2009-10 Undergraduate Curriculum Committee Report
Sept. 10, Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Nov. 12, Jan. 28, Feb. 11, Feb. 25, March 25, April 8, April 29.
Members of the Committee
Michelle Barras, Bernadette Brooten, Mitch Cherniack, Nicole Cordero, Ezra Fishman, Eric Hill, Caren Irr, Adam Jaffe, Tom King, Eileen McNamara, Orlee Rabin, Esther Ratner. Ex Officio: Gregory Freeze, Kim Godsoe, Mark Hewitt, Elaine Wong.
Sections in This Report
- Procedures for Conduct of UCC Meetings
- Approval of 2008-2009 UCC Report
- Appointment of Subcommittee for Independent Interdisciplinary Majors
- Proposal to Change the Title of Film and Visual Media Studies
- Discussion of Learning Goals
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Journalism
- Proposed Title Change for the English and American Literature Major and Minor
- Approval of New Study Abroad Programs
- Report from the Subcommittee on Independent Interdisciplinary Majors (IIMs): Approved Majors
- Proposals for Justice Brandeis Semester Programs
- Proposed Changes to the Psychology Major
- Proposal to Change the Russian Language and Literature and Russian and East European Studies Major and Minors to a Major and Minor in Russian Studies
- Proposal to Change the Requirements for the BA and BS in Physics
- Termination of Four Year BA/MA Programs in Anthropology, History, Physics, and Politics
- Spring 2010 UCC Review of Proposals to Streamline Requirements for Majors and Minors
- Proposed Changes to the Requirements for the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Minor
- Proposal for a BA/MA or BS/MA in Computer Science and IT Entrepreneurship
- Proposal for a Five-Year BA/MS or BS/MS in Biotechnology
- Review of Faculty Workload Committee Recommendations
- Admissions Process for the Business Major
Proposal to Change the German Language and Literature Major to the German Studies Major
- Review of Brandeis 2020 Proposals
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs on Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) and Proposed Changes to the Latin American and Latino Studies Major
- Proposed Changes to the Environmental Studies (ENVS) Major
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Legal Studies
- Proposed Changes to the American Studies Major
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: International and Global Studies and Proposed Changes to the International and Global Studies Major
- Pass/Fail Plus Proposal
- Proposal for a New Chemical Biology track in Chemistry
- Proposed Changes to the Sociology Major
- Proposed Changes to Peer Assistant Guidelines
- Proposal for a New Fine Arts Minor in Sculpture
- Proposed Changes to the Music Major
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Language and Linguistics
- Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: Religious Studies
Dean Jaffe reviewed the procedures for conduct of UCC meetings, including confidentiality matters.
The 2008-2009 report was approved and posted on the UCC website.
Esther Ratner and Eric Hill volunteered to serve on the Subcommittee to Review Independent Interdisciplinary Majors.
Alice Kelikian, Chair of the Film and Visual Media Studies Program, presented a proposal to change the name of the program to Film and Media Studies, the name originally proposed when the new major was created last year (though changed by the UCC to be in congruence with a recommendation from the last report of the Program Review Subcommittee). Speaking for the executive committee of the film program, Kelikian noted that Film and Media Studies or Cinema and Media Studies are the most frequently used names for similar university programs (e.g., University of Chicago, Rochester, Johns Hopkins, Washington University, UCs-Irvine and Santa Barbara), while the term Visual Media is not commonly used. Visual Media Studies suggests that the program examines all visual media (e.g., photography and graphic design); it also excludes sound media, one of the program’s strengths. “Media” is no longer divided into visual, digital, and audio, and the program is now actively embracing interactive digital media studies.
UCC members asked if other adjectives such as Digital or New or Multi-Media Studies would be acceptable. What is the intellectual relationship between print and digital forms, and film and media studies and critical analysis of digital art forms? In a downsized environment, how do we create the least amount of duplication? Media Studies to some faculty and students intersects with journalism, as literacy in digital media is important to both programs. Dean Jaffe noted that the title of the film program would not have a direct influence on what courses were offered; the UCC was reviewing the title of the program and not its curriculum. Committee members were convinced that “Visual Media Studies” was not the appropriate title for the program, but thought that an additional adjective was needed before “Media Studies” to communicate the scope of the program. Dean Jaffe asked the film executive committee to consider and propose another title for the program. (“Film, Television, and Interactive Media” was later proposed by the executive committee and approved by the UCC.)
UCC members were provided with an update on the university’s learning goals, which were discussed in draft form with last year’s committee, as well as senior administration, trustees, department chairs, UDRs, Roosevelt Fellows, and many other committees, offices and departments. These goals were created by the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Assessment of Student Learning, in part because the university’s accrediting body, NEASC, reported in 2006 that Brandeis needed a systematic, broad-based, and integrated approach to the assessment of student learning. It is expected that the UCC will use the university’s learning goals in reviewing programs and curricular changes to majors.
