Senate passes new curriculum

May 13, 2004, vol. 30 no. 2
By Diane Luckow

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After three-and-a-half years of university-wide planning and discussion, SFU senate has passed a motion to implement a bold new curriculum revision in the fall 2006.

Unique in Canada, the new curriculum will require all students to complete 36 credit hours in courses specially designed to foster breadth of knowledge, quantitative reasoning and logic, and writing ability. It also includes revised admissions standards requiring set minimum scores in mathematics 11 and English 12.

“These new courses, in combination with our already outstanding major and minor programs, will equip our graduates for success in a world where lifelong learning is essential,” says John Waterhouse, VP-academic. “This approach to building a new educational foundation will help them to cope with constant change - to lead it, to evaluate it, to criticize it.”

While SFU faculty and instructors have always put considerable effort into assisting students who have quantitative or writing difficulties, the new curriculum will formalize this type of learning, he says, with significant funding earmarked for revising existing courses and developing new courses.

Under the new curriculum, students will take six credits of courses that foster quantitative abilities (Q courses), six credits of courses that foster writing abilities (W courses), 18 credits of designated breadth consisting of six credits each in humanities, sciences and social sciences and a further six credits of undesignated breadth outside of a student's major program.

Psychology professor Dennis Krebs, who chaired the undergraduate curriculum review committee, says quantitative courses need not be pure math.

“The intent,” he says, “is that these courses teach students to acquire skills such as those that enable them to evaluate the statistics they encounter in everyday life. Courses that teach formal logic, for example, would satisfy the quantitative reasoning requirement.” Not all courses will be new, he says, some will be revamped to incorporate writing-intensive or quantitative elements.

Waterhouse is impressed with the efforts of the various task forces, working groups and staff who worked together to achieve such a signficiant revision. “This has been a model of how major initiatives should be undertaken,” he says.

For more information about admissions and course requirements, visit

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