As a veteran of the Virginia Tech Engineering Program I had the chance to battle amongst the trees of the Tech’s Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE).  Of the seven arenas’ only four were not spelled out in my Enlistment | Contract and I am proud to say that I took full advantage of my 16 credits of freedom.  I chose my optional skirmishes as follows:

COMM 1014 (3cr. Area 3), ECON 2005 (3cr. Area 3), TA 2014 (3cr. Area 2), FA 2004 (1cr. Area 6), NR 3954 (3cr. Area 3 & 3cr. Area 2))

These are simply a set of symbols which contain little to no meaning to you as the reader unless you happened to have taken one of these courses.

The CLE’s are described as “Comprising 25 – 30% of an undergraduate’s credits toward graduation” and if the requirements for each subcategory are summed you will uncover that 36 credits are required to complete the CLE’s.  I wonder if this might be a bit misleading because while 36 credits make up 28% of the Mechanical Engineering’s required 130 credits I only consider that 16 of those credits as pushed me outside of my required course load.

That means that only 12% of my education here at Tech was devoted to this “Vital Component of my undergraduate education”.  What do they mean by Vital? How important is it to develop into a well-rounded professional when trying to get employed or is it more important to do a deep dive in your subject area?  I didn’t know so I’d thought I’d look around.

Here is what I discovered:

Credit Hours




Scientific   Reasoning and Discovery

Area 4


Writing and Discourse

Area 1


Ideas, Cultural Traditions, and Values

Area 2


Society and Human Behavior

Area 3


Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning

Area 6


Critical Issues in a Global Context

Area 7


Creativity and the Aesthetic Experience

Area 6

Certain Areas are weighted more heavily than others.  Why is only 1 cr. committed to creativity and eight times that to Scientific Reasoning?

 I uncovered two sites that masquerade as the homepage for a committee known as the UCCLE and discovered a schedule of meetings and list of minutes indicating that there is a “strong desire for ( A complete change) –to consider where the university might be going in the future and fundamentally restructure the CLE in accordance with that future trajectory.”

In an attempt to uncover what the university intends to do during this change I started to explore some meeting minutes and discovered that the postings for those minutes are not up to date on either site.  The first shows the last entry in 2011 and the later in October of 2012.  I am curious as to what has been going on since their October meeting and why I have had trouble tracking it down.  I guess time will tell what the Controllable Learning Experiment decides the future of Virginia Tech’s Curriculum for Liberal Education looks like.

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