2012-2013 UCC Report
Members of the Committee: Susan Birren, Michael Chernin (Fall 2012), James Chin (Spring 2013), Jonathan DeCoster, Seth Fraden, Laura Goldin, Lys Joseph, Adrianne Krstansky, Sue Lovett, Susan Parker, Esther Ratner (Fall 2012), Suzanne Rothman, David Sherman (Spring 2013), David Wright
Ex Officio: Kim Godsoe, Mark Hewitt, Elaine Wong
- Possible 2012-2013 Agenda Items
- Procedures for Conduct of UCC Meetings
- Appointment of Subcommittee for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors
- Approval of New Study Abroad Programs
- Review of Summer 2013 Justice Brandeis Semester Proposals
- Report on Previously Approved Fall and Summer 2013 Justice Brandeis Semesters
- Discussion of the Strategic Planning Committee Framework
- Summer Study Abroad Credit for International Undergraduate Students Studying in their Home Countries
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Comparative Literature (COML)
- Overall Curriculum Planning Across the University
- Report on Course Title Overlap
- Report on Approved Independent Interdisciplinary Majors
- Proposal for New Two-Credit Internship Course
- Report from the Review Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Biological Physics
- Proposal for a Two-Credit Practicum for “Leader Scholar Communities (LSC)”
- Report from the Review Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Film, Television, and Interactive Media
- Proposal for a New Degree Combination: BS/BA and MBA
- Proposed Changes to History Major Requirements
- Proposed Changes to the Biology Major Requirements
- Proposed Changes to Physics BA Requirements
- Report from the Review Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES)
- Proposal for an Addendum to the EL 94 Practicum
- Rabb School of Continuing Studies Graduate Professional Courses for Brandeis Seniors
- Report from the Review Committee on the Environmental Studies Program
Among the topics on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee’s 2012-2013 agenda were reports from the Standing Committees on Interdepartmental Programs on Comparative Literature; Biological Physics; Film, Television, and Interactive Media; Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies; and Environmental Studies; approval of new study abroad programs; reports on approved Independent Interdisciplinary Majors; Justice Brandeis Semester proposals; and summer school credit for international undergraduate students studying in their home countries. Suggested topics from committee members included classroom diversity (graduate and undergraduate students, international students with different cultural understandings, and/or students with a range of backgrounds), use of technology in the classroom, general education requirements, and strategic planning initiatives related to the curriculum. The UCC also decided to consider “course overlap” in relation to overall curriculum planning across the university. Could holes in the curriculum be addressed by more coordinated planning of electives and adjunct hires, across departments?
The UCC reviewed procedures for the conduct of its 2012-2013 meetings.
David Wright and Laura Goldin volunteered to serve on the joint UCC/COAS subcommittee to review Independent Interdisciplinary Majors.
In October, J. Scott Van Der Meid, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad, presented a new program at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzlyia in Herzlyia, Israel, for the provisional approval of the UCC. This program, which meets the criteria for new program approval (academic credentials, program duration and credit hours, language requirements, student services, course offerings, faculty and peer institutional support), was granted provisional approval by the committee.
In January, Van Der Meid presented two new programs for the provisional approval of the UCC: Globalinks/University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia; and Globalinks/Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. These programs, which also meet the criteria for new program approval, were also granted provisional approval.
In April, Kim Godsoe, Dean of Academic Services, presented three other new programs which provide Arabic language study, and meet the criteria for new program approval, in addition to health and safety standards. The UCC granted provisional approval to: IES Abroad/Istanbul: Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies at Bogazici University/Sabanci University in Turkey, AMIDEAST in Egypt, and AMIDEAST in Jordan.
The UCC reviewed and approved two new summer Justice Brandeis Semesters: “American Democracy: Version 2.0” and “Food, Lifestyle and Health” presented by Amber Thacher, Program Manager for Brandeis-Led Study Programs. The latter program on Food and Health is an eight-week program consisting of two Biology courses, one of which includes a food lab, plus an HSSP course, and is designed primarily for HSSP majors, although it may also be of interest to rising sophomore Biology majors. The American Democracy program would offer two Politics courses, followed by either an internship or independent research experience in a ten-week, 12 credit JBS.
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Two previously approved Justice Brandeis Semesters will also be offered in the summer or fall of 2013: “Environmental Health and Justice” in the fall, and “Mobile Applications and Game Development” in the summer.
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Discussion of the Strategic Planning Committee Framework
Associate Provost Dan Perlman and Susan Birren, in their roles as members of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, asked for feedback on the “Strategic Planning Committee Framework” document, especially those aspects pertaining to the curriculum. Committee members asked: What will be the menu or spectrum of intensive research/academic/creative opportunities that we want Brandeis students to experience, and how will we reconcile the offering of such experiences with faculty workloads? Regarding resource needs, UCC members noted that our outdated, undersized, overbooked classrooms (e.g., Gerstenzang) are a huge problem. We need classrooms larger than 250 seats, more classrooms in the 80-100 range, and other flexible classrooms for smaller, intensive active learning. The arts also need safe physical space for creative work.
