Academics, News

Cognates broaden scope of undergraduate career

The two-day fall break and week-long Thanksgiving calendar changes are not the only changes students should expect to see this semester.

Class advising and registration have also changed with the university’s unveiling of the cognate system, a new organization of the general education requirements needed for graduation.

Freshmen and other students planning to graduate in 2017 will be the first to consider and declare cognates before class registration begins Nov. 11.

Last year’s Student Government (SG) administration, led by former President Nawara Alawa, listened to students’ complaints about the previous stringent general requirements for graduation.

“For the longest time, students would complain about the rigidity of general education requirements,” she said.

The idea of cognates came around as a way for students to personalize their education as they will have flexibility in choosing their courses, Alawa said.

The word cognate means “related to.” Courses are grouped together rather than specified as “three credits in a religion or philosophy course,” as the requirements were formerly organized.

To graduate, students must complete a cognate in each of three areas: arts and humanities, people and society, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Each cognate constitutes three related courses or at least three three-credit classes.

Majors and minors can satisfy one of the cognates. Once students have completed a cognate in each of the subject areas, they can declare additional cognates in the same way they declare majors and minors. All completed cognates are listed on a student’s transcript.

A course can only count toward one cognate, and outside credits from Advanced Placement exams or other universities can be used to complete a cognate.

SG worked with William Green, the senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, to ensure that students were represented when the changes were being made.

Alawa stressed that her goal was to represent “student voices and opinions through every step of this project.”

Even though the students were kept in mind throughout the process, the objective for the cognates is still lost among students.

“I find the cognates interesting, but I’m still not sure how they would be useful,” sophomore Perry Elbadrawi said.

Freshman Ivan Traczuk is not sold on the idea of taking classes that do not relate to his major, even though the requirements are not a new concept.

“I think they give everyone a great background knowledge,” he said. “It does, however, distract me from my major because it requires me to learn things that don’t relate to my major.”

According to Alawa, the cognates were created to expand student’s knowledge about subjects outside of their majors to diversify their college careers.

“Students could take ownership of their education without forfeiting the value of a general education that would inevitably serve them well in life,” she said.

Cognates are groups of related courses centered on a theme. The class of 2017 will be required to graduate with one type of cognate in each of three areas: arts and humanities, people and society, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Here are some examples of cognates that fulfill these subjects. CaneLink features a cognate search engine.

Arts and Humanities
Religion: Christianity, Islam and Judaism
English: American Literature and The British Literary Tradition
Art and Art History: History of European Art and Museum Studies: Art, Material Culture and History

People and Society
Geography: Health and Medicine in the Social Sciences
Psychology: Abnormal Psychology and Human Social Process
Communication: Broadcast Meteorology

STEM
Chemistry: Science and Society
Marine Science: Earth, Stars, Wind and Water
Engineering: Engineering Entrepreneurship
Geology: The Earth and Society

October 27, 2013

Reporters

Alina Zerpa


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