As Georgetown reexamines its general education requirements for English, the proposal under consideration entails an obligatory first-year writing seminar and a broader array of options for fulfilling the Humanities and Writing II requirement. We support these initiatives, which will place greater emphasis on developing writing skills for all students.
Of course, caution should be exercised when reevaluating the core curriculum, and the university must preserve its commitment to liberal arts education without overwhelming students with compulsory classes. Fortunately, it seems that the principles behind the English department’s proposal are sound. Writing techniques shouldn’t be an afterthought, and we’re happy that the department is focused on making the craft itself a priority.
The current proposal could do more, however, to improve the situation. Students who receive a five on an Advanced Placement exam in English will still be excused a portion of the requirement. AP credit is typically a suitable substitute for general education requirements, but writing ought to be an exception to this rule. The university’s policy should reflect an understanding that any freshman, regardless of skill and experience, has room for growth in writing that deserves specific attention.
The general education requirements at Georgetown, although at times cumbersome, are a reminder of our university’s commitment to educating the whole person. Writing is a useful skill for almost any course or job, and we’re pleased that the university and the English department are pushing it to the forefront of our academic focus.