Published: January 24, 2023
Spartan Studies, a New Gen Ed Curriculum, Is Coming to UT
New students this fall at The University of Tampa will be the first to enroll under a general education curriculum called Spartan Studies.
Spartan Studies reimagines and revamps the robust liberal arts foundation UT students already receive. The roughly 14-course curriculum will be spread over four years, culminating in a multimodal, senior-year project that ties together the general education experience and acquired expertise in a major area of study. The goal, says the academic deans behind the effort, is to prepare students to be successful, contributing members of the global community.
“Spartan Studies is the result of us looking at what is relevant to students today,” said Cheri Etling-Paulsen, associate dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “It is intentional in its design, equitable in its delivery, and it’s easier to navigate than what we had before.”
General education is the set of courses that every student takes as a supplement to or in conjunction with their major, said Etling-Paulsen. Such requirements are well-established under the current Baccalaureate Experience curriculum, which was first launched at UT in the 1980s. Under Spartan Studies, however, new courses and benchmarks are designed to meet the demands of the 21st century.
Those demands are reflected in the designated keystones of Spartan Studies: cultivate, create, communicate and contribute, “hallmarks for the entire program,” said Jeffrey Grim, associate professor and director of Spartan Studies.
Students will take 42 credits to satisfy the Spartan Studies requirements, and courses will be distributed across academic disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, humanities, arts and mathematics. These core requirements will develop students’ skills and broaden their perspectives through critical reading and writing, analysis and quantitative reasoning.
Specific course descriptions are being written and will be available when the 2023 catalog is finalized this fall, but Etling-Paulsen hinted at a couple of the innovative options. “We’re doing a course on global cities and migrant narratives, looking at them from a humanities perspective,” she said. First up is London, with a focus on its literature, films, plays, music and other cultural artifacts.
She also mentioned a social sciences course titled “Witches, Satanists, and Atheists: The Decline of Religion in America” that will look at changes in religiosity and modern approaches to spirituality.
“There is flexibility to choose courses that students will find interesting,” Etling-Paulsen said. “We’re not creating just one humanities course, for example, that everybody takes.” At the same time, she said, the program’s structure ensures an equitable experience since the curriculum will be consistent for all students, with the same learning outcomes, regardless of the specific course taken.
Beyond — and within — the academic load, Spartan Studies students will learn digital and financial literacy; gain awareness of diversity and inclusion issues and efforts; and practice civic engagement and career readiness, all focus areas that add to the program’s uniqueness and capitalize on UT’s downtown location, with its easy proximity to internships and jobs. In addition, every student will take a basic computer-language course, something Etling-Paulsen says will help develop problem-solving skills.
“One of the strengths of the curriculum is that it will prepare students for not only their time at UT, but also their time after UT,” Etling-Paulsen said.
Students entering UT for the first time in Fall 2023 will matriculate under the Spartan Studies program, except for those in the Honors Program and those earning a Bachelor of Liberal Studies. Full implementation of the program will take a few years, though, because returning students will have the option to continue under their current catalog, a choice which most returning students will find expeditious, Etling-Paulsen said.