2008-09 Undergraduate Curriculum Committee Report
Sept. 11 and 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 13 and 20, Feb. 5, 25 and 26, March 12 and 19, April 22 and 23, May 1.
Members of the Committee
Mateo Aceves, Michelle Barras, Debra Booth, Mitch Cherniack, Lydia Guaraldi Fash (spring), George Hall, Caren Irr, Adam Jaffe, Eugene Kogan (fall), Jané Kondev, Eileen McNamara, Esther Ratner, Julia Simon-Mishel. Ex Officio: Gregory Freeze, Kim Godsoe, Mark Hewitt, Elaine Wong.
Sections in This Report
- Procedures for Conduct of UCC Meetings
- Approval of 2007-2008 UCC Report
- Appointment of Subcommittee for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors
- Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies: Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs and Discussion with Program Faculty
- Proposal for a Major in Film and (Visual) Media Studies
- Approval of New Study Abroad Programs
- Learning Goals for Brandeis Undergraduates
- Report from the Subcommittee on Independent Interdisciplinary Majors (IIMs): Approved Majors
- Discussion of a Recommendation to Terminate the University Seminar Requirement for the Class of 2013
- Review of New Policy Regarding Faculty "Course Banking"
- Discussion of Other Possible Changes to General Education Requirements
- Changes to Study Abroad Policies and Selection Criteria
- Proposal for a Five-year BA/MA Hornstein Program
- Proposal for Business Major
- Proposal for the “Justice Brandeis Semester” and Related Changes to the Residency Requirement
- Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Major in Communication, Media, and Society
- Recommendation/Guidelines for Departments and Programs with Majors
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Women’s and Gender Studies
- Proposal for Creating a Two Credit-Bearing Experiential Learning (EL) Practicum
- Report from Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Journalism
- Discussion of Recommendations from the CARS Committee
- Discussion of Proposed Independent General Education Requirements (IGER)
- Proposed Changes to the Computer Science Curriculum
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: East Asian Studies
Dean Jaffe reviewed procedures for the conduct of UCC meetings with all members.
The 2007-2008 UCC report was approved and posted online.
Debra Booth and Mitch Cherniack volunteered to serve on the Subcommittee for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors.
Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies: Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs and Discussion with Program Faculty
Joseph Lumbard, Chair of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies program, and Ilan Troen, Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, were invited to discuss the report on Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs. Lumbard noted that IMES is growing very quickly with 13 graduates in 2008, up from two in 2004. There are now 34 students enrolled in the major. Problems caused by rapid growth coupled with an inactive faculty committee are now being addressed: the elective course list is being reviewed, a proposal addressing the teaching of fourth year Arabic is being sent to the Dean, and the integration of teaching and advising resources from the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies has begun. Searches for a new chair in Arab Politics and a new tenure track position in IMES, department to be determined, have been in process.
What distinguishes the Brandeis IMES program is its commitment to both Islamic and modern Middle Eastern Studies. At many institutions, Middle Eastern Studies is a subfield of the Politics department while Islamic Studies is situated in the Religion department. It is unique to join the two; culture, language, and pre-modern textual study provide a much more complete view of the modern Middle East.
At a later meeting, after receiving updates from the Dean of Arts and Sciences about activities related to the IMES program (e.g., suspended searches and continued attention to Arabic language instruction), the UCC approved continuation of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies major and minor for a period of three years. The Dean of Arts and Sciences was asked to ensure the restoration of the IMES tenure track position and to resolve issues regarding Arabic instruction, including implementation of fourth year Arabic courses. Interim steps suggested by UCC members included establishment of an Arabic language table, and providing information to students about Arabic cross-registration opportunities in the Boston area.
The chair of the Film Studies program, Alice Kelikian, three members of the Film Studies faculty committee (Timothy Hickey, Sabine von Mering, and Matthew Fraleigh) and three students enrolled in the Film Studies minor (Anthony Scibelli ’09, A.J. Lawrence ’09, and Eve Neiger ’09) presented a proposal for a new major in Film and Media Studies. Film Studies was first introduced as a minor in 1994; enrollment has increased in the last two years from 11 to 48 students, many of whom wish to major in Film Studies. The curriculum of the major aims to provide an informed background in motion picture history, to develop a critical appreciation of the cultural meanings of film, and to ensure some appreciation of the practical and technical side of motion picture production. The requirements would consist of nine semester courses, including FILM 100a “Introduction to the Moving Image,” at least one course in non-American Cinema, and at least one (but no more than three) course(s) in the creative aspects of film production. Students would not be able to double-count more than four courses toward both Film and Media Studies and another major or minor.
Kelikian noted that 12 students have approached her about creating Independent Interdisciplinary Majors in Film Studies; she has asked them to defer applying while the proposed major moves forward. 22 prospective students have also inquired about a Film Studies major. The UCC Subcommittee, which reviewed the program in the spring of 2008, recommended creation of a major as a logical “next step.” Film Studies now offers a broad range of well-attended film screenings, featuring visits by many directors. The program is supported by an endowment from the Wasserman Foundation, and thus requires no additional resources for equipment, adjunct instructors or instructional aids.
UCC members asked why the proposed title is Film and Media Studies. This title is commonly used by other institutions, because not only film, but also television, digital media, and internet downloading and streaming are studied. Will the major create a need for additional sections of the production courses? Perhaps, but the program is able to hire adjuncts to teach production courses, as do our peer institutions. Why are majors not allowed to count more than three production courses toward the major? his is the practice of other programs also planted firmly in the liberal arts. Should students be required to complete courses in early and contemporary film history? Most of the foreign film courses focus on more recent films, while FILM 100a covers early film history.
