Goodbye, CORE-399

Elise Wennberg—Staff Writer

When asked their opinions on CORE-399, juniors and seniors said the capstone of Dordt University’s CORE program, was a “waste of time,” “not well taught,” and “provided nothing new.” One upperclassman said, “let’s just say that no one shows up most of the time.” 

Over the past two years, faculty and Student Government reviewed the CORE program, including CORE-399, ultimately deciding to replace the course.

“Every few years, each department goes through review,” said Hannah Vanderhooft, student government humanities representative. “It’s easy to forget the CORE program is a department.”

Last year, Vanderhooft conducted focus groups which reviewed the CORE program.

When CORE-399 concludes, Jeff Ploegstra, department chair of the CORE program, considers implementing a two-fold strategy.

First, students’ departments will require Advanced Reformed Thought (ART) classes within or related to their major. Second, students must enroll in a “post-disciplinary, contemporary response course” outside of their major, such as a revised CORE-399 or a “select subset of ART courses.”

 “Changing a CORE program’s content is easy,” Ploegstra said. “But trying to change the CORE curriculum as a whole is another process entirely.” 

The proposed changes add responsibility to the major-specific departments.

“Basically, we’re taking that requirement—the ART requirements—and we’re just putting it on programs,” Ploegstra said.

In Fall 2022, the courses Christianity and Pop Culture and Faith and Suffering will be offered to students as a CORE-399 alternative, allowing for students to have greater flexibility within the CORE program. 

“It may sound trite,” Ploegstra said, “But we want them to think about the importance and the way that Reformed philosophy and theology shapes our future life within a discipline, but then also outside of the discipline.” 

Currently, Ploegstra and the CORE program committee are discussing other courses to categorize as ART courses, as well as considering co-taught courses.

“One of the best ways to model cross disciplinary thinking is to actually have two experts who are talking about an area of common interest from two different perspectives,” Ploegstra said.

“Essentially what’s happening is that students will take two ART classes,” Vanderhooft said. “So, one that’s approved by your major and one outside your major.”

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