Lynn University says goodbye to college algebra, 'so long' to public speaking

Innovative 'Dialogues of Learning' curriculum was two years in the makings

Published Aug. 29, 2008

When the Lynn University class of 2012 arrives on campus in two weeks, its members will be enrolling in classes that are markedly different from those Lynn upperclassmen have taken in the past, not to mention those most common to college campuses across the country. For starters: Lynn freshmen won't be taking college algebra. Nor English 101. And even if they wanted to, they couldn't enroll in that perennial panic inducer - public speaking.

In the place of such curricular mainstays, Lynn's faculty and academic affairs division (which has been rewriting the university's core curriculum for almost two years) is dropping in courses that are new in both focus and scope. In a recent e-mail, Cynthia Patterson, vice president for academic affairs at Lynn, explained the new set-up to incoming freshmen and their parents.

In her message to parents, Patterson said the new core (titled the "Dialogues of Learning") was "designed to match our academic core with the university's mission to be one of the most innovative, individualized and international small universities in the country."

It's a curriculum, she wrote, that will make the students' college experience more fruitful, and the Lynn experience more distinct. The Dialogues, she says, "will ensure that your student's time at Lynn is rewarded - with intensive experiences; fresh insight; a heightened awareness of him or herself, this country and the larger world; and perhaps most importantly, with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in a global society and economy."

So how will this new curriculum look? As Patterson's letters suggest, it's not as if Lynn students will no longer be writing, number crunching or honing their public speaking skills. In reality, they may actually be doing more of all three.

Take, for example, the end of algebra. The university isn't doing away with math education altogether, but ramping up the requirement. College algebra is being replaced with a rigorous course in real-world finances. The course, titled Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning, will focus on revealing how data, statistics, and other mathematical information impacts everyday life. Students will study loan agreements, the credit and mortgage industry, and other challenging but wholly useful mathematical models and concepts.

And, instead of taking an English 101 composition class, students will enroll in a seminar course where they'll read, write about and debate readings, issues, assumptions and ideas that interest them. These seminars will focus on three themes (Self and Society, Belief and Reason, and Justice and Civic Life).

Also on the chopping block are required courses in traditional science areas such as biology, chemistry and physics. But those too will be replaced within the core with an Introduction to Scientific Literacy. In this course, students will explore the mysteries, methods, discoveries and theories of science from an interdisciplinary and historical perspective.