As the semester proceeds apace, Trinity College’s faculty have resolved themselves to undertaking the most significant action they can: a revision to the curriculum. While the curricular changes, if approved, may not impact all students presently enrolled at Trinity, the legacy of a curricular change to future students is significant.
This curricular revision bears, as with any proposition, positives and negatives: to some, the changes are too de minimis to be of consequence and do not go far enough. To others, the changes serve as a means to encourage more Trinity students to embark on practical learning experiences in Hartford and the surrounding region through career-focused internships.
We, as students, are the beneficiaries of these discussions amongst the faculty. What we learn and how we learn it has a tangible impact upon the experience of our four years ’neath the elms. That curriculum shapes our academic discourse, assists in determining the topics of theses, papers, and projects, and defines how we fit into the intellectual milieu of Trinity.
More than that, Trinity’s curriculum reflects our values as an institution. We are a small liberal arts school in an urban environment. We are a school of tradition that is also contending with an increasingly global world. We are a historically male institution that, within fifty years, has seen an equaling of enrollment between men and women. We are a school with a historically elite and white association.
Our curriculum can and should reflect these values and our efforts to improve upon them. Our curriculum should reflect our progress: respecting tradition but recognizing a long-standing inequity in course offerings and institutional policy. Surely the most important marker of an educational institution are what skills and values of critical thought inhere to students during their four years here.
Consider, for example, that the present curricular proposal asserts that it seeks to embrace our institution’s sense of urbanity. The liberal arts in the capital city of Hartford. With this proposal, a whole host of questions are raised: is Trinity engaged with its urban environment at present? What partnerships with Hartford entities support this engagement or detract from it? Should we be involved with Hartford to a greater or lesser degree? What is our institution’s place?
Every course at Trinity is a wellspring for precisely these sorts of questions. Our values come from this panoply of questions and it is from the curriculum that these questions are born. Thus is the curriculum a matter that ought to be a concern for all of our students, irrespective of when it will be implemented. Long after your departure, the curriculum will continue to hold sway over how Trinity—our school today and alma matter tomorrow—is viewed by future generations of students and the world at large.
It is as ubiquitous to who we are as the Long Walk. I implore you, fellow students, to engage in discussion with the faculty on the important question of our college’s curriculum. Make your voices heard, for your input is necessary and valuable. What values do you wish to leave this institution with? What values are missing from the proposal? What elements of the curriculum stand to be amended to reflect those values you hold most dear?
As faculty deliberations continue, I hope you all will follow along with the developments carefully and question actions as they occur. For, after all, an educational institution cannot exist in a vacuum only attentive to the concerns of only faculty or only students: both are consequential to the institution’s success and its very existence.