What might be the role of online learning or “flipped” classes? Additional resources are needed for experimentation and exploration with technology (not just videotaping lectures). Committee members also discussed how future interdisciplinary foci (e.g., Biomedicine and Global Health, Engineering, Integrated Arts) might be identified and supported by the university. “Integrated” learning (for example, “double credit” team-taught courses) and the balance of skills-oriented or content-oriented teaching could also be further discussed. Undergraduates noted that they want to find their own way into interdisciplinarity, and don’t want more requirements or restrictions. Graduate students, however, may want disciplinary focus, in preparation for future careers.
“Scaling up” Brandeis’s most intense academic experiences will require investment in resources. The “Framework” seemed vague to some committee members, and failed to recognize the contributions of contract faculty with significant teaching loads.
Allyson Goose, Study Abroad Advisor, was invited to discuss the increase over the past three years in the number of students who are enrolling in “study abroad” programs in their home countries of China, Korea, and Panama. 34% of all students participating in summer study abroad now study in their home countries, as defined by citizenship of the student. In all the summer programs attended by these students, courses were taught in English, though foreign language classes were available for those interested in learning the language. Summer study abroad, like Brandeis summer school but unlike summer school taught at other universities in the United States, may count for numeric credit (that is, toward the 128 credits required for graduation) as well as for purpose credit (used to satisfy major, minor and general education requirements). The original intention in 2008 of allowing summer study abroad to count toward numeric credit was to encourage some form of study abroad for those students who could not study abroad during an academic term, due to their academic programs or co-curricular commitments. Most students participating in summer study abroad programs enroll in only one such program, earning eight credits. A student from New Jersey or California who enrolls in a summer school program in their home town or state would not be allowed to earn numeric credit. Due to this lack of parity, the UCC approved a motion to no longer allow numeric credit for international students enrolled in summer study abroad programs in their home countries, as defined by citizenship. Students will have the option of petitioning for exceptions through the Executive Council of the Committee on Academic Standing.
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The UCC discussed the revised program review report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs as well as the program self-study and a new response to the review report from COML Chair David Powelstock. Before agreeing to invite Powelstock and other faculty on the COML executive committee to a meeting in the spring term to discuss the next steps for COML, UCC members expressed their concerns about the focus and direction of the program, its ability to attract majors, its current curriculum (specifically the core course, COML100a, and the three literature courses required in a language other than English), and the leadership of and faculty commitment to the program. The committee was only willing to continue the program if it was confident that such issues were being resolved by the program faculty; the meeting with these faculty was delayed to allow sufficient time for their response and planning.
Specific questions which committee members asked COML faculty to address included: What will be the role of cultural studies in the major, if continued? Is the program too narrowly defined to be of interest to students? Does the requirement that students complete three upper level literature courses in a language other than English prevent students from considering or completing the COML major, and should this requirement be modified? In what ways will COML 100 be remodeled? Is there more than one faculty member who could and would teach this course? Is there sufficient faculty support and leadership for a COML program to thrive in the future, given the faculty’s other commitments?
UCC members agreed that the core course must be a success in order for the program to thrive, and were disappointed to learn that a remodeled COML 100 was not being offered in spring of 2013. The COML curriculum at other schools often offers two or three tracks, one preparing students for graduate school, and the other emphasizing cultural studies. Are program faculty in agreement about needed changes?
In the spring, David Powelstock, Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature and Chair of the Comparative Literature Program; Steve Dowden, Professor of German; Matthew Fraleigh, Assistant Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture; Sue Lanser, Professor of English, Women's and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature; Michael Randall, Professor of French and Comparative Literature; and Harleen Singh, Helaine and Alvin Allen Assistant Professor of Literature, all members of the COML executive committee, discussed their response to UCC concerns and their proposal to revise the title and curriculum of the Comparative Literature program.
The COML executive committee used the review process as an opportunity to rethink the curriculum and to creatively address problems; all were energized and enthusiastic about the proposed changes. The COML 100 core course was reimagined to introduce the comparative process from a humanities vantage point and better serve the purposes of an introductory gateway course. It will be taught in the next three years by Harleen Singh, Matthew Fraleigh and Sue Lanser and will showcase members of the executive committee who will present topics in their areas of expertise (e.g., Translation and Culture, Narrative in the Global Context) in units of three to four classes. The executive committee also anticipates synergies for the major with the new Masters in Comparative Humanities and the Mandel Humanities Center.
Proposed changes to the curriculum maintain the same total number of courses (nine, including COML 100), but reduce the number of upper level literature courses requiring work in a non-English language from three to two, and now allow courses involving texts and/or films. The number of COML courses is reduced from four to three, and three upper level elective courses in literature or a related field, as approved by the UAH, are also required. The new Bulletin text will explicitly state that majors are often able to satisfy the non-English requirement with study abroad transfer credits. The minor in comparative literature and culture will requires five courses (COML 100a; one upper-level course taught in a language other than English, involving work with texts and/or films; two upper-level courses designated as COML; and one upper-level elective course in literature or a related field as approved by the UAH). To reflect the program’s broader focus, a title change of “Comparative Literature and Culture” is also proposed.
