Truman State University is looking to replace the current Liberal Studies Program with The Dialogues, which will be fully introduced at the start of the 2020 school year.
“The Dialogues is meant to give Truman students a unique, innovative exposure to knowledge broadly defined,” Kathryn Brammall, history department chair and undergraduate council chair, said. “The idea of The Dialogues was to sort of take different ways of approaching the creation of knowledge and give students an opportunity to experience some of those different ways.”
So far, the only change The Dialogues have made at Truman was the new Self & Society Seminar courses that are only taken by the current freshmen, and the change in the health requirement. Self & Society Seminars are courses that all incoming freshmen were required to sign up for when registering for classes.
“One of the important things besides community that specifically this first year experience was meant to do was help students transition effectively from high school to Truman and sort of the expectations of Truman students long term, but also then give them the kind of support and information that are available to help them be successful in that environment,” Brammall said.
Brian Altenhofen, professor for Self & Society: Communicating Culture and Self & Society: Leadership Communication, said that he hopes his students leave his classes prepared to engage ideas more critically than when they started the semester.
Altenhofen said he finds that his students are making an effort to read and reflect on really heavy questions that expose students to new ideas and ways of perceived reality.
Faculty Senate President Scott Alberts said, “I won’t say it’s perfect in every way, but I think [Self & Society] rolled out very smoothly. Most of the students I have talked to seem to have enjoyed it. They think it’s valuable. It seems to be doing our purpose, which is really about building community and sort of helping students figure out what it is they’re doing.”
Many aspects of Truman were intended to be addressed with the new curriculum, including community.
Alberts said that Self & Society is built around community, and not just the Truman community, but what it means to be in a community out in society as well.
Truman faculty voted in February of 2019 to delay the rest of the implementation until the fall 2020 school year.
Alberts said one of the expectations of future students is a high impact experience, which includes things like studying abroad, internships, undergraduate research experiments and service learning.
“We want students to have one of these just amazing, awesome, fantastic, wonderful experiences, and we want to be able to help them do that,” Alberts said. “We want to make sure they have a chance to reflect on that experience, to see how it connects back to the courses they’ve had, that you don’t just go off and do a thing but how it comes back and how it integrates with you.”
As faculty prepare for the implementation of the rest of The Dialogues, they intend to improve Truman and move forward to help students for years to come. The implementation is running smoothly so far, and Brammall said the goal for faculty is to provide the best education they can both in the major and within the broader general curricula, and they’re very excited.