Summary of GMP Revision Listening Sessions

Report on Listening Sessions

Background: At the request of COAD and the Provost and in complete agreement, the GMP Redesign Committee held four “Listening Sessions”

1 November 2019 (Friday) 2:00–3:30 PM Hamilton Campus Wilks 200
(This included a Web Ex with Middletown as well)

5 November 2019 (Tuesday) 4:30–6:00 PM Oxford Campus McGuffy 218

8 November 2019 (Friday) 2:00–3:30 PM Oxford Campus FSB 0026

14 November 2019 (Thursday) 4:30–6:00 PM Oxford Campus LAWS 301

Preparation: With the help of our colleague, Michael Bailey-Van Kuren, the committee identified three key questions and discussed best practices for effective Listening Sessions. With Michael’s help, we tried to extend participants answers by asking for further clarification or through additional questions. Each Listening team consisted of three members of the GMP Revision Committee. Along with the face-to-face discussions, we also distributed a one-page anonymous survey for participants who might wish to comment further. This survey asked the same three central questions:

  1. What works well with the current plan?
  2. What does not work well?
  3. What would you change or add?

Publicizing the Sessions: We took a multiple modes approach to advertising the Listening Sessions:

  1. a flyer that was distributed electronically and by hand
  2. direct appeal to various groups, including: Student Advisory groups, CDAs, and faculty groups.
  3. The Provost “Weekly 3” from October 24th to November 13th. In the current “Weekly Three” we have posted the link for the survey as well.
  4. The flyer and information also were available on the Office of Liberal Education website

Summary comments: Because we have extended the comment period for the survey, this report reflects only the notes of the face-to-face listening sessions. With the December 9th closing date, we will review and assemble the additional comments from faculty, students and staff.

Attendance: Participation varied from 8-20 participants for each session. The composition of the sessions included faculty, staff, some students, administrators and associate deans from various colleges.

General Sense of the Plan’s efficacy

  • There was some concern about why the plan was being revised. At each session, we explained that this change was part of the Strategic Plan (see STRATEGIC PLAN Recommendation 17) and not initiated by the Liberal Education Council. We understand that the new plan has only been in place for 4 years.
  • Good variety of courses. Some opportunities to do cross/inter-disciplinary work. Breadth of requirements. Variety of topics, ways of thinking. Within each category, except FND I, options for fulfilling it. Leads to exploration, even for student who thinks they have a plan.
  • GMP helps with the students who do not know how to explore. We can say; “Take these courses; it will satisfy a requirement, no matter what your major ends up being.” Some schools will not let you declare a major in the first year for that reason—have to explore. Many students feel pressured to pick a major before they know what they are doing; the GMP at least allows them some wiggle room.
  • Areas of Concern
  1. There is wide agreement that the current plan is complex, diffuse and hard to explain. There is no central idea, or easy pitch. The sense that students are simply “checking” boxes is widely shared.

Many find it difficult to propose GMP courses, especially study abroad proposal paperwork red tape/bog down when trying to create a course.

There also seems to be a lack of buy-in for new courses in several units. Rather, there is the suggestion that more courses means a less robust General Education plan. Meanwhile, how do we innovate and create interdisciplinary opportunities, if we do not have a wide base from which to choose? More offerings are an advantage for students. Concern that to innovate you have to get rid of things, i.e. courses, majors, etc. Losing GMP courses can be detrimental to dept. survival, especially for smaller departments. Courses becomes more relevant if they can break down silos and reach other areas, this has an impact on employment by providing hands on experience.

Others feel the plan is too complex and needs to be simplified. They believe the plan needs to be a plan you can explain in 5 minutes. If we believe in breadth, then cut a lot—everything except distribution requirements. At some schools, you will have students who will voluntarily give themselves breadth—not sure, that is true here. Push students to explore a variety of areas. Then leave it up to depts. to do their programs well.

Students do not understand that the GMP is designed to span over their entire college experience. They equate it with MPF I-V. Options for completing AW, senior capstone—they do not understand.

Some units also feel that the current plan is very “humanities” centered with fewer requirements outside of those areas such as computing, business, or health.

  • Competencies: There was a lot of discussion about the additional competencies and how unclear and inapplicable they are. Few faculty use them as part of their SLOs and few students understand what they are or why they are important.

One attendee suggested that we might think about simplifying the competencies, perhaps even returning to our original four pillars that seemed unified and clear.

Another suggested that competencies could be “owned” by particular departments or programs rather than the GMP.

  • Student Learning Outcomes are important

Conversations about soft skills, we need to be clearer about what we are doing, what we are teaching.

SLOs or competencies need to be framed so that students can understand them and talk about them.

  • Thematic Sequences: Many participants believe they are cumbersome, unclear and sometimes difficult for students to complete. Are we proposing a Mini minor? Something that can go on the transcript? However, it needs to be outside the major. Something that allows students to get all of the skills they need for the 21st century. TS is often an afterthought rather that a true interdisciplinary experience. Often, the TS, especially the self-designed, is something just tacked on at the end of their career.

Others participants were fine with the TS as it is, and/or feared that eliminating it could also stifle interdisciplinary ideas and lead to further silos in departments that currently control all aspects of their GMP including the TS. If not a TS, they suggested some kind of cross-disciplinary experience that would enable students to step outside their comfort zone.