The executive committee raised a concern that many courses which include and compare works originally written in two or more languages are being taught without the COML designation, which they feel reduces the visibility of the program and undermines its identity and status. To remedy this, they have initiated conversations among chairs of humanities departments and programs to resolve course designation issues.
UCC members asked about target numbers for both enrollment in the core course and the major (10-12 students in COML 100 and eventually 15 students in the major). Recruitment efforts (utilizing UDRs and reaching out to first year advisors and students studying abroad) were also discussed. The UCC approved continuation of the newly renamed Comparative Literature and Culture program for a period of three years, but asked the executive committee to ensure that courses and electives approved for the major and minor are listed in the Bulletin, along with a statement that other courses may also be approved by the UAH. The proposed curriculum changes, endorsed by the Humanities School Council, were also approved.
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Committee members discussed ways in which departments and programs could integrate and coordinate their courses, while reducing duplication and redundancy. Given current resources, the university cannot afford to offer courses that appear to “compete” with one another, resulting in small enrollments in each course. What information would be needed to do a comparative analysis of the curriculum? Department chairs have suggested that the Registrar’s office could use key word searches to create and distribute lists of course “overlaps.”
Departments currently submit their preliminary course schedules for the following academic year by December 1 via “MAAX,” which is not an excellent reporting tool. Few administrators know how to utilize it to search for course overlaps. In addition, new courses are frequently added after the December deadline, with some courses being added days before the early enrollment period, and the beginning of each term. Program chairs often learn only after early enrollment has begun that cross-listed or newly approved courses are scheduled in the same time blocks, or that an unexpected number of courses with similar titles are being offered in the same term. Early enrollment periods were created to enable programs to drop under enrolled courses, but this is not always a smooth practice. Better sharing of information might enable departments to shift the term in which competing courses are being offered. The university could also mandate that all new courses, with exceptions only for new full time hires, be approved by an earlier and more enforced date.
UCC members have found that key word searches are only able to be done by semester, or by department, due to the way in which our web sites are designed and segmented. Faculty who are attempting to avoid course overlap would appreciate the ability to search not only titles, but also course descriptions, over an entire academic year’s worth of course offerings, across all departments. Associate Registrar Andrew Marx, who attended this meeting in the place of Mark Hewitt, was asked to add as soon as possible to the new course approval form a new section, which would ask those proposing new courses to search for and identify content overlap (course titles and descriptions) with existing courses. The form would also add a new box asking instructors to identify appropriate key word searches related to the proposed course. The Registrar’s office was also asked to institute a new public website listing all newly approved courses.
UCC members were asked to suggest key words that might be used by the registrar in a test run searching for course overlap in a past semester or academic year. Eventually, the Registrar’s office might be asked to identify course overlaps via key word searches, and to share this information with departments in late December or early January, so that department chairs and administrators could make early adjustments to course schedules for the following year. As new courses are approved, they would also be reviewed for overlap.
At a subsequent meeting, the UCC continued its discussion of ways to assist departments in avoiding course overlap, duplication and redundancy. Committee members asked if course descriptions could be queried for the frequency of text overlap. Associate Registrar Andrew Marx was asked to glean from the lists of keywords provided by UCC members those terms that might be useful for identifying true content overlap, perhaps in a first pass with course titles. Once this test was completed, he informed the committee about useful information that might be obtained and eventually shared with departments. The Registrar’s office is also able to review students’ schedules to identify courses that students tend to take in the same semester, which could also be useful in avoiding scheduling overlaps.
While students might wish to use keywords to assist them in finding courses of interest to them (“if you like this course, you might be interested in the following courses”), the UCC’s first aim will be to test ways to reduce the number of courses offered on the same topic in the same semester. Ideally courses may eventually be searched with links to subject matter, format, teaching evaluations, etc.
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Mark Hewitt later shared three “course overlap” reports, created from searches of titles and descriptions of active courses listed in the Brandeis University Bulletin. A search for word overlaps with “South Asian Culture and Society” showed five two-word overlaps, and almost 120 single word overlaps. A search for the word “gender” resulted in 41 different courses. The word “American” appears in 121 course titles or descriptions. The university offers from 600-700 courses per semester, not including independent study courses. About 500-600 undergraduate courses are offered each semester.
UCC members considered whether or not these or similar reports could be useful to departments trying to avoid course overlap, and inefficient use of teaching resources. Would this extra data mining be used to good effect? The registrar’s office could run reports on specific phrases or words in course titles, sorted by semester, and also provide reports on “overlap” courses that students who enroll in one course tend to take, not just in the same semester but over the course of their college careers. The latter reports could be designed to meet a specific enrollment overlap threshold (e.g., 75% overlap).
Departments are asked to provide information about their curriculum for the next academic year by December 1 of each year, but only 50% of departments meet this deadline. Information continues to trickle in throughout January and February. If departments were able to meet the December 1 deadline, the Registrar’s office could run and share reports about course title and description overlap in two weeks’ time. Chairs could then use this information to make changes to their schedules, but would they be willing to do so? If complete information is not available until February, useful reports cannot be run until March, which is too close to early enrollment to be useful.
