We need a curriculum change

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

One thing that makes Tech unique amongst other higher institutions is its STEM-centered core curriculum across all of its 36 offered majors.

According to the Registrar’s website, general education at Tech is designed to produce students who are “mathematically, scientifically and technically competent; competent in information research; literate in reading, writing and presenting; and literate in the use of technology.”

This means that every student regardless of their major will take a combination of lab sciences, math classes, computer science, health and some English and humanities to satisfy their gen-eds.

While these requirements are great because they expose students to a range of different disciplines, what Tech is missing in its general education is the ethical and global context of which these disciplines fall under, which would be done through a required ethics class and either a modern language or world cultures-centered course for every major.

While requiring a modern language for every major is extreme, especially with the pre-existing heavy course load and rigor that comes with pursuing a Tech degree, it still would make sense for the Institute to require some sort of cultural literacy or globally-focused class to broaden students’ worldviews.

For example, if students would like to choose Russian as their chosen language or culture to satisfy the requirement, students could either take a traditional Russian language class or opt to take something like a Russian literature or Russian foreign policy class instead.

By allowing students to choose which path they take for the requirement, this creates a more interesting individualized experience that makes the approach to international and cultural studies more accessible and less daunting, which is ultimately more rewarding than forcing students to attempt to learn bits and pieces of a foreign language they are not interested in over the course of a semester. Especially in the ever growing interconnected world that we live in, it is crucial that students have exposure to different cultures to bridge understanding and become better global citizens leaving the Institute.

What is arguably more important to address, however, is Tech’s lack of ethics requirements across all of its majors.

For how important ethics is in our society, there is no excuse for every major discipline to not include it somewhere in its curriculum.

It is irresponsible of this university to expect students to already understand the repercussions and real world effects of the decisions that they make in their respective fields by the time they enter the real world.

Especially in majors like Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, Business, Computer Science or any discipline involving lab work or research, it is imperative that students know the principles of right from wrong and the potential harms of their decisions on the environment and communities across the globe.

If Tech wants its graduates to be a positive change in the world, it needs to provide its students with a solid understanding of the principles that guide our decisions and actions. While learning technical skills is important, understanding and being able to make informed decisions related to the greater global or ethical context of a discipline is what will make Tech students stand out and make that much more of a difference in the real world.