” and why are so few courses labeled as a “D”? More upper level classes should be marked as a “D,” so we don’t all have to take Introduction to Gender Studies.
Students should have a wider variety of classes to choose from when it comes to GERs. Professors should take the time to evaluate their classes and apply for the requirements where they are relevant. This would allow students to fulfill requirements — such as the elusive ones mentioned here — while taking classes that they want to take, rather than just have to take.
If more classes are available to students for fulfilling the GERs, not only will the student body be able to explore broader horizons more freely, but it will be permitted to do so without worrying about the sparse classes to choose from. This in turn will allow students’ minds to be more open, their schedules and registration less harried, and the learning process more enjoyable.