Many of these overlaps might be avoided if chairs would talk with one another about their possible course overlaps, but chairs have told the Dean that they do not have the time, nor the appropriate information, to have fruitful conversations. The Dean of Arts and Sciences will discuss the possibility of sharing overlap reports in a useful time frame at a future chairs’ meeting.
In November, Lisa Hardej, the Academic Services IIM Coordinator, reported on the procedures for approving Independent Interdisciplinary Majors. The UCC’s Subcommittee on Independent Interdisciplinary Majors approved the IIM proposals of Gabriella Feingold ‘14, “Theatre for Social Change”; Jessica Goldberg ’13, “Religious Studies”; Michael Kahn ‘15, “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)”; Noam Lekach ‘14, “Colonial/Postcolonial Studies”; and Alex Thomson ‘15, “Public Policy”.
In April, Julia Moffit from Academic Services presented the proposals of five students who were also approved for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors: Josh Berman ’15, “Urban Studies”; Jacklyn Gil ’14, “Peace and Justice Studies”; Ben Schmidt ’14, “Medieval and Renaissance Studies”; Ethan Levy ’15, “Communications and Media Studies”; and Alicia Park ’15, “Cognitive Science.” The UCC then approved a motion allowing the IIM in Italian Studies to require the same number of courses required for the previously discontinued interdepartmental major in Italian Studies, which also aligns with the number of courses required for Romance Studies departmental majors in French and Francophone Studies and Hispanic Studies.
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Jessica Paquin, Assistant Director for Academic Internships, Joseph DuPont, Dean of Career Services, and Sara Shostak, Assistant Professor of Sociology, presented a proposal from the Experiential Learning Committee for a new two-credit internship course created to meet new undergraduate demand for credit-bearing internship experiences. This demand is caused by many factors: business and communications organizations require students to be enrolled in credit-bearing courses; students pursuing more than one internship in the same field cannot enroll in the same internship course twice; some majors/minors do not offer an internship course option; faculty are not always available to supervise independent internship courses; and international students need credit for their internship work authorizations (as an alternative to Optional Practical Training authorizations).
Brandeis now offers a range of four-credit internship options (e.g., “89” or group seminar experiences, “92” or independent internships, “93” or science research internships), and a one- credit summer INT 92g course. All of these experiences were created and/or numbered by the UCC, and feature internship approval, academic learning and mentorship in addition to 100 supervised on-site hours over the course of a term. About 26 departments and programs offer one or more of the four-credit options. The average Brandeis student completes 2.5 internships during their Brandeis studies; about 40% of students complete a credit-bearing internship.
Shostak is an advocate for the new two-credit internship structure because she believes the course will demonstrate support for and meet the needs of students. She knows of many students who seek internships in fields in which faculty are not expert, and notes that the matching process of finding an internship course can be frustrating and time consuming for both students and faculty.
The new course will bring together students for whom field specific internship courses do not exist, and/or enable students to complete both two- and four-credit internship experiences in the same field. It will support a rigorous, academically meaningful experience, which emphasizes reflection and articulating one’s academic strengths, skills and knowledge. Internships will continue to be approved in advance to ensure appropriate advising about credit options, and a substantive experience demonstrated by learning agreements and letters of offer from onsite supervisors; students will thus enroll through “signature access.”
UCC members discussed ways to help the Brandeis community better understand the range of internship options. A new “Internships” section of the course schedule could list all available options each semester. A decision or logic tree and/or flow chart might be created to help students understand their options. Committee members asked: Does this course work well only if it is small? How many sections would we offer in a given term? Section size is expected to be small since most students complete internships in the summer, and this course requires concurrent enrollment with the internship. Some seniors on reduced rate may also enroll in a spring section. All of the usual drop and add deadlines would pertain, and as previously approved by the UCC, students would be allowed to earn credit and pay at the same time.
The committee approved the proposal for a two-credit internship course.
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UCC members discussed reports from the Biological Physics (BP) review committee and program chair. This is the second review of Biological Physics, which was initiated almost ten years ago. The B.S. major is small, with four graduating seniors in the last four years. The program builds on Brandeis’s unique academic strengths and cutting-edge research in this field, and offers one of the very few BP undergraduate majors in the United States. Its faculty have successfully mentored and supported a handful of Brandeis’s strongest science students. The only course designed specifically for the program is a First Year Seminar, which replaced a previous version of the course also designed for prospective first year majors. The course is taught by the chair of the program, Jane’ Kondev, and aims to capture student interest in the exciting concepts majors will eventually tackle after completing the many courses required for the B.S. degree. Program faculty always expected the major to be small and elite, but had hoped it would be a useful recruiting tool for Admissions.
The review committee’s report recommends better coordination of faculty expertise and courses in other departments, as well as the creation of greater awareness of BP to more fully utilize its potential as a recruiting and retention tool. UCC members asked what would happen to the major if the first year course could not be offered regularly in the future, due to staffing considerations. Could the course be offered in a different format, such as a series of guest lectures? Could a post-doc or another instructor lead this course? How could the program or the first year course be publicized more effectively? Would a Biological Physics track in the Physics major (similar to the Chemical Biology track in Chemistry) bring greater awareness of the program to the appropriate students?