Earlier in the fall, to help all Brandeis students and faculty gain awareness of the goals, Provost Marty Krauss and Senior Vice President Jean Eddy sent an e-mail announcement to the community about both the goals and the new assessment website. Other modes of communication and related activities included hanging a new banner; distributing bookmarks with the new graphic and summary to all first year students, New Student Forum discussion and orientation leaders and Community Advisors; creating a student assessment subcommittee; and offering a faculty workshop co-sponsored by the Assessment Committee and the Committee for the Support of Teaching. Later in the year, the departments and programs will begin identifying learning goals for each major. The university is also considering modification of the course evaluation to incorporate questions about the learning goals. The current list of goals is not exhaustive; goals will continue to evolve as departments and administrative units work with them.
The UCC reviewed reports by the chair of the Journalism program and the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs before approving a motion to continue the Journalism program for a period of five years. The Standing Committee, which last fall met separately with Journalism students and faculty, also reviewed relevant documents including the program self-study, information from the University Bulletin and program website, syllabi and course evaluations for core courses, and miscellaneous background material, before submitting its report last spring. Discussion of the report was postponed until this year, because the 2008-2009 UCC was also considering a proposal for a new major in Communication, Media, and Society, which is no longer under consideration.
Journalism faculty and students expressed satisfaction with the minor, which graduates about 30 students each year. The students are diverse in their post-Brandeis aspirations, with few planning to be print journalists, but many interested in understanding how media works in such fields as business, public relations and advertising. The Journalism program continues to fulfill its mission and to make valuable contributions to the university.
The UCC approved a proposal presented by Paul Morrison and Ulka Anjaria of the English and American Literature department to change the name of the department’s major and minor from “English and American Literature” to “English.” The faculty will next petition the Humanities and Graduate Councils to change the names of the department and its M.A. and Ph.D. programs.
The new name will more accurately reflect both the curriculum and the fields of expertise of the faculty, which go far beyond the two national traditions of "English" and "American" literature to include Caribbean, Indian and African literatures in a global context, performance studies, film, and cultural studies or history. "English" is also the title used at such institutions as Brown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Penn State, Rutgers, UC Davis, and the University of Maryland.
In October, J. Scott Van Der Meid, Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Director of Study Abroad, reviewed 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 three new study abroad programs: CIEE/University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana; CIEE/Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa; and CIEE/University of Dar es Salaam in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The UCC also approved a proposal for the Brandeis Summer in The Hague, which would be taught by Richard Gaskins, Professor of Legal Studies, who also attended the meeting. This two-course summer study abroad program is being developed and sponsored by the Office of Global Affairs and the Office of Study Abroad, in partnership with the Grotius Centre and the Law Faculty at Leiden University. Its aim is to provide a comprehensive view of international tribunals and their global functions, by combining coursework, research, field visits to international courts, and interactive workshops with court advocates and international lawyers. Two new IGS/LGLS courses would count for both the LGLS internship option and/or the IGS study abroad component.
UCC members asked about the course schedule (six weeks), assignments (25 pages of writing for one course, and a journal and 8-10 page paper for the other), co-curricular activities and programming, and expected program costs (likely to be between $7000 and 8000, excluding air travel). As for most summer study abroad programs, scholarships will probably not be available. The two courses in the program may count toward the 16 credits students may earn from summer school, AP, etc. Course grades would be listed on the Brandeis transcript and count in a student’s overall GPA, as do courses from the Brandeis summer school.
In February, Van Der Meid presented, and the UCC approved, three other study abroad programs for provisional approval: CIEE/Community Public Health in Khon Kaen, Thailand; CET/Intensive Language and Cultural Studies in Sicily in Catania, Italy; and IES/Metropolitan Studies in Berlin in Berlin, Germany.
In April, Van Der Meid presented, and the UCC approved a summer study abroad program offered through the University Studies Abroad Consortium at the University of Alicante in Spain, which will be added to 80 other approved summer programs. Professors Brooten, King and Ratner volunteered to serve on a UCC subcommittee to review other summer study abroad programs requiring approval after the end of the term.
In October, Jennifer Kim, Senior Advisor to the Sophomore Class and Coordinator of Independent Interdisciplinary Majors, reported on two IIMs that were approved by the UCC’s Subcommittee on Independent Interdisciplinary Majors: Maya T. Koenig ’11, “Medical Anthropology” and Sophia Rose Glass ’11, “Gender and Sexuality Studies.”
In April, Kim reported on the approval of five spring applications: Alexandra Zweben ’11, “Third World (or Development) Studies;” Jonathan Sussman ’11, “History of Ideas;” Marla Merchut ’12, “Conflict and Cooperation Studies;” Luria Rittenberg ’11, “Communication and Media Studies;” and Robert St. Laurence ’11, “Cognitive Science.”
