This is a very difficult task. In a sense it requires a lot of pragmatism – to discern what subjects, courses, and requirements yield tangible success – but it also requires an unbiased clear-focused ideology and the wisdom of educational introspection. The latter points concern the make-up of this course, Alternate Worlds. How do we learn best? And the broader question: What is education?

First, I’m going to address the first point, gauging pragmatism. The biggest issue is limits. When designing a new curriculum the old must be acknowledged and what does work must be credited and saved.

One example, for instance, is the notion of a liberal arts option that produces well-rounded individuals. As I’ve discussed in my most recent paper, American colleges, for the most part, have embraced this type of curriculum more than European curricula. This is why in most American institutions (including CUNY schools) students are required to take a host of core classes on top of (or before) their major or specific subject being studied. This is an ingrained aspect of higher education in America. So any proposition to fully uproot it might ultimately be damaging and impractical.

This is where the second point, concerning a holistic ideology, comes in. In performance arts schools, such as Julliard and Manhattan School of Music, there are no liberal arts cores. This option should not be limited to art schools. This doesn’t mean that liberal arts programs be eliminated but they should be optional. When entering a university – or use any CUNY school for our purpose – a compromise would be offering a liberal arts core supplement. Those who chose to complete the core base would receive a special certification on their diploma. Once such a system is established those with full certification would have an advantage over others in the workforce thus creating an incentive but not requirement to fulfill the liberal arts program. The benefit of this curriculum is that the major or concentration receives its due attention above the cores. People need to learn how to specialize more effectively and thoroughly as early as their undergraduate years.

However, the core curriculum optional approach does not allow illiteracy or a lack of basic skills. Knowing basic reading and writing in English, and perhaps one mathematics class should be required to facilitate basic needs. Cores such as history, psychology, philosophy, sciences, etc., would make up the core curricula.

One more addition I’d make to my curriculum would be internship / real-world experience. Often there are options to receive credit for real-world experience but I would make it a requirement especially after realizing how much such experience is part of the education process through the posts in this course.