UCC members asked that the chair of the program and the chair of the physics department be invited to meet with the committee before taking further action on the program’s renewal.
At a later date, Jané Kondev, chair of Biological Physics, and John Wardle, chair of the Physics department, attended a meeting to discuss matters related to the Biological Physics program preview. There are now four sophomores enrolled in the BP major. Recent graduates have been accepted into top PhD programs, sometimes after “bidding wars” from competing institutions. While Brandeis was once one of a very few universities offering this major, other elite liberal arts college are now signaling their commitment to integrated science by establishing similar programs.
The UCC discussed the role of the FYS core course, other possible instructors for this course, and other means of recruiting students to the major. Committee members continue to admire the strengths of the program and the work of the chair, but felt the program would benefit from more faculty involvement in recruiting majors. The committee approved continuation of the program for a period of four years, contingent on the appointment of a faculty advisory committee consisting of two other professors (one from Biology and the other from another department such as Chemistry or Math) in addition to the chair. Elaine Wong was asked to meet with Kondev and other members of the advisory committee to share UCC recommendations regarding ways in which faculty might share the work of advising majors and annually reaching out to undergraduates to better promote and support Biological Physics. Recruitment suggestions included providing lectures which highlight BP research topics, opportunities and pathways to completion of the major in such introductory courses as PHYS 15a, BIOL 14/22a, and CHEM 11a and/or 15a); this same information could be shared via personal recruitment e-mails. (The registrar's office has volunteered to provide lists of appropriate students who might be sent information about the program). The UCC also asked the Dean of Arts and Sciences to talk with the Admissions office about Biological Physics recruitment efforts, and with Eve Marder about greater science division support for Biological Physics.
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Proposal for a Two-Credit Practicum for “Leader Scholar Communities (LSC)”
The UCC approved a proposal for a free-standing two-credit practicum course required in each semester of residence in Leader Scholar Communities (also known as Living-Learning Communities). This experiential learning course, which focuses on different topics for each LSC, will feature multiple faculty guest presenters and facilitate faculty interaction with first year students, but will be different from other practicum courses in that it will no longer be connected to four-credit “base” courses. As with all practicum courses, students will complete reading, writing and other assignments, and receive letter grades. LSC were piloted this year by the department of Community Living. The university expects to offer three LSC focusing on different topics in 2013-2014. UCC members asked the Dean of Arts and Sciences to establish greater faculty support for the graduate student instructors of future LSC.
The UCC began its discussion of the Review Committee on Interdepartmental Programs’ report on Film, Television, and Interactive Media (FTIM). UCC members discussed the program’s success in enrolling students and in strongly engaging its faculty steering committee, in addition to the review committee’s recommendation to separate undergraduate advising from the chair’s responsibilities.
The members of the FTIM faculty committee were invited to a later UCC meeting to discuss students’ interests and expectations regarding production courses and opportunities and other matters raised in the review report. Alice Kelikian, the Chair of the Film, Television, and Interactive Media program, answered questions from committee members about various aspects of the program. As of early April 2013, FTIM had 53 declared majors and nine minors. About 60% of FTIM majors also have second majors. In response to the UCC’s recommendation, Steve Burg will serve as the Undergraduate Advising Head during the next academic year. Kelikian has served as the study abroad advisor to FTIM majors (most students attend programs in Prague, Sydney or Spain, but in numbers below the university average) and as the independent internship instructor (internships most frequently pertain to production and/or reading scripts). The Brandeis program provides a liberal arts perspective on film in a manner similar to Northwestern or the University of Chicago, as opposed to the curriculum of the production oriented NYU Tisch School or USC. Regarding production courses, only two have enrollment limited to 15, due to the space available in the Getz Media Lab. These two courses accommodate all majors, although some students may have to wait a year before enrolling. All senior thesis projects must be supervised by members of the FTIM executive committee, rather than adjunct faculty. FTIM students are reported to have excellent track records in applying for internships, jobs, and graduate programs (e.g., the USC film school). Regarding the title of the program, how many “interactive media” courses and opportunities are offered? Kelikian stated that she is seeking new appointments in interactive media, which is now referred to as “transmedia” in the field. She also shared research indicating that most faculty in film programs at other institutions have advanced degrees in literature, and not cinema.
The FTIM program is similar to other interdepartmental programs in that the chair assumed all responsibilities in the first years of their leadership. As the program grows, this becomes unsustainable. FTIM would benefit from hiring more faculty with professional connections, as suggested in both the review and self-study reports.
The UCC approved continuance of the FTIM program for an additional five years, after recommending that the FTIM website be revised to more clearly state the liberal arts emphasis of the curriculum. The committee also recommends that the FTIM UAH should aim to distribute advising tasks (e.g., study abroad, advising of majors and minors) as evenly as possible amongst executive committee members. To further distribute teaching and advising responsibilities, the program may wish to consider the future establishment of an FTIM 89 internship seminar, which would have the added benefit of increasing the visibility of film related internships to majors.
