Green Sheet: CEPC 05/06-6
To: St. Olaf College Faculty
Re: Proposed Guidelines to General Education Requirement for “Biblical and Theological Studies—Bible”
At the March 2, 2006 Faculty Meeting, CEPC will move the adoption of statements to define the general education requirement for Biblical and Theological Studies-Bible (BTS-B). Currently, BTS-B is simply described as “Religion 121.” The motion does not propose a change to the BTS-B requirement; rather, it seeks to describe BTS-B in a manner analogous to every other general education requirement. The motion includes (1) description, (2) guidelines, (3) intended learning outcomes, and (4) rationale for the requirement. A rationale for the motion follows.
CEPC will further move that if these changes are approved, the rewritten BTS-B requirement will become one element of a set of revised GE requirements that will be implemented as a group rather than one by one.
Biblical and Theological Studies-Bible (BTS-B) (Core Studies)
Biblical and Theological Studies-Bible: A course that introduces first-year students to dialogue between biblical traditions and the cultures and communities related to them. Students study major biblical texts and their interaction with theology, religious practice, ethics and social values, while considering methods and fields in the study of religion in a liberal arts setting.
- The principal focus of these courses must be the content of the Bible, including its central narratives and other principal literary types, and the major theological views it presents.
- Courses must introduce scholarly tools and conventions for academic study of the Bible.
- Courses must provide opportunities for students to practice skills as readers and interpreters of biblical texts and related materials.
- Courses must consider the use of the Bible by communities of readers and its influences upon various cultures.
- Courses must include a topical focus that places biblical study in the context of its use by specific communities and highlights its cultural significance.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Students will demonstrate
- familiarity with the central narratives of the Bible.
- familiarity with the diversity of types of writing in the Bible.
- introductory knowledge of important methods and findings of the scholarly study of the Bible.
- the ability to make informed judgments in reading and interpreting biblical texts.
- 5. an understanding of the ways in which biblical texts and the communities that read them influence one another.
Rationale for the BTS-B requirement:
As a liberal arts institution the college recognizes that study of religion is essential for understanding human culture; as an institution informed by a particular strand of Christianity, it is committed to student learning about Christianity. This combination leads neither to indoctrination nor to simplistic rejection of religion in general or Christianity in particular; rather, it cultivates informed understanding of and engagement with Christianity by believers and non-believers alike. The BTS-B requirement grounds students’ work in theological study by introducing them to the scholarly study of the sacred writings of the Jewish and Christian tradition. Opportunities provided by BTS-B courses that meet this requirement interact with opportunities provided by other general education courses (notably BTS-T, EIN, MCS) to help students achieve a critical understanding of Christian teachings in a global perspective.
Rationale for the motion:
Currently there is no description of the BTS-B general education requirement other than as Religion 121. Descriptions and guidelines for general education requirements not only are helpful to faculty as they prepare new course proposals, but also inform the public about general education at St. Olaf College.
Every general education requirement except BTS-B has a complete description of the requirement as well as guidelines and comments when necessary. Intended student learning outcomes have been recently adopted for all general education requirements except FOL, and the requirements still under review by CEPC (NST, MAR, and MCS (-D and –G)). This motion does not propose a change to the BTS-B requirement; rather, it reflects current practice and describes BTS-B in a manner analogous to every other general education requirement.