History of the Curriculum Initiative at SFU
Since its inception, Simon Fraser University has been known for its commitment to undergraduate education. Like other institutions, we are finding it ever more challenging to fulfill this commitment. Technological and cultural changes, the rapid creation of new information, a larger and more diverse student body, conflicting sets of expectations on the part of social and political institutions; these are among the many factors that increase the difficulty of offering students a relevant, effective and coherent education.
Early in 2000, a distinguished committee was charged with evaluating our undergraduate curriculum. This committee surveyed exemplary universities and consulted widely with students, faculty, staff and experts. Several significant changes were recommended to enhance the quality of undergraduate education at SFU. Included in the recommendations were requirements intended to ensure that students entering SFU were adequately prepared to do university-level course-work and, when remediation was necessary, that students obtained it before entering SFU or early in their programs. These recommendations were presented to the Senate of Simon Fraser University in October 2002 and accepted in principle at that time.
Recognizing that the task of implementing these requirements would be complex, Senate established a Task Force, which was supplemented by three Support Groups (hereafter collectively referred to as the “Implementation Committees”), to recommend how the proposed changes could be implemented most effectively. In November 2003, the Implementation Committees released a Discussion Paper that contained a set of preliminary recommendations and outlined what they believed to be a workable plan for the advancement of undergraduate education at SFU. Following the release of this document, the Implementation Committees consulted widely within SFU and with other institutions. A Revised Discussion Paper was prepared for Senate, and motions related to the recommendations were passed at the May 2004 meeting of Senate.
The Implementation Committees are currently in the process of certifying current courses that satisfy the intent of the recommendations, encouraging the development of new courses, creating policies for articulation and transfer, and ensuring that the new requirements are effectively woven into the fabric of the undergraduate experience at SFU.