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Proposal for a New Degree Combination: BS/BA and MBA
Benjamin Gomes-Casseres, Professor of International Business, presented a proposal for a new degree combination, which would enable Brandeis BS science majors and BA majors (primarily those with business majors or minors) to begin pursuing their IBS MBA degrees by enrolling in a “pre-MBA track” in their senior year, thus completing both the BS or BA and MBA degrees in 5.5 years. This accelerated path enables students to enter the existing MBA program without taking time off for two years of work experience, and benefits IBS by enrolling more top students. The requirements for admission would be either: 1) completion of a science or math major at Brandeis and the “pre‐MBA track” of two applied science courses and two introductory business courses from approved lists, plus some work or professional‐level lab experience; or 2) four advanced business courses, and at least three professional internships, completed in summers or part‐time during the school year. Other admissions requirements would include letters from employers and faculty, an essay, personal interview and GMAT/GRE tests. The courses for each track would come from a set jointly selected by IBS and Arts and Sciences departments in the sciences and in business. The required courses and work experiences are designed to bring “BAMBA” students up to speed with other MBA students, and will count as “transfer” credit toward the 64 credits required for the MBA degree. The requirements also enable the IBS admissions staff to evaluate applicants in terms of their maturity and their development of the professional skills critical to securing a job after the MBA.
UCC members asked if this new degree combination would result in an even larger MBA student population. IBS is expecting the 20-25 students in each track to replace other students so the overall MBA population will remain the same. Will internships provide sufficient work experience, and who will identify the internships and provide advising? For non-science majors, work experience is essential, and some may wish to complete a full semester internship, which would mean that they would complete their MBA six years after first entering Brandeis. These students also be advised to complete internships in each summer after admission to the MBA program. Career services is starting an internship and mentoring program specifically for these students.
The proposal for the combined 5.5 year BA or BS and MBA degrees was approved by the UCC.
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Jane Kamensky, the chair of the history department, presented the department’s proposal to revise requirements for the major by allowing HIST 99d (two honors thesis courses) to count toward the nine courses required for the major, and deleting a chronological distribution requirement (one pre- and one post-1800) and the proviso on p. 245 of the current Bulletin, stipulating that six courses counted toward the major must be taught by HIST faculty and that five courses counted toward the minor must be taught by HIST faculty. These changes are the result of an ongoing departmental review of the strengths and shortcomings of the major, which has enrolled fewer majors in recent years, though course enrollments remain strong. The proposals aim to minimize bureaucracy, maximize flexibility, and encourage more students to pursue honors thesis work, while recognizing that some majors are seeking depth and intensive knowledge of their particular field of interest.
UCC members asked if the department had considered creating “gateway” courses to attract students to the major before approving the proposed changes.
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Susan Lovett, chair of the Biology Curriculum Committee, presented changes to the requirements of the biology BS and BA degrees. These changes aim for flexibility in accommodating different paths to the degrees, and feature a new introductory first year series of three biology courses, which can be taken in any order, without pre- or co-requisites. The curriculum was last revised in 2001 in response to senior survey findings; these changes, much broader in scope and initiated through a division-wide review of the entire science curriculum, continue to address problems identified in 2001 and will better prepare pre-medical students for new MCAT and medical school admission requirements and also benefit biology, biochemistry and neuroscience majors..
The revised BA and BS degrees would both require BIOL 14a; BIOL 15b; BIOL 16a; BIOL 18a,b labs; CHEM 11a,b or CHEM 15a,b; CHEM 18a,b or CHEM 19a,b labs; CHEM 25a,b;
and CHEM 29a,b labs. The BA degree would also require one course from the new Quantitative Course List and five elective courses (at least three from the Biology Elective Group and up to two from the School of Science Elective Group). The BS degree would also require two courses from the Quantitative Course List and six elective courses (at least four from the Biology Elective Group and up to two from the School of Science Elective Group), in addition to PHYS 10a,b or PHYS 11a,b or PHYS 15a,b; and PHYS 18a,b or PHYS 19a,b labs. Courses used to fulfill the Quantitative Course requirement (e.g., Biostatistics, Math or Computer Sciences courses numbered 10 or higher, HSSP 100b, QBIO courses, etc.) could not also be used for Elective credit.
The biology curriculum committee began by reviewing the curricula of 20 peer institutions, and confirming that Brandeis was one of only two schools from this cohort without a first year biology sequence designed for the major. Brandeis also offers many fewer upper-level laboratory courses than other institutions, and requires fewer biology courses for its degrees (eight for the BS excluding labs, where nine or 10 is more common) and the most non-biology courses (nine plus six labs, mostly in chemistry), thus requiring more non-biology department courses than biology department courses. Most biology majors at other institutions require three or fewer chemistry courses (often two semesters of organic and one general chemistry course). This proposal will expand the number of biology courses required for both degrees, and reduce the emphasis on non-biology over biology courses, especially for the BA degree.
