USG Administrator Says Government/Constitution Requirement Restored

Phil Kent

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

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Several months ago University System of Georgia (USG) chief academic officer, Dr. Tristan Denley, floated a plan to reduce core courses students must take upon enrollment. It included abolition of the American government requirement— POLS 1101, which incorporates study of the U.S. Constitution and federalism. Yesterday, however, Denley made news. He told this writer that not as many core courses will be reduced and that POLS 1101 will not be undermined after all.

Criticism had been mounting over aspects of Denley’s proposal since it was presented to state lawmakers and to his bosses, the University System Board of Regents. Over the course of three months various Regents told InsiderAdvantage they either weren’t aware of the full extent of Denley’s initial plan or they were flat-out opposed.

One USG government instructor contacted in March by InsiderAdvantage said: “I’m mainly concerned with the negative impact this is going to have on our college students. Many of my students lack a fundamental grasp of American government and constitutional principles. After taking my class, they at least have a cursory understanding of these issues and their importance to good citizenship. Without this class they would remain as ill-informed as they are when they walk into my class on the first day of the semester.”

This instructor, who wished to remain anonymous, was backed by a statement from the Political Science Regents’ Advisory Committee:

“… (O)n behalf of all political science faculty in public universities in the University System of Georgia, (we) firmly resolve that the goal of encouraging civic participation and awareness is best met by requiring all USG universities and colleges to ensure their graduates earn a passing grade in a core curriculum course that examines and discusses the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions on a continuous basis throughout the semester. The course that offers the most consistent and comprehensive analysis and evaluation of both these Constitutions, as well as the governmental institutions, civil liberties, and participative institutions and avenues for encouraging responsible citizenship in America is POLS 1101, ‘Introduction to American Government.”

Denley first proposed cutting the number of core credit hours from 42 to 33. Courses in math, science, history and other subjects would have remained in the curriculum but critics complained there would less time devoted to them. In response, Denley told this writer yesterday that, due to “continuing feedback and changes during this process,” there have been revisions and the core credit hour reduction now will not go as low as 33. “We really want a structure that prepares students for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Denley says he continues to seek input from various administrators and faculty at all of Georgia’s 26 taxpayer-supported colleges and universities throughout the rest of the year. “A revised curriculum proposal will probably go before the Regents sometime in 2021,” he told this writer.

Phil Kent is the CEO & Publisher of InsiderAdvantage and James magazine.