After thanking the faculty and student presenters for attending the meeting, Dean Jaffe noted that he had received a letter in support of the new major from faculty serving on the Committee on Undergraduate Financial Aid and Admissions, who believe that the program would help attract new students to Brandeis. UCC members discussed the irregular offering of film courses in the department of American Studies. Even without these courses, there appears to be a sufficient number of elective courses offered each semester. Before acting on the proposal, committee members asked the program chair to address several issues. Who will offer the core course, FILM 100a, in the next few years? What are the requirements for majors offered at other institutions? Are the film courses in these other majors taught by faculty primarily trained as film scholars? The Dean’s office will also ask for a revised list of course electives, and request that the Humanities School Council review the proposed major.
At a later meeting, the UCC reviewed the range of titles and requirements for film majors at the University of Southern California, Boston College, University of Pennsylvania, and the five college consortium (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts), as well as information about the degrees and scholarly interests of faculty who teach film courses, and the program titles at Harvard and other universities. Three tenured humanities professors have offered to teach FILM 100a in rotation.
From reviewing the program titles in comparison with titles suggested by the Subcommittee that reviewed Film Studies last year, members of the UCC believe that Film and Visual Media Studies would be the most accurate title for the proposed program. While the number of film history courses required by the Brandeis program are fewer than those required by some other programs, so are the number of courses required for other Brandeis majors in comparison with those required by other universities. Although logistical concerns about the program exist, committee members expect the Film and Visual Media Studies curriculum to evolve. There is clearly much enthusiasm from both faculty and students for the major, and much support and energy for its growth. The Humanities School Council reported its support for the new major.
A motion to establish a major in Film and Visual Media Studies for a period of three years was approved by the committee, and forwarded to Faculty Meeting for consideration. Dean Jaffe was asked to state UCC concerns about how Brandeis film theory and film history sequences compare with those of other institutions, and to encourage the active contribution to the program of faculty whose scholarly work is in film. The UCC will look for progress in addressing these issues in the first years of the major.
In October, J. Scott Van Der Meid, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad, presented the criteria for new program approval (academic credentials, program duration and credit hours, language requirements, student services, course offerings, faculty and peer institutional support) before the UCC granted provisional approval to the study abroad programs at AsiaLearn: University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, China; University of Minnesota: Minnesota Studies in International Development in Nairobi, Kenya; Indiana University’s Bologna Consortial Studies Program: University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy; Sarah Lawrence College: University of Catania (Università degli Studi di Catania) in Sicily, Italy; and AMIDEAST: Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. The program at Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies: Program in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies in Sana’a, Yemen was not approved because of concerns about security.
In April, Van Der Meid, again reviewed the criteria for new program approval before the UCC granted provisional approval to the study abroad programs at Alliance for Global Education/Contemporary India: Development, Environment, Public Health, Fergusson College, in Pune, India; CIEE/Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey; and Middlebury Schools Abroad/Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt.
Several members of the Provost’s Assessment Committee, MaryPat Lohse from the Provost’s Office, Rick Alterman from Computer Science, Mike Coiner from Economics and Kim Godsoe from Academic Services, presented learning goals for Brandeis undergraduates drafted by the committee (which was formed in the aftermath of the NEASC accreditation review). The purpose of this discussion, and similar discussions with other faculty committees and Student Life departments, is to gather feedback about the goals, which draw on text from the Bulletin, from Students and Enrollment publications, from the NEASC accreditation self-study, and from a review of statements by other universities. The goals are considered a baseline, which all Brandeis graduates should be able to accomplish from learning in and out of the classroom. They are divided into three areas: core skills (including communication, quantitative, and critical thinking skills); knowledge (intellectual depth, intellectual flexibility, and ability to apply knowledge); and citizenship (understanding the social and ethical responsibilities of world citizens, knowledge of and respect for other cultural traditions, and commitment to life long learning).
UCC members asked how the goals might be used by the university. Once approved, the goals could be published in the Bulletin, and also used to map and evaluate our degree requirements. The goals must first be established, before assessment is undertaken.
UCC members also asked if the goals adequately articulate our commitment to interdisciplinary learning. What about breadth, kinesthetic intelligence, artistic expression, and knowledge of the American political process? Should all students have to struggle with some aspect of the creative process or engage in topics or fields of study that are personally challenging to them? Student representatives noted that the citizenship section lacks the level of detail found in the core skills and knowledge sections. A faculty representative added that learning goals help focus instructors’ awareness on what they are doing in the classroom.
In the fall, Jennifer Kim, Advisor to the Sophomore Class and Coordinator of Independent Interdisciplinary Majors, reported on five IIMs that were approved by the UCC’s Subcommittee on Independent Interdisciplinary Majors: “Communication and Media Studies” for Morgan Schwartz ’11, “Mass Media and Communications” for Rebecca Schlangel’10, “Cognitive Science” for Jaclyn Saffir ’10, “Urban Studies” for Trude Renwick ’10, and “Theater and Social Change” for Zohar Fuller ’10.
In the spring, Kim reported on six more IIMs that were approved by the Subcommittee: “Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies” for both Feya Hillel ‘10 and Shibani Pandya ’11, “Journalism and Media Studies” for Christine Callahan ’11, “Urban Education” for Taisha Sturdivant ’11, “Cognitive Science” for Nathan Hakimi ’11, and “Business” for Jonathan Kane ’10. The “Business” IIM was approved as a transition to the new Business major, which will be available to all undergraduates in the fall of 2010.