The current core sequence of BIOL 22b and 22a, taken in the sophomore year, is focused on molecular and cell biology, reflecting the research interests of the faculty; it does not provide a full introduction to the breadth of biology. Students can graduate without being introduced to evolution, a topic faculty consider central to biology, and which is no longer covered well in high schools. The new sequence includes BIOL14a (Genetics and Genomics, which will replace BIOL 22a (Genetics and Molecular Biology), BIOL 15b (Cells and Organisms), which will concentrate on cell biology and physiology and replace BIOL 22b (Cell Structure and Function), and BIOL 16a (Evolution and Biodiversity), which will cover evolution, diversity, behavior and ecology and replace BIOL60b (Evolution). These courses will share policies, pedagogy, and integrated content, incorporating elements of chemistry, biochemistry and physics, and developing quantitative skills and data analysis. Students could begin with the topics that most interest them, and mid year students could take one of these courses in the spring. Enabling students to study biology in the first year will also allow students to begin taking biology electives in the second year, and allow neuroscience and biochemistry majors to enroll in their core courses (which have BIOL prerequisites) and electives a year earlier. Next year, to transition to the new curriculum, the BIOL 14a and 15b courses will be offered in both semesters.
In the new degree requirements, BCHM100a is no longer required for the BS degree, though premedical students will probably take it and count it towards elective credit. The physics requirement is dropped for the BA degree, though majors may take physics courses as School of Science electives. If the chemistry department develops a suitable three semester general chemistry/organic chemistry sequence to replace its current four semester series, biology will drop its chemistry requirement to three semesters. The new simpler elective system allows more choice and a more flexible and interdisciplinary degree path.
UCC members asked what percentage of majors obtain BS degrees. Approximately 120 majors graduate each year, and about 60% earn the BS degree. Will the new curriculum create a more difficult first year for science majors? At most other institutions, prospective biology students enroll in first year chemistry, biology and math courses; in the new curriculum, students could begin with only biology courses, or enroll in biology in the second year.
The UCC approved the new biology BS and BA requirements, pending school council approval.
Proposed Changes to Physics BA Requirements
John Wardle and David Roberts from the physics department presented changes to the requirements for the physics BA degree, which would eliminate the PHYS 31b (Quantum Mechanics II) requirement, allow PHYS 100a (Classical Mechanics) to substitute for PHYS 30a (Electricity and Magnetism), allow two courses from outside physics which are part of a topical focus to count towards the major, and reduce the number of required laboratory and math courses. The new BA requirements would include: PHYS 10a,b, 11a,b or 15a,b; PHYS 20a; PHYS 31a; PHYS 40a; PHYS 30a or PHYS 100a; two semesters of physics laboratory courses (a year of PHYS 18a,b or 19a,b counts as one semester towards this requirement); one semester of MATH numbered 15 or higher; and three additional courses, at least one of which is a physics course numbered higher than 20, designed around some topical focus (e.g., philosophy of science, science policy, or science journalism) and chosen in consultation with and subject to approval by the student's major advisor.
These changes aim to make the BA more flexible and attractive for double majors or those students planning careers in fields such as business, patent law, science journalism or education, but not intending to pursue a PhD in physics. Twelve total courses would now be required for the BA degree, but the number of required courses for the minor (six courses) and BS degree (17 courses) would remain the same. BS degree candidates currently outnumber BA degree candidates (12 to 3 graduating seniors). UCC members approved the revisions to the BA physics degree, after suggesting changes to the proposed Bulletin copy.
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Committee members discussed the review report, and self-study and additional comments from the IMES chair, before deciding to invite the chair and faculty members of the IMES committee to a later UCC meeting. IMES majors appear enthusiastic about the program, though some desire an elective course on spoken or colloquial Arabic. The IMES curriculum is a unique blend of both classical Islam and the modern Middle East, with some students and faculty wishing for more of one or the other. The committee also discussed the involvement of Crown and Schusterman Center and NEJS faculty in the program, the difficulties but importance of organizing regular faculty meetings, and the burdens of chairing an interdepartmental program.
At a later meeting, Joseph Lumbard, Chair of the IMES Program, and two members of the IMES faculty committee, Nader Habibi and Carl Sharif El-Tobgui, answered questions regarding IMES program administration, committee membership and activity. Lumbard explained that the IMES committee had not met during the year previous to the review, because he was continuing to administer the program while on leave, and because it had been difficult to organize meetings due to the travel or part time schedules of faculty, or their lack of response when attempting to schedule meetings. Since December, meetings for all faculty affiliated with the program and for a smaller curriculum committee have been organized, and the executive committee has been dissolved. Nader Habibi is now serving as the Undergraduate Advising Head and Carl El-Tobgui is the study abroad liaison.
Once core faculty were again able to teach the core IMES 104a course, the program’s enrollment stabilized with 12 seniors graduating per year. About 15% of seniors wish to write honors theses, and about the same number pursue graduate study. Professors Eva Bellin, Jonathan Decter and Naghmeh Sohrabi, who teach courses primarily in IMES, are now actively involved in program administration. IMES benefits from the resources of the Crown and Schusterman Centers, which fund conferences, lectures, and new courses and faculty, but Center faculty are less familiar with the demands of an undergraduate program. If the chairs of these centers would encourage faculty to also provide IMES administrative support (e.g., advising, directing senior honors theses, etc.), the program would benefit even further.
