Public College Drops Math Requirement, May Replace It With Diversity

By Blake Neff

A public university in Michigan has announced it’s deleting a requirement that all students complete at least one math course before graduating. At the same time, the school is seriously considering a new requirement that would compel students to complete four courses that promote diversity.

Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit is one of the largest schools in Michigan, with some 27,000 students. Until now, all of them had to either take one of three basic math classes to earn their degree, or else test out by performing sufficiently on a relevant SAT, CLEP, or AP test.

But going forward, students will not longer have to demonstrate any mathematical competency to graduate, unless their particular course of study requires it.

The elimination of the math requirement came even though the school “strongly encourage[s]” students to take math classes, noting that they are invaluable for students who want to be employed in STEM-related fields. According to The Detroit Free Press, the school justified the move by saying the existing math requirement only expects students to learn as much as is currently required for a high school diploma. However, about one-third of WSU students need to take remedial coursework in their first year, suggesting that high school math may be just what some students need.

The requirement’s elimination is part of a broader overhaul in WSU’s general education requirements. According to a statement of principles created last year to guide the overhaul, WSU says general education “provides a shared educational experience that imparts knowledge and expertise essential for all undergraduate students regardless of their major or interests.” In the eyes of the school, mathematics is apparently no longer an essential expertise.

But if faculty have their way, the school will soon recognize an appreciation for diversity as an extremely essential expertise.

As was first noted by The College Fix, the committee handling WSU’s general education reform has recommended a new framework that, if adopted, would place an extremely strong emphasis on diversity-related courses. Under the framework, the school would create a series of new diversity-themed courses, and all students would have to take at least one.

In addition, students will have to take three “signature” classes, two designed for freshmen and one that will serve as a “capstone” class for upperclassmen. These “signature” classes will be designed to engage with modern-day issues such as “culture, sustainability, health, ethics, and urban development and renewal.” In recognition of the importance of diversity, all signature classes will be required to achieve a diversity-related goal such as “intercultural knowledge and competence” or “global learning.”

The framework justifies the heavy focus on diversity because “diversity is central to the nature of WSU, i.e., ‘Distinctively Wayne State.’”

Instead of a math course, the new framework suggests requiring that all WSU students simply be required to complete a “quantitative experience” class, which could include math but could also include education in how to interpret graphs or how to “use quantitative information to communicate in a purposeful way.”

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