Discussion of a Recommendation to Terminate the University Seminar Requirement for the Class of 2013
The UCC considered a proposal to terminate the University Seminar requirement, which came from the Special Faculty Advisory Committee (SFAC), appointed by the Provost to recommend ways to balance the university’s budget in the coming fiscal years. SFAC has suggested that the university offer approximately 20 optional first year seminars, which, contrary to current policy, would be allowed to count for major requirements. One way of helping to meet next year’s severe budget shortfall is to reduce the number of part-time faculty hired to teach courses for interdepartmental programs and departments, an annual expense of $1 to 1.5 million dollars. Because the university offers 50 or more University Seminars each year, reducing the number of seminars might result in saving the equivalent of 30 or more single course hires, thus freeing up teaching resources for other needs.
USEMs serve the function of ensuring that every first year student enrolls in a small discussion-based seminar, focused on critical thinking and taught by a core faculty member. Research from the Registrar’s office indicates that only 43% of last year’s entering class enrolled in courses with 20 or fewer students, other than their USEM and UWS courses. Many of their other “low enrollment” courses are required language courses or studio electives.
While small first year courses matter to many students and their parents, a non-trivial number of students do not love their USEMs. The dean distributed course evaluation information from the 53 USEMs offered in 2007-2008: 27 received overall course evaluations of 4.00 or above, 14 received evaluations of 3.50-3.99, and 12 received evaluations of 3.49 or below.
Malcolm Watson, Chair of the USEM Oversight Committee, and Lisa Mills, Academic Administrator for University Studies, were invited to share views from USEM instructors and students. The majority of current USEM instructors believe the program provides an important learning experience in which first year students are not competing in seminars with upperclassmen, but student reaction is more mixed. Eliminating the program might negatively affect Brandeis’s image. Optional, voluntary USEMs would give students choices but too many students might “fall through the cracks”, selecting instead the anonymous safety of large lecture classes. Students intent on completing requirements for the major would probably not elect a first year seminar since many majors are structured around introductory prerequisites.
A typical first year academic experience includes large courses (e.g. Introductory Economics, Psychology, or Chemistry) and smaller classes taught for the most part by graduate students and faculty not on the tenure track. The USEM program began as courses focused on text analysis, the humanities, and a core curriculum, and then evolved into a program emphasizing interdisciplinary learning and communication skills (primarily writing), before further evolving into today’s program focused on discussion and critical thinking. Courses are now more diverse, with the writing component no longer required. Several members of the Oversight Committee believe that increasing the student enrollment limit (beyond 18) would further reduce discussion and critical thinking components.
Student representatives suggested as an alternative to voluntary seminars a two-credit mandatory University Seminar course, which could meet for 90 minutes, once per week, perhaps involving no writing assignments. This format would give first year students the opportunity to engage in seminar discussions, practice critical thinking, and learn to talk with one another about difficult issues. USEM instructors would probably teach two of these seminars in the same semester, with the same preparation and similar readings, but reduced grading loads to make teaching two sections feasible. Three other suggested options were a large lecture course with small faculty-led discussion sections, a seven week USEM module course, or optional discussion opportunities with faculty, scheduled after attendance at public lectures or colloquia.
Do all of the top liberal arts schools and our chief competitors offer first year seminars? Among overlap competitors such as Brown, NYU, Rochester, and UPenn, four have programs similar to USEM, but three do not. Could this change be temporary? The University could always reinstate the program.
UCC faculty discussed the difficulties of teaching a USEM. Stated goals are hard to achieve. Some students have been unhappy when they could not enroll in USEMs they wanted. Other problems include the difficulty of recruiting instructors in the face of resistance from departments, which feel constrained by limited teaching resources. Offering upper level seminars might be a better use of resources.
If the motivation for this decision is financial, why is the UCC involved? The faculty handbook requires the UCC to approve changes to degree requirements, so that the integrity of Brandeis’s degree requirements is protected. Committee members noted that the merits and faults of the USEM program are being discussed, but not in comparison with other potential programs that might be terminated. If Brandeis were not facing hard financial choices, it would not be discussing USEM termination.
At its next meeting, committee members received the summarized results of an e-mail survey/discussion of about 12-14 current University Seminar instructors. These instructors were adamantly opposed to the two-credit USEM option, believing that the work of teaching two such seminars would be more than that of teaching one regular seminar, and that students would have insufficient time and contact with faculty to experience the benefits of the current program. These instructors were also adamantly opposed to complete elimination of the USEM program, preferring instead to offer as a cost-saving measure optional seminars, with the same goals as USEM.
In other conversations of the dean with faculty, a proposal to allow seminar enrollment only by competitive application was suggested. Student members of the UCC were concerned that only the most intellectually ambitious and sophisticated students (not those who would otherwise fall through the cracks) would apply for seminars. An elite program defeats the original purpose of the USEM, and makes a bad situation even worse. Which alternative is the “least bad”? Maintaining or terminating the current program, elite seminars by application, or optional seminars without special application? Reducing the number of first year seminars would result in fewer Arts and Sciences administrative staff layoffs.
A motion to approve the termination of the current USEM requirement was passed, but not unanimously. UCC members urged the university to devise ways to advise students about the advantages of enrolling in first year seminars. A new program would probably be called something other than University Seminars to differentiate it from the current requirement. Courses would be allowed to count toward major and minor requirements, and for other university requirements (school distribution, quantitative reasoning, writing intensive, oral communication, non-Western and comparative studies). Seminars that are underenrolled during pre-registration will be canceled. Without a requirement, students may also drop first year seminars during the shopping period, so demand will be difficult to gauge and satisfy in the first year of the program.