The UCC approved a motion to continue the IMES program for four more years, while also recommending that the chairmanship of the program should rotate to another faculty member at the end of Joseph Lumbard's term. Rotation of the chair will also enable different curricular perspectives (i.e., classical Islam and modern middle east) to be fully represented in program leadership. The committee strongly endorsed the scheduling of regular (at least one per semester) meetings of the IMES curriculum committee and of program faculty, and the division of the responsibilities of chair, UAH, and study abroad liaison among three different professors, as has been done this past year.
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Daniel Langenthal, the Director of Experiential Learning and Teaching, presented a proposal to enable faculty to offer a practicum course in the semester after they have offered a “base course.” Practicums are optional two-credit courses attached to four-credit courses, and are currently offered only in the same term as the base course. Each practicum offers an additional hour of instruction and requires three hours of additional out of classroom work. Practicums have been attached to core courses in HSSP, Environmental Studies, Journalism, and to Hebrew language and French and Comparative Literature courses. They are now led by a variety of instructors including base course faculty, staff, graduate students and peer assistants, but practicums offered in the following semester will be led only by faculty, staff, or graduate students.
Practicums work best when students are able to begin their projects immediately, but in some cases, students have not mastered enough of the base course content to begin their work until later in the term, or the logistics of admitting students into the practicum and of organizing and confirming projects have delayed start dates for practicum work for two to four weeks. To ensure that students are able to begin practicum assignments as soon as the term begins, students will be required to enroll in practicums offered in subsequent semesters by the end of the first week of classes, or one week before the end of the “shopping period.”
UCC members approved the new practicum option, and also endorsed a proposal that the Director of EL add another layer of review by signing practicum add forms.
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Anne Marando, Director of Academic Programs and Distance Learning at the Rabb School of Continuing Studies, and Michaele Whelan, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, presented a proposal to allow Brandeis seniors to complete and count toward their degrees up to two Rabb School of Continuing Studies courses, offered also to seniors of the Colonial Group through a consortial arrangement.
The Provosts of the Colonial Group, which consists of 13 research universities, including Northeastern, SMU, Tufts, Tulane, BU, BC, Syracuse, Lehigh, George Washington, and Wake Forest, have been meeting to discuss the creation of a consortium, which would enable member institutions to exchange online courses without revenue consequences, thereby enriching their curricula at no cost. The rules for the exchange are still to be worked out, and the maximum number of courses that initially will be offered is two per school. The consortium is also planning on making online summer courses available to one another’s students, for pay, but perhaps at a discount.
Because Brandeis does not currently offer online Arts and Sciences courses during the academic year, the Rabb School’s Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) was asked to identify courses suitable for advanced undergraduates in the Colonial Group. Courses selected were RHIN 110, “Perspectives on Health/Medical Information Systems,” an introductory course in the Health and Medical Informatics curriculum, and RVTM 101, “Foundations of Virtual Management across Cultures and Geographies,” a course introducing an analytical framework for assessing the complex and varied geographic, cultural and regulatory environment(s) in which virtual and globally distributed team members work. Both courses are three-credit, ten-week long, graduate-level, online courses with no prerequisites, offered each semester. Brandeis seniors would be allowed to enroll in no more than one GPS online course per semester, only after completing a free, non-credit orientation course before the start of the term. GPS tuition for the courses will be waived. The courses would not be allowed to count toward majors or toward student grade point averages, and thus would most likely be taken as extra electives. While the goal is to expand the curriculum and supplement the more theoretical offerings of the Computer Science department, enrollments from Brandeis undergraduates are still expected to be low.
In 1997, when the Rabb School was created, undergraduates were prevented from counting GPS courses toward their degrees. UCC members asked: How does the rigor of Rabb School courses compare with that of Arts and Sciences courses? Why are there no prerequisites for graduate level courses? (Most GPS students are working adults, with BA or BS degrees, which is why this option would be limited to seniors who have the maturity to complete online courses at a fast pace.) Will undergrads in other majors, such as HSSP or Environmental Studies, also be interested in completing these courses and counting them toward their majors? Should these courses now be approved by Arts and Science School Councils? (They have already been approved by the Rabb School in a manner similar to Heller and IBS course approval.)
According to our accrediting agency, Brandeis may not disallow courses based on the modality of instruction, although each department may review syllabi before deciding if courses may count toward their majors or minors. In the future, other Rabb School courses on such topics as Biomedical Informatics or Software Development Methodologies may also be considered by the Colonial Group consortium, which is only one of several online course experiments the university is piloting.
The UCC approved the offering of the two proposed GPS courses to Brandeis seniors in 2013-2014 as a pilot, and not as a precedent. Brandeis student enrollment in Colonial Group offerings will enable the university to test this new cross-registration agreement. A follow up meeting with the UCC will be scheduled in either late spring 2014, or early fall 2014 to review the university and GPS course evaluations from Brandeis seniors participating in the pilot.
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Report from the Review Committee on the Environmental Studies Program
Consideration of this report was postponed until the first meeting of the 2013-2014 academic year.
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