Starting in September 2019, the students of UCU’s bachelor’s degree programs will, through the first two years of their studies, also take mandatory extra courses in three areas: “God and me,” “People and me,” and “The world and me.” These are part of the “Worldview Core” which will be taught in all the university’s bachelor’s degree programs. These courses will be offered to students who start their studies in September 2019, and the first course common to all courses will be “Introduction to university studies.”
Many American and European universities have similar programs, called “Core Curriculum.” The purpose is to help students’ personal formation and to help the university improve the quality of its education. It is interesting to note that students often choose one or another educational institution because it offers such a program.
As a university that is growing quickly, UCU from time to time looks over its processes and goals, in order to constantly improve the quality of education but not lose its identity and that of its students and graduates. Consequently, as the plan of the Worldview Core starts to develop, it is important to understand how to make it so that UCU graduates have something in common, something that will unite them, regardless of at what program or faculty they studied.
“Forming a committee with vice-rectors, deans, and teachers, we decided to develop a requirement for all students of bachelor’s degree programs, as it were an additional instructional program, that is, an opportunity for all to pass through a definite common context,” explained Sophia Opatska, UCU Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, in the report of the committee reviewing the UCU Worldview Core.
The goal of the Worldview Core is integrated development, not only intellectual and professional, but to foster in students an awareness of their own responsibility and ability to build their lives on Christian values and principles for the common good and human dignity. Thus the program is formed around three areas: “God and me,” “People and me,” and “The world and me.”
Volodymyr Turchynovskyy, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, discussed this in more detail:
“The first component – ‘God and me’ – acquaints the student with the experience of the Christian witness of encountering God and the dynamics of Christian life and faith. It explains the core of the Christian position and proposition for the modern person.
“The second component – ‘People and me’ – reveals for the student the importance and nature of interpersonal relations, the ability to live in a family and community, revealing the needs of the other, the necessity of achieving synergy among individuals and in society. It explains what it means to live a good life and how and why to strive for this. This component has integrated competencies which correspond to the profile of an UCU graduate that are critically important, regardless of program. These are communicational skills, critical and analytical thinking, and habits of team work.
“The third component – ‘The world and me’ – should reveal for the student the importance of a responsible attitude toward the world, and global processes and challenges which the student’s generation will face, and also should acquaint the student with the Christian understanding of social development and progress and the importance of integrated personal development.”
In addition to these three areas, the Worldview Core will include social service work and academic writing.
How will this work in practice?
Students who begin their first year of the bachelor’s degree program in September 2019 will, in the first semester, attend the introductory course “Introduction to university studies,” and in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th semesters, in the order they chose, will attend one of the three required areas of the Worldview Core.
“One area per semester. In this way, in 1.5 years of study, students will take all three classes of the program. The general number of credits for the Worldview Core is 3 + 18; each area has 6 credits. Each area is composed of elective disciplines of modules of either 1 or 3 credits. The weighted structure means 1 credit consists of 10 classroom hours and 20 hours of independent work. The maximum amount of credits in an area in each semester is 6,” explains Andriy Yasinovskyi, Dean of the UCU Humanities Faculty.
It is important that in these courses students will have the opportunity to get acquainted, to interact with their peers from other programs: theologians and IT students, sociologists and journalists, will meet in one class…
This program will also bring teachers into areas of new strategic tasks, important for the university. As part of the three areas “God and me,” “People and me,” and “The world and me,” by the end of March teachers of all UCU’s faculties should propose courses which could be included in the core program. For this purpose, educational goals and corresponding themes/modules were presented to them. The teachers can propose courses that already exist in one or another program, and also entirely new ones, for one or another educational goal can be achieved with variations, combinations, levels, disciplines, or modules.
“Whether the program will be truly of high quality depends on how well the teachers not only offer important themes but also present them in an understandable and interesting way. So, for the Worldview Core we need not look for integral teachers but, absolutely, for personalities who know how to inspire and hold the attention of students, in addition to instructional material that correctly conveys the values of UCU,” says with conviction UCU Vice-Rector for External Affairs Oleh Turiy.
Why is the Worldview Core important for UCU?
UCU is, above all, a university of values. And, to a significant extent, the Worldview Core will help it not lose this key particularity. “Until recently, students acquired the UCU ethos, generally, spontaneously and occasionally in certain conditions. Today, however, when the university community is growing quickly, it is not enough for us to depend on the good will of enthusiasts. For, as it says in our mission statement, it is not necessary only to declare the university’s values, they need to be lived. UCU has to be a forum where Catholic thought and the social teachings of the Church enter into dialogue with all forms of knowledge in scholarly, professional, artistic, and other fields of human activity, and the Worldview Core is called to demonstrate that this is truly important,” says Myroslav Marynovych.
The experience of the University of Notre Dame – one of the best Catholic universities and one of America’s best – has been educational for us. There formational moments are very important. This university preserves its mission and everyone knows that, entering Notre Dame, the student comes to an environment that forms a certain type of personality, which in the future will be able to find itself in the global and American market.
“UCU should work according to these principles, in order not to lose its identity in the background of market dynamics and the educational environment. For in time, good universities will arise in Ukraine, and the question is: What will UCU be? For us it is important to be ourself, but not simply to maintain the status quo, and not to lose our values. The program of Worldview Core is one more opportunity for us to be interesting, recognizable, something to distinguish us from other universities. It is also important so that, in time, young people choose our university not only because it makes it easy to find a job but because we have the Worldview Core, which allows one to become intellectually and spiritually savvy and to feel part of a community which shares all this,” says Oleh Turiy.
Text: Oksana Levantovych