The UCC reviewed, as mandated by the Faculty Handbook, a proposal from the Special Faculty Advisory Committee (SFAC) regarding “course banking.” This proposal has been discussed by faculty for two years. Last year, it was reviewed by the four school councils, receiving support from three, and opposition from one. In brief, the proposal states that a faculty member can teach an “overload” in one semester, earning a reduction in her/his teaching load in a future semester, if these actions are beneficial to the curriculum, and approved by the dean in consultation with the department chair. During the semester of reduced teaching load, the faculty member must be in residence and meet all service obligations (advising, attending departmental and university meetings, etc.). SFAC’s proposal includes a new option allowing faculty members to earn a full sabbatical, free from all teaching and service obligations, if they bank a total of one course above their normal semester teaching load (for most faculty, this would be three banked courses). Other limits (e.g., the maximum number of banked courses, and the frequency of allowable reductions) would also apply. Course banking would most benefit the university in its first year of implementation when additional courses would be taught, with no reductions yet earned, although presumably a steady state of banking and “withdrawals” would achieve equilibrium.
Dean Jaffe reported that there was no need for the UCC to discuss a possible change to the foreign language requirement. Alternative budget relief has been negotiated in a meeting of the dean with relevant department chairs and foreign language coordinators.
In February, J. Scott Van Der Meid, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad, and Kim Godsoe, Dean of Academic Services, discussed recent changes to study abroad policies, announced to students and faculty in mid-January. A faculty/student/staff Advisory Committee was appointed to review these policies; recommendations requiring further review/action will be brought back to the UCC.
The four main policy changes were implementation of: 1. a new mandatory Preliminary Study Abroad Application, due February 15, 2009, for all students wishing to study abroad for any part of the 2009-2010 academic year; 2. a new stand-alone room selection process guaranteeing fall housing in “The Village” for students who wish to study abroad in only the spring semester; 3. a new minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 to apply/depart for study abroad; and 4. elimination of financial aid “portability” for first year and sophomore merit scholars, with “repackaging” of financial aid for study abroad to those with demonstrated financial need. (This fourth change was later rescinded for current students.)
All of these changes were implemented to better plan for and manage campus resources (e.g., campus housing and tuition revenue). The fourth item has been most controversial, since some students received admissions letters promising aid portability for study abroad. A disproportionate number of merit scholars have no financial need. If merit aid were eliminated, other options to meet budget targets would include further raising GPA requirements for students wishing to study abroad, limiting the number and type of programs/countries in which students might be allowed to enroll, limiting the number of students who participate by making the application process more selective, and/or restricting use of all financial aid for study abroad. Minutes of the Study Abroad Advisory Committee and information about programs in which students have enrolled were also distributed. The Advisory Committee is opposed to restricting financial aid for study abroad.
In March, Van Der Meid presented new Study Abroad Selection Criteria, to be implemented in the spring of 2010. The criteria (academic and intellectual fit of program, intercultural learning plan, academic achievement/preparedness, and personal preparedness) were recommended by the faculty/student/staff Advisory Committee, which reviewed the criteria of 25 peer schools and Brandeis student and faculty comments. The Office of Academic Services would administer the selection process, sometimes in consultation with faculty advisers, other offices, and the Advisory Committee. Committee members approved a motion endorsing the new selection criteria for study abroad.
In May, Van Der Meid presented a proposal from the Advisory Committee for selecting students who wish to study abroad in FY11 (2010-2011). Elements of the proposal include: establishing new application deadlines for future years (that is, a preliminary application deadline in fall for study abroad in spring 2010 and a spring application deadline for the entire following year); confirmation by the applicant of a primary and alternate program choice at the time of preliminary application; balancing fall and spring enrollment numbers by taking into account projected December graduates and mid-year admits; requiring any student wishing to spend a year abroad in two different programs to schedule an interview with the Study Abroad Application Review Committee; and reviewing the current approved list to balance academic offerings with financial viability. The Advisory Committee aims to create a more selective and transparent process for study abroad approval in a way that balances the academic/personal interests of students with the enrollment, financial and planning needs of the university.
The UCC endorsed this plan, after asking questions about the number of program choices requested, the deadlines for mid-year students, the content of the applications, the current number of fall and spring study abroad enrollments, the procedure for changing a location after the deadline, and the process of moving students from one semester to another. The UCC also requested that it receive a list of study abroad programs suspended due to financial considerations.
Jonathan Sarna, Director of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, presented a proposal for a new five-year BA/MA program, which would admit qualified undergraduate NEJS majors and minors, Hebrew Language and Literature majors and minors, and Yiddish minors to the Hornstein Masters program in the spring of their junior year. If accepted, students would take two Hornstein graduate courses in each semester of their senior year, and complete all standard requirements for the Hornstein MA in the ensuing summer and following academic year. The proposal originates from student interest, and the university’s desire to offer more programs to recruit and retain undergraduates for a fifth year of study.
The introduction of this five-year BA/MA degree program would reactivate the “stand-alone” Hornstein Masters degree. Since 2006, all students admitted to the Hornstein Program have enrolled in a 21-month dual-degree program, pursuing the Hornstein MA plus a second degree: either a NEJS Masters, or a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or a Masters of Public Policy (MPP) from the Heller School. The Hornstein MA in the BA/MA Program would be identical to the Hornstein MA acquired by all Hornstein graduate students.
The UCC approved the new five year BA/Hornstein MA program, which will begin in the fall of 2009.
Ben Gomes-Casseres, Chair, and Maura Farrelly, Richard Gaskins, and Andy Molinsky from the Business Major Subcommittee of the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Steering (CARS) Committee presented their proposal for a new major in Business. The subcommittee was charged by CARS with developing a proposal consistent with the character, capabilities, and mission of Brandeis University, but not asked to estimate the proposal's costs and revenues.
