Editorial: AC Doesn't Need Reform

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The university is attempting to broaden the American Cultures requirement as early as next semester by molding more courses to fill AC parameters.

In the long run, this will defeat the purpose of AC, which requires classes to cover three different ethnic groups in depth. If the courses are not a good fit to begin with, the university should not force them to meet AC requisites.

The administration is considering ushering courses such as Economics 1 and Nutritional Science 10, which currently do not teach extensively about three cultures, into the AC fold. These classes are general requirements already. Giving them an American Cultures focus won't do justice to the cultures studied and demeans the reasoning behind the graduation requirement.

If the administration considers AC a valuable component of a UC Berkeley education, they ought to make AC courses focused, detailed and informative, so taking such a course is worth the student's while.

The intent of American Cultures is to broaden students' horizons, to give them knowledge of other cultures that they might not otherwise learn about. Including courses like Economics 1 so students aren't forced to take a variety of classes defeats the core purpose of AC.

Courses that previously had little or no focus on culture would have to alter their curricula and materials dramatically. Attempting to teach about three cultures in a class not tailored to do so could disrupt the core material and flow of the course.

Some say integrating a cultural perspective into departments like engineering and nutritional science is feasible and helps students put a cultural perspective into a science-related major.

But while exploring outside their academic comfort zone, students discover a plethora of ideas not related to their specific area of study. The AC requirement is an integral part of that learning experience.

If administrators think the AC requirement is too difficult for students to fulfill, then they should get rid of it. But if they are trying to enhance the effectiveness of AC courses, the last thing the university should do is water it down.


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