Curriculum Changes Are Upon Us

Author: Corinne Quane

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Red, orange and yellow leaves have started to fall around campus. As students walk to their classes, brightly colored trees make their treks a little more cheerful. The seasons are changing, but the transition from fall to winter isn’t the only shift campus is experiencing. 

Over the past several semesters, the university and several of its colleges have enacted a variety of curriculum changes. 

In fall of 2018, the university introduced a new core curriculum featuring a “Ways of Knowing” approach, designed to develop well-rounded students by exposing them to a variety of disciplines. 

At its conception, the Keough School of Global Affairs offered only minors and a supplementary global affairs major. As of March 2022, students can now solely major in global affairs. 

Conversely, the College of Science just removed a major. Once so popular that a waitlist had to be created, the interdisciplinary science-business major will no longer be offered to incoming students following the fall of 2023. The last cohort of science-business students will graduate in 2026. 

Under Dean Martijn Cremers, the Mendoza College of Business is experiencing one of the most recent and drastic curriculum changes at the university. 

Beginning with the class of 2026, eight previously required courses will no longer be required in order for students to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Mendoza. Instead, the college will require that students take three business electives outside of their major to help “broaden” their skill set. These nine credits are in addition to 25.5 credits of business fundamentals and the 21 credits required for each of the majors. Mendoza has named this new academic curriculum the “Undergraduate Business Core.” 

Despite the curriculum changes, the same five majors are still offered: accountancy, business analytics, finance, management consulting and marketing. 

The goal of the new Undergraduate Business Core is to create flexibility in students’ schedules. By requiring fewer courses, students will have the opportunity to pick up second majors or minors. It will also hopefully widen students’ study abroad opportunities as they will no longer feel pressured to select a program that offers business courses. 

Despite the good intentions behind the new curriculum, the Undergraduate Business Core has been a point of contention among students and faculty. 

Many current students are frustrated by the curriculum change as it only applies to students in the class of 2026 and onwards. 

Megan Klein, a first-year student, appreciates the flexibility of her schedule. She has plans to major in either finance or business analytics, minor in energy studies and study abroad. With less requirements, she feels she has the ability to do this and possibly add a second minor. 

When Klein was deciding between two business programs last spring, she said she was aware of Mendoza’s new curriculum, but in the end, it didn’t have a large impact on why she chose to come to Notre Dame. She felt as though she could have handled either curriculum. 

While Klein basks in the flexibility of her schedule, sophomores like Finn McClintock are taking on heavier course loads in order to complete two majors in four years. “I have to take a lot of 17 credit semesters, he says. “If I could take less core credits, I could relax on that and maybe do another minor.” McClintock was hoping to add a data science minor, but with his business analytics and ACMS majors, he doesn’t have room for the additional 12-15 credits. 

Despite having to relinquish this opportunity, McClintock notes that there may be some downsides to the new Undergraduate Business Core, especially for students who aren’t sure what they want to study yet. 

Originally, McClintock was an accounting major. “Even though I wish now that I didn’t have the requirements,” he says, “I sort of needed them to find out what I was going to do, so I think the change might be bad for people who aren’t sure what they want to do.” 

Students aren’t the only ones weighing the pros and cons of this new program. Professors are also divided in their views on the new curriculum. 

In favor of these changes is John Stiver, who teaches macroeconomics. “I’m one of the few who thinks that (it is a good idea),” he says. 

Stiver explains that even though eight classes are no longer required — statistics for business I, accountancy II, business technology and analytics, business law, managerial economics, macroeconomic analysis, foresight/business problem solving and process analytics — they are still available for students who wish to take them. Stiver claims, “My view has always been that if the class is useful, it doesn’t need to be required. If they eliminate (the requirement for) classes that students think are valuable, they are going to take it anyway.” 

Stiver’s macroeconomics class is one of the courses that has been eliminated as a college requirement. Previously, Stiver felt he had to broaden the scope of his course so that it was applicable and beneficial to all of the majors within the college. 

Now that his class is now a finance elective, he feels he can make it more specific to the finance discipline. Additionally, he feels that some majors, such as marketing, do not benefit from his class. Now that macroeconomics is no longer required, he finds the situation to be a “win-win.”

Whether you are for or against the new curricula, student or faculty member, change is ever-present in Notre Dame’s classrooms.