The curriculum of the major is built on that of the minor, which requires six courses in the liberal arts and business, and expects to graduate about 100 students in 2009. The major would require a total of 10.5 courses, plus an Introductory Economics (ECON 2a) pre-requisite. Core courses include a new two-credit or half-course module on Quantitative Methods and five existing courses in the Fundamentals of Business Analysis (Financial Accounting, Functions of Capitalist Enterprise, Marketing and Strategy, Introduction to Finance, and Organizational Behavior). In addition, students would take two courses from Business and Society electives, two courses from Business Administration electives, and one other elective/internship/independent project course. For advising purposes, the major also offers possible thematic electives and specializations (e.g., Law and Government, Environment and Sustainability, Globalization and Innovation, and Finance) to deepen expertise. No more than two courses, excluding the pre-requisite, could count for another major or minor.
The program would be launched in either the fall of 2009 or 2010, depending on available resources for additional sections of existing core courses. Because of finite resources, enrollment would be capped at 100 Business majors per graduating class, and students would have to apply for the major. Ideally, business courses would not be restricted to majors. Introductory courses (e.g., Financial Accounting and Functions of Capitalist Enterprise), which are pre-requisites to other core courses, would be open to all.
How will Business graduates look to recruiters? Those who also major or minor in Economics or complete a BA/MA from the International Business School will be very competitive. This major is not designed for “hard core” business students found at Business Schools such as Babson or Bentley. Its goal is to educate individuals who can see the big picture, and write and think well. UCC members suggested that faculty advisers focus on admission to the major and preparation for specific post-graduate careers and study.
How do we know what the demand might be? Of the 40,000 high school students who make some sort of inquiry about Brandeis, the two most desired majors are health sciences and business. Though many prospective students with an interest in Business are likely to change their minds while at college, having a Business major makes Brandeis an option to more applicants. What makes this Business major different from the majors at other institutions? Our curriculum is more heavily balanced towards the liberal arts, in comparison to the curricula of peer schools; it also offers multiple opportunities for students to make connections across disciplines. Students in other Business majors are required to take one-half to two-thirds of all their courses in Business and related fields, while the Brandeis major requires far less. Our Business major is rooted in the liberal arts and gives students the opportunity to explore the many other curricular options of a small school. Our Business classes are relatively interactive and small, utilizing the case study method, and emphasizing critical thinking, writing and analysis. Global, social and ethical perspectives are built into both core courses and electives.
At a following meeting, Julia Simon-Mishel read a Student Union resolution expressing strong support for the proposed majors in Business and in Communications. UCC members asked additional questions about the Business proposal. How would admission to the major be implemented? Criteria for admission might be grades in introductory courses, set to limit each graduating class to approximately 100 Business majors. The current Business minor graduates about 80-90 students each year, and future admission to the minor will not be limited. Committee members asked that the system for limiting admission to the major be reviewed and approved by the UCC. Will business writing courses be introduced? New courses will be added as resources allow. (The Business accreditation agency requires that tenured faculty teach at least half of the courses in which majors enroll.)
The UCC approved, with one vote in opposition, the proposal for a new major in Business, to begin in the fall of 2010, with review of the major and minor scheduled in 2015-16.
Tim Hickey, Chair, and other members of the “Third Semester” Subcommittee of CARS (Laura Goldin, Susan Dibble, and Dan Terris) presented a proposal for a new graduation requirement: the Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS), which would offer a range of intensive, inquiry-based courses and immersive experiential learning opportunities, enabling students to earn at least 12 credits (or three courses) in fall, summer, and spring terms. A legislative motion was also distributed.
The JBS proposal establishes a framework for implementation of the new requirement, beginning in 2010. Its goals are to create a distinctive program to attract more applicants to the university, and also assist in accommodating a larger student body (3700 students) on a campus with only 2850 beds in student residence halls. The Justice Brandeis Semester builds on Brandeis’s commitment to experiential learning and already existing programs such as the Environmental Field Semester and immersive summer language institutes. Ongoing discussions have yielded four broad JBS categories: study abroad; intensive summer programs in languages, arts, science and research; spring or fall programs led by faculty for groups of about 15 students; and independent study with an experiential component or internships supervised by faculty. Study Abroad programs would enroll roughly 400 students a year (150 each in the fall and spring and 100 in the summer). Summer institutes might account for another 200 students, leaving 200-300 students to participate in fall and spring programs. Examples of proposed Justice Brandeis Semesters include anthropological fieldwork, a legislative advocacy semester, and off campus internships, supported by preparatory course work.
A mandatory or optional program will require resources to hire internship coordinators and other administrative/academic staff. UCC members discussed the merits of the proposal in relationship to recruiting, online pedagogy, and other logistics. Students who are away from campus will still need advising and other support, and faculty will need to be compensated for their participation. Questions were asked about mid-year students, financial aid, and the effect of the semester away on senior honors participation and campus life, clubs, and organizations. Would there be a procedure for opting out of the requirement?
At the next meeting, Dean Jaffe reported that the Curricular and Academic Restructuring (CARS) committee was now recommending new legislation, which proposed an optional rather than mandatory Justice Brandeis Semester. An optional program would not ameliorate campus overcrowding to the same extent, and would limit spaces available in pilot programs. It’s also more difficult to commit resources to an optional program. A mandatory program might be recommended at a later date, after pilot programs have been implemented. UCC members unanimously approved a motion to offer an optional Justice Brandeis Semester.