  • Senior Capstone: All agreed that the SC is important, but there are problems. Do we have a sufficient number of capstones? Concern about departments or programs that require a specific capstone. Likewise, the problem with capstones that have prerequisites. Should capstones be limited to a major? If yes, how can it be both a culminating experience for majors and interdisciplinary?

If the Capstone is the culmination of the well-rounded the student, help the students imagine how they can take this further. Maybe learning something from the Honors thesis. Create a strong student/instructor bond. Cohort? That we use the capstone of a cohort.

Capstone in the major as part of the major. Student should have a choice if they plan to continue in their field, but if they are interested in an interdisciplinary capstone, they should be permitted to take one in another department. What is it that you need in our graduates? Employers. Those skills are probably not going to be disciplinary specific,

  • Advanced Writing: While most agree that we want to keep this. There was some discussion about how requiring the AW to be taught in a specific major, minimalizes the expertise of the faculty of that department because they are teaching writing instead of their field.

Students do not always understand that the AW is part of the GMP, they associate with a major rather than Liberal Education. There is also concern that the AW, in its current form, is highly prescriptive with few options to innovate.

  • Global and Intercultural Perspectives: While there was broad consensus to keep both areas, some suggested that the two could be combined. There still seems to be confusion about how the two categories are distinct.

Faculty concerns

  1. Question of transfer credit. College Credit Plus. ESL students. Sometimes difficult to bring those students up to speed. There is a noticeable unevenness in student learning with transfer credits. Is there any way to limit the TAG? Probably not.
  2. Worry that the new plan will be even more complex than the old one. Why can’t we just review the non-working areas of the current plan rather than creating an entirely new one?
  3. Concern that too much flexibility could lead to people teaching courses for which they are unqualified. Alternatively, that faculty will be even more restricted.
  4. Equal concern that if the “signature” experience for Miami is delegated to divisions, it may become diffuse and no longer central to Miami’s brand.


  1. Creating a unified narrative about the GMP. Response to the world that is changing. They need to have the skills that come with this change. Be able to compete in the global environment, be marketable. Giving them some skills that other people do not have. Well rounded. Not the commodification of what you are doing now. Need to have the skills to adapt. Not to be too skill oriented. To understand and to articulate this to others. Instill a sense of autonomy from our students as well. Maybe it is not just an employer’s perspective. Our job is to produce well-educated students. Universal Values. Need a more common experience. Education for your life. Learning for life.
  2. Along this line, we need a clearer definition of what we mean by “Liberal Education” that could help us begin to understand better how to create the best possible experiences for our students.
  3. Create a more flexible program that allows students to understand better how the General Education requirements are interrelated.
  4. Think about a core set of themes that are more relevant to today’s students such as, Sustainability, Global Belonging, and Entrepreneurship.
  5. Involve the Career Center in shaping the narrative.
  6. Provide opportunities for more team-taught courses.
  7. Offer more non-prerequisite courses in various departments so that students outside those majors can better explore the options.
  8. Return the GMP requirements and assessment to units and make the LEC simply an advisory board.
  9. We all have our thing we think is important. Ditto for employers. However, the Miami Plan takes choices from students. Encourage them to do EL. Encourage them to go global. But don’t require it. These additional classes cost money. We need to resist the temptation to pack in all the things we know are valuable. Advise students to do it. Maybe make it part of major—put this on the depts. Simplify the process, give the students more choices.
  10. We want students to know what critical thinking is. We used to have four pillars for Liberal Education. Students had a language they could use to explain it. Miami Plan gives us a context to say: “I got these skills,” so there needs to be oversight to make sure that students get them. What does critical thinking mean in a Holocaust course? A biology course? That is one thing original Miami Plan did: You had to tell the LEC, here’s how we’re going to build “these skills.” We, students, and employers have to know what the Miami Plan is, what are the pieces that have to be there?


As “listeners,” we were encouraged by the mainly positive and constructive ideas, questions and comments. The majority of the participants were trying to think beyond their particular niche or discipline toward more expansive possibilities. Most understood the value of creating more interdisciplinary courses even if it did mean some loss of specificity. Many also put the students first, beyond their particular needs. This willingness to move beyond specific territorial concerns or personal preferences in favor of a more robust and meaningful experience for students is, of course, a hallmark of Miami’s faculty. The willingness of many to think creatively and value the work of one another speaks to our higher purpose as an institution. Many of the ideas put forth already have informed the committee’s work and we look forward to future opportunities to call again upon our students and colleagues to engage in further mutually respectful and productive discourse.

As “listeners” we also agreed that the GMP is poorly understood and that the Liberal Education Committee’s role is not clear. Many think we are in charge of curriculum, we are not, set prerequisites, we do not, and are responsible for eliminating Thematic Sequences and courses, we are not. Nor are we tasked with course reduction for any curriculum model, responsible for identifying resources or limiting faculty regarding how they choose to teach their courses.

As a public institution, we are mandated by the Ohio Department of Higher Education to follow a prescriptive general education distribution that consists of 24 set hours over a wide-range of disciplines with an additional 12 credits within those areas. We can propose additional requirements beyond these 36 hours, but they need to be considered carefully.

Many also confuse departmental/divisional requirements with those of the GMP. There is no language requirement in the GMP and we do not restrict what lecturers can teach in a given department. While some of these misconceptions can be clarified with a more articulate plan, others are the responsibility of individual units.

We want to conclude this overview with our sincere gratitude to those of you who were able to share your concerns and ideas with us at these sessions. We also want to encourage you to share any further ideas with us either in person or through the on-line survey at this link: