Gen Ed expansion at YSU

YSU Academic Senate Committee gather to discuss the new General Education program. Photo by Natalie Lasky / The Jambar

By Natalie Lasky

Youngstown State University is restructuring the general education program, with the intent of implementing a General Education certification program by fall 2024. 

The new Gen Ed program will allow students to not only graduate with a major and minor, but also earn certificates in different fields of study after completing required courses. 

Certificates can be earned in any subject, as long as the course proposal receives approval from the university.

The Gen Ed program will also be designed to help undecided students find a major or minor of interest, without the need of changing majors or minors to be eligible for a course they want to take and allow certificates to be used for more than resume building. 

Leadership is one potential field students could get a certificate in. To receive the certificate, students complete courses like a regular degree track requires. 

The YSU Academic Senate Committee has been working with Provost Brien Smith and Associate Provost Jennifer Pintar, ensuring both faculty and students’ questions or concerns are addressed. Smith said that some students may not understand why certain Gen Ed courses exist.

“At [an] institution, the Gen Ed program should be part of a program that’s set to accomplish a set of goals,” Smith said. “What you find over time [in] all institutions, there tends to be a little bit of mission creep in Gen Ed, so over time it becomes less and less obvious to the students why [they are] even taking these Gen Ed classes.”

Pintar said the program is a result of one of four resolutions that the board of trustees passed.

“This is a compilation of board of trustee resolutions that tie in with our plan for strategic actions to take charge of our future,” Pintar said. “What we established earlier in this fall, was [that] university-wide learning outcomes is what we call the onset of university learning outcomes, and that was passed by [the] Academic Senate, and from that, we have strategies revised [to the] general education requirement, to reflect those learning outcomes that were approved by Senate.”

Faculty are encouraged to submit course proposals they want added to a certificate program.

Unlike the current Gen Ed program, courses offered for each certificate will be revised annually,  putting students in control of what courses will be approved to stay, or be replaced by another course, according to Pintar. 

General Education Coordinator of the General Education Program and Head of the Academic Senate Committee, Adam Earnheardt, presented the program’s proposal at YSU’s December Town Hall meeting in Kilcawley’s Presidential Suite. Earnheardt said some transferable credits, when switching schools, could affect the eligibility for a certificate.

“Whatever happens to be [an] important certificate on, our  understanding is they cannot be awarded the certificate by us, and they didn’t complete the work here. So, now if they came here without that completed, they have to take a few additional Gen Ed courses here,” Earnheardt said

If a student has completed the original course required for the certificate elsewhere, they can opt to take the next course relevant to the one already completed at a different university, in order to obtain YSU’s certificate, according to Pintar.

Certificate course proposals are currently open for submission, the programs and courses will be listed by Feb. 17. More information can be found regarding the proposed certification program at YSU’s Gen Ed Program website.