The dean also distributed text explaining a new residency requirement and information about the residency requirements of peer institutions. Public universities do not usually state residency requirements; the requirements of private universities vary. Brown, Cornell, Harvard, and Tufts require eight semesters, Brandeis currently requires seven, Princeton and Yale require six, and BC, BU, NYU and UPenn require four semesters. The proposed requirement structure, which would begin for the class entering in fall 2010, would require eight semesters while allowing students to complete a total of two Justice Brandeis or Study Abroad semesters. The last semester at Brandeis could be a Justice Brandeis Semester, but not Study Abroad. Right now about 6% of each class graduate in seven semesters, and a similar percentage enroll at a reduced rate of work in their eighth semester.
A motion to require eight semesters in residency, including a total of two Study Abroad or Justice Brandeis Semesters, was approved by the committee with one abstention. (This motion was later withdrawn from faculty meeting consideration.)
As a later meeting, University Registrar Mark Hewitt presented, and the UCC unanimously approved, new Bulletin text describing the academic residency requirement. This text clarifies the requirement by introducing simpler terms and subheadings and by accommodating the Justice Brandeis Semester, which is treated in a manner similar to study abroad. The text also eliminates description of the seventh semester waiver process, but does not change the number of required semesters from seven to eight.
Maura Jane Farrelly and Shilpa Davé, representatives from a much larger proposing committee, presented a proposal for a new major and minor in Communication, Media, and Society (CMS), to begin in the fall of 2010. Alice Kelikian, the chair of Film and Visual Media Studies, also attended the meeting.
The proposing committee began discussions about a possible major almost three years ago, but accelerated its work in response to the university’s need to recruit more applicants. Three of the fields that prospective students most desire are Health Sciences, Business, and Communications. In 2006, “Communications, Journalism, and Communications Technologies” was the fourth most popular grouping of majors awarded nationwide.
The CMS program draws largely from courses already listed in the Brandeis University Bulletin. The goals of the new program are to bring cohesion to these courses, allowing them to “speak” to one another. Students would study the forms, aesthetics, history, cultural meanings, and social relevance of communication and media. The major would require two core courses in the categories of “Communications Theory” and “Mass Media History,” and seven electives drawn from three tracks. A minor in CMS would require the same two core courses, plus four electives. At least two instructors would be willing to teach each of the core courses. The syllabus for “The History of Mass Media in America” is being developed and will be submitted for approval later in the semester, but a course description and preliminary list of texts were included in the proposal. Students would complete five courses in one of the three tracks (Journalism; Technology, Communication, and Society; and Sociocultural Dimensions of Media) and one course in each of the other tracks. The Journalism track would also require a basic reporting course, a course in “Journalism Ethics” and either an internship or semester-long thesis project. This track would replace the existing Journalism program at Brandeis, and the Technology, Communication, and Society track would replace the existing Internet Studies program. The Journalism program is currently the third most popular minor at Brandeis, after Business and Legal Studies. The most popular Independent Interdisciplinary Majors are now in the areas of “Communications and Media Studies” or “Visual Studies.”
UCC members asked about the role of film in the CMS major. Because the university recently approved a new major in Film and Visual Media Studies, CMS majors would be limited to taking two courses cross-listed with the Film program. In addition, no more than five courses counting toward the CMS major could be drawn from a single department, and no more than three could double count toward another major. How does this curriculum compare to that of other universities? There is usually more focus on public relations and advertising in Schools of Communications. The CMS program emphasizes the importance of studying the content areas of the liberal arts (e.g., economics, social issues), and not just the tools of communication. In fact, Schools of Communications are now encouraging more study of liberal arts subjects.
How duplicative is this curriculum of the Film and Visual Media Studies curriculum? Film courses appear in both curricula; film is an essential media and communications component. Is having two majors with overlapping content deceptive or wasteful of resources? Two majors can offer different perspectives on the same course content. Should all film courses be removed from the third track, or the programs merged or one of the CMS tracks eliminated?
UCC members suggested that the CMS curriculum would benefit from more structure, particularly in the tracks other than Journalism. For example, all students in the third track could be required to complete a Politics course.
Although the UCC planned to continue working with the proposing committee to refine the CMS curricular structure, its members unanimously approved the motion for a new major and minor in Communication, Media and Society for a period of five years beginning in the fall of 2010. (This motion was later withdrawn from faculty consideration.)
UCC members agreed to form an exploratory subcommittee to consider establishing university wide guidelines on such topics as the minimum or maximum number of courses required for majors and minors, the number of specific courses or categories of courses required, double counting of courses, use of cross-listed courses, and the numbers of tracks. The formation of this subcommittee was a response to an invitation from the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring (CARS) Committee, which was considering ways to streamline or reduce the curriculum in future years. There are currently no guidelines regarding the structure of a major, other than that the majority of courses completed in satisfaction of a major must be taken at Brandeis.
At a later meeting, the UCC reviewed recommendations from the subcommittee. Its members (George Hall, Tim Hickey, Anum Irfan Khan ‘10, Eileen McNamara, Jim Mandrell, and Elaine Wong) first reviewed suggestions for streamlining and integrating curricular programs submitted by departments and school councils to the CARS Committee, before identifying six recommendations for all departments and programs with majors. These are: 1. Review the total number of courses required for the major; 2. Consider expanding the number of cross-listed courses with more than one abbreviation; 3. Consider allowing students to fulfill a major requirement by taking a cross-listed course or by petitioning the Undergraduate Advising Head for approval of any course they can justify; 4. Examine whether 90-level courses may count toward the major; 5. Examine whether existing courses numbered in the 1-99 or 200+ range can be numbered in the 100 range so that both undergrads and graduate students can easily enroll; and 6. Consider replacing formal tracks within majors with suggested pathways for study, to be determined by a student’s post-graduate goals (i.e., employment, graduate school). These recommendations aim to maximize flexibility for students without compromising academic rigor, in a time of new austerity with fewer courses and faculty. A rationale and examples from such departments as Computer Science, Anthropology and Physics accompany each recommendation.
Most of the discussion focused on the second recommendation. Cross-listing courses with more than one course number and abbreviation is considered bad practice by Registrars, because of resulting complications to registration and degree audits. The Registrar was also concerned about the cross-listing interface and functionality with our Peoplesoft software. He suggested instead ways of integrating cross-listed courses more fully within the Bulletin (by, for example, including full descriptions within the course listing section). UCC members suggested creating internal course aliases for degree auditing purposes, and talked about why the departmental course abbreviation represented on a transcript is important to them. Cross-listing helps to break down barriers between programs and make course offerings of majors look richer. The Computer Science department offered assistance in addressing Peoplesoft issues.
A UCC member suggested that the word “guidelines” be dropped from the text and title of the report. The report will be shared with department chairs in the future, and their comments will be brought back to the UCC. The recommendations may also be used in future program and curricular reviews.
The UCC reviewed reports by the chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies program and the standing committee on interdepartmental programs before approving a motion to continue the Women’s and Gender Studies program for a period of seven years. The review committee, which met separately with core program faculty and with students enrolled in the program, reported that the program continues to flourish, led by a strong, committed faculty who offer a wide range of well received courses and form a cohesive research community. The incorporation of gender into the program and its courses is still being accomplished, but the faculty have plans to address any areas of the curriculum in need of improvement.
Adi Grabiner-Keinan, Academic Administrator for Experiential Learning, Laura Goldin from American Studies and Environmental Studies, and Tim Hickey from Computer Science, presented a proposal for a new two-credit experiential learning practicum course, which would be taken in conjunction with a four-credit experiential learning base course. Brandeis currently offers 50 or more experiential learning courses, some of which, in addition to regular course assignments, require three to five weekly hours of additional effort for hands-on experiential components. The creation of the EL Practicum will enable students to receive two letter-graded credits for their extra work, similar to lab courses in the Sciences or practicum courses in the Creative Arts. The Practicum course will also further highlight EL opportunities for Brandeis undergraduates, and enable faculty to clarify expectations and requirements, and institutionalize EL elements.
In the proposal, instructors of EL courses would be able to choose between the current model of one four-credit course, or a four-credit base course with either an optional or required two-credit practicum, depending on the scale of EL activities and the size of the base course (in larger courses, it is likely that the optional practicum would be limited to about 15 students, at the instructor’s discretion). However, the Registrar recommended that for EL courses with required practica, we assign the base course six credits instead of having students enroll in two separate courses (base course and practicum). The dean will consult with department chairs regarding the approval process for courses changing from four to six credits, but it is possible that school council approval might be required.
The original proposal also recommended that students not receive more than four total credits of EL Practica toward graduation and that EL Practica not count toward major or minor requirements. However, the Registrar recommended that we not set a limit on the total number of practica at this time, and instead review student practice in five years, to see if there is indeed a need for limits. In addition, faculty members of the UCC urged that departments be allowed to decide whether or not to count practicum courses toward major and minor requirements (although the default position will be that practica do not count toward majors and minors).
UCC members asked if it is important for practicum courses to be letter graded. Letter grading will encourage faculty to engage in assessment activities. Faculty asked if practica would count toward faculty teaching loads. For the moment, the dean assumes that faculty will teach practicum courses as an overload, or ask the dean for credit toward their teaching loads, with support from their departmental chairs. How will practicum courses be scheduled? Faculty will usually schedule one additional hour per week of class meeting time, and indicate that other required hours are “tba.” The registrar’s office also suggested that enrollment in a two-credit EL Practicum should be done “manually” in manner similar to enrollment for independent studies, rather than online.
Members of the UCC unanimously approved the amended (as discussed above) proposal. The dean will announce the availability of the new practicum courses, beginning in the fall of 2009, to department chairs and faculty.
Because a revised proposal for a new major incorporating Journalism was expected later in the spring or fall of 2009, consideration of the report on the Journalism program from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs was postponed.
Provost Marty Krauss was invited to attend the UCC’s review of the report from the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Steering Committee. If adopted, several of the CARS recommendations (for example, creating new interdisciplinary majors in German Studies and Russian Studies) would require further action from the UCC. Committee members primarily discussed the possible reorganization of three departments into interdepartmental programs, beginning in AY 2010-2011. The symbolic weight of this change, especially for AAAS, is of concern to many undergraduates. Also of concern to others is the ability of interdepartmental programs to influence or initiate new searches and appointments for majors, since the staffing of courses continues to be an issue for all interdepartmental programs. UCC members asked about the savings that would result from these changes, and discussed whether or not mentoring of junior faculty is best achieved in larger units. A committee member noted that the AAAS and American Studies curricula already include many courses from other departments, while the major and minor of Classical Studies do not.
One of the main goals of the CARS report is to bring about a culture change at Brandeis, so that ownership of the entire curriculum is shared across the university, and is less dependent on local discretion and prerogative. Greater integration and efficiencies will be needed to maintain the current curriculum with fewer faculty members.
Members of the CARS Subcommittee on General University Requirements and Advising (Sarah Lamb from Anthropology; Rick Alterman from Computer Science, Sabine von Mering from GRALL, and Ryan McElhany ’10) presented their proposal for the Independent General Education Requirements (IGER) program, which would offer Brandeis students the opportunity to design their own general education curriculum. This proposal would maintain the current general education requirements for most students, while allowing a small number of students who are strongly motivated to design their own path through the Brandeis curriculum to craft an alternative set of courses that meet the same aims and categories of the standard general education requirements (that is, Core Intellectual Foundations in written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning and critical thinking; Global Citizenship as embodied by the foreign language and non-Western and comparative studies requirements, and Breadth as exemplified by our school distribution requirement). An IGER curriculum would normally consist of a similar number (8-12) of courses as the standard general university requirements.
