At NDSU, some required courses may be out

North Dakota State University is considering a significant change to its education program that would allow students to get credit in a subject without actually taking a course in the subject.

Students would still be required to take some specific courses — English 102, for example — but other credits would be absorbed into other classes, Fargo Forum reports.

Required credits for critical thinking, for example, could be obtained in a pottery class, the paper says.

“If a student knew how the person making the pot thought about making a pot and creating it, that would count as critical reasoning,” said Dennis Cooley, president of the faculty senate.

This is the sort of thing that can get some educators worked up, and some of them are.

“What the hell are we thinking?” faculty member Tom Isern writes on his blog, History RFD. ” We are a Carnegie 100 university aspiring to the Association of American Universities, and we don’t want to meet minimum requirements? Please, friends and colleagues, let’s be better than that. We are better than that.”

The faculty senate president also acknowledges that students will be siloed, taking only a narrow range of courses. “So very powerful majors will be able to take care of all the education within that major, or almost all the education within that major, and so students have no breadth of understanding,” Cooley says.

There’s also concern about whether credits accumulated at NDSU would be recognized at any other institution, should a student decide to transfer.

The policy, which is only being considered right now, violates North Dakota University System’s policy governing general education.