Editorial: Diverse classes are integral to liberal education

The Oak Leaf

SRJC is considering the addition of a course on Islam for the Fall 2011 semester, which the Oak Leaf thinks is long overdue. This course would join existing classes that cover Christianity, Judaism, and other world religions to give students the opportunity to study people and belief systems that, though maybe not our own, influence the world we live in.

Understanding Islam is more relevant today than ever, with the U.S. embroiled in two wars with peoples who not only fight for political and social reasons, but for religious beliefs as well. One of the important ideas to understand is that radical Islamic groups don’t define Islam.

However, understanding Islam is crucial to understanding the socio-political reality where these groups can take shape and gain power. The more that students learn about the world we live in and the people who we as a country must interact with now and in the future, the better we will be prepared to find peaceful common ground.

However, like many other classes, school budget cuts threaten to cut the Islam class. While losing a course in Islamic studies would be unfortunate, it is indicative of the greater loss of class diversity that budget cuts have brought.

An integral part of the California university system is the idea that students receive a liberal education, that we learn about a lot of different stuff in addition to a chosen focus. It’s the reason that general education requirements exist in the first place. Liberal education can’t exist without a diverse selection of classes, and though course diversity is certainly not gone at SRJC, it has been negatively affected in the last few years.

Often the most interesting classes are the ones that focus on specific topics outside the mainstream courses, and these are the first classes to get cut. It’s unfortunate because it’s interesting subjects and classes that drive undecided students to choose a major or career path.

SRJC’s lone robotics class is a prime example of such a class. Though it may seem like a niche class for those inclined towards engineering, it’s also where students can learn the practical aspects of robotics through creativity. It already has the “coolness factor” of building a working robot, but it serves as a fun introduction to a specialized branch of engineering.

There’s no blame that hasn’t already been placed somewhere for SRJC’s current budget woes, but it’s important to stay aware of what SRJC is really losing. Trouble getting into necessary classes for transfer is one thing, but students should remember that the ultimate goal of college isn’t to jump through hoops for a piece of paper; it’s to acquire a well-rounded education.