CARS subcommittee members view this proposal as an attractive option for those students and faculty who advocate for a more open, student-driven curriculum with no requirements. The subcommittee has heard from the Admissions Office that the IGER option could be an effective recruiting tool for prospective students who currently are drawn to schools such as Brown because of its open curriculum. The process for approving an IGER would require a student to submit a proposal (including the proposed curriculum, a narrative that explains and justifies the curriculum, a letter of recommendation from a Brandeis faculty member with whom the student has completed a course, and signatures of endorsement from two faculty advisors) to a standing IGER subcommittee of the UCC, in a manner similar to the approval process for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors. The option would only be available to students who have completed at least one semester at Brandeis and achieved a certain grade point average (perhaps 3.0). All proposals would be accepted no later than the second semester of the sophomore year. A successful IGER proposal would demonstrate that the student had thought carefully about his or her educational goals, broadly familiarized him or herself with the rich diversity of Brandeis's curricular offerings, and met, though perhaps in unique and diverse ways, all of the university’s general education learning goals.
UCC members asked why students would be interested in pursuing an IGER? Some independent and intellectually curious students are more inspired, motivated and fulfilled if they are able to design their own curriculum. Committee members also discussed the GPA requirement. About 79% of all undergraduates earn a 3.0 GPA, but GPAs tend to be lowest for students in their first terms at the university. Some UCC members were concerned about administrative support required by the IGER, and asked if it would drain good advisers from the first year advising system. The IGER option might create another reason to meet with an adviser, or to have a substantial conversation about the liberal arts. Perhaps a core of IGER advisers might be identified, who would have expertise in IGER advising. Some students might then be “advised out” of submitting a proposal, by noting that additional work must still be done in order for an application to be successful.
UCC members reviewed a draft motion to be presented at the faculty meeting, and amended it by establishing a review period of four years and raising the qualifying cumulative grade point average from 3.0 to 3.4, before approving the proposal.
Tim Hickey, Chair, and Rick Alterman of Computer Science presented proposed changes to the computer science curriculum through annotated Bulletin copy detailing changes to the minor, postbaccalaureate certificate program, and BA, BS, MA, BA/MA degrees. The impetus for these changes came from a 2007-2008 external review report on Computer Science, which emphasized the relevance of the discipline to other fields. Faculty reviewed 12-20 other degree programs, the career plans of undergraduates, and the accreditation standards of the CS professional organization, before deciding to rebuild the curriculum from the ground up, eliminating non-essential required and elective courses from the BA and BS programs, and designing courses and requirements that would serve all majors and prospective majors (including those with no programming skills). The proposed curriculum meets the needs of students no matter what their intended career path might be, including double majors in fields such as biology, economics and psychology, and students who seek employment in web programming after graduation, and those who intend to pursue a PhD in Computer Science. The new flexibility in the curriculum will be matched with more in-depth advising to help students select the best curriculum for their personal career goals and aspirations. CS faculty have consulted with current majors, who are uniformly positive about the proposed changes.
The BA degree would now include nine courses, instead of the previous 14. The proposed changes include a minimum set of required courses, including COSI 11a, COSI 12b, COSI 21a, COSI 29a and COSI 31a. COSI 12b “Advanced Programming Techniques” would replace two 2-credit lab courses, COSI 22a and b, which would no longer be offered. Previously mandated COSI 30a and 101a and MATH 10a and 15a are being eliminated because they do not primarily cover material required in the standard CS curriculum; essential topics in these courses have been moved into other core courses. The number of required electives will still be four, but the department will now allow all COSI courses except for the senior honors thesis to count for the major. Students will also fulfill a distribution requirement (one course from each of groups A and B, sorted by foundational and applied courses).
The BS degree would now include 14 courses instead of the previous 19, utilizing the same core as the BA with one more required COSI course, 30a, and two required MATH courses, 8a and 10a. The mathematics courses are different from the previous set in their emphasis on statistics rather than linear algebra. The number of electives for the BS degree has been lowered from eight to five while now allowing but not requiring two electives to be cross-listed. This degree is intended for majors who wish to become Academic or Research Computer Scientists, and requires both more breadth and depth.
The minor would still require six courses, including three core courses (COSI 11a, 12b, and 21a) and three electives, rather than one required course and five electives. The combined BA/MA would require students to complete BA requirements plus three additional electives in their senior year, and then complete an additional six courses in their fifth year.
UCC members asked if students who are exempted from COSI 11a would be required to complete an additional elective (yes, they would). The committee approved all of the proposed changes to requirements of the Computer Science minor, BA, BS, and BA/MA degrees.
The UCC reviewed reports by the chair of East Asian Studies (EAS) and the standing committee on interdepartmental programs before approving a motion to continue the East Asian Studies program for a period of seven years. The review committee followed the standard procedure of meeting separately with core faculty and students enrolled in the program, after reviewing the self-study and other relevant materials (information from the University Bulletin and program website, course schedules for Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, syllabi and course evaluations from the program’s core courses, and previous UCC reviews of the program and documents relating to the program’s founding in 1991).
EAS faculty and students agree on the program’s strengths (excellent language training and multidisciplinary approaches) and needs (new faculty appointments in Chinese literature and Japanese history). The program has doubled the number of graduating seniors (from seven to 14) in the last four years, and continues to fulfill its mission and make valuable contributions to the university.