In the fall, Dean Jaffe provided a brief overview of the Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) program, which enables groups of approximately 12-20 students to earn at least 12 course credits (the equivalent of three courses) with experiential learning components in the summer, spring, or fall. Students would be charged 75% of one semester’s tuition, and financial aid would be available on a proportional basis. The JBS is different from Brandeis summer school, in that it counts toward the residency requirement.
The UCC considered nine proposals recommended for a summer 2010 pilot by the JBS selection subcommittee, a subgroup of a larger faculty, staff, and student committee appointed by Jean Eddy and Dean Jaffe. As per legislation passed last May, the UCC must grant curricular approval to the programs, while the dean, who grants final approval, is concurrently reviewing the program budgets. Approved programs not offered this summer because of insufficient enrollment or for other financial reasons could still be offered in the future. Because this is a pilot program, it is not clear with what frequency these programs might be offered.
The UCC approved the following programs, conditional on the approval of Departmental/Program Curriculum Committees: “Beacon Hill Summer” proposed by Eileen McNamara and Maura Jane Farrelly, American Studies and Journalism; “Collaborative Theater and the Theatrical Essay” proposed by Adrianne Krstansky, Theater Arts; “Conflict Resolution and Ethics in the Real World” proposed by Richard Gaskins, Legal Studies and Andy Hogan ’11; “Environmental Health and Justice” proposed by Laura Goldin, American and Environmental Studies; “Ethnographic Fieldwork” proposed by Elizabeth Ferry, Anthropology; “Health and Society Field Semester” proposed by Peter Conrad, Health: Science, Society and Policy; “Pathologies of Criminal Law: Restoring Justice” proposed by Richard Gaskins and Melissa Stimmel, Legal Studies; “Understanding the American Jewish Community” proposed by Len Saxe, Hornstein Program; and “Web Services, Mobile Apps, and Cloud Computing” proposed by Tim Hickey, Computer Science.
At a subsequent meeting, Dean Jaffe informed the UCC that he had received approval from the departmental or program curriculum committees of the nine JBS programs conditionally approved at the previous UCC meeting; however, “Conflict Resolution” will not be offered in the summer of 2010 due to staffing considerations. Also, MA students will be allowed to enroll in JBS programs on a space available basis.
In the spring, the UCC reviewed and approved the following three proposals for 2010-11 Justice Brandeis Semesters: “Environmental Field Semester,” a Fall 2010 five-course offering that will explore the history, ecology, conservation and stewardship of land in New England, proposed by Brian Donahue and Dan Perlman, Environmental Studies; “Social Justice in Global Perspective: Brandeis Semester in The Hague,” a three or four course Spring 2011 option designed for students in all fields of study who are interested in issues of global justice, broadly shaped by international legal processes, proposed by Richard Gaskins, Legal Studies; and “Civil Rights and Racial Justice in Mississippi”, a summer 2011 community-engaged program that will enable students to spend eight weeks in Mississippi, partnering with the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in support of a grassroots racial justice effort related to the legacy of the civil rights struggle in Mississippi, proposed by David Cunningham, Sociology.
Joseph Cunningham, Phil Gnatowski, and Mick Watson from the Psychology department presented proposed changes to the requirements of the Psychology major. These changes, approved by the Social Science School Council, would reduce the number of required courses from 11 to nine, by eliminating a second quantitative course requirement, and allowing students to double count one of the “research science” course requirements as a required “advanced seminar” course. All other requirements for the major would remain the same.
The department is proposing these changes to streamline the major in preparation for expected adjustments to faculty size, while still providing students with rigorous preparation and requirements consistent with those of peer institutions. Most of the Psychology advanced seminars are now research intensive and thus could be allowed to double count for more than one requirement. The changes, which will allow the department to offer some courses less frequently, have been welcomed by Psychology majors, who previously found the major more quantitative than most needed for their post-graduate aspirations.
UCC members suggested amendments to clarify the proposed Bulletin text, and encouraged the department to add information about courses recommended for students interested in graduate study, before approving the proposed changes. The new requirements will be available to current seniors and all others pursuing the Psychology major as of fall 2010.
Proposal to Change the Russian Language and Literature and Russian and East European Studies Major and Minors to a Major and Minor in Russian Studies
David Powelstock, Chair of the Russian and East European Studies Program, presented a proposal to create a new major and minor in Russian Studies, as recommended by the April 2009 CARS report. This proposal has been discussed and approved by the Humanities School Council, Undergraduate Departmental Representatives, and other appropriate majors and minors. The goals of Russian Studies, which would include elements of the major in Russian Language and Literature, are to build on the university’s curricular strengths, allow enough flexibility to meet the diverse interests of undergraduates, and provide a strong academic foundation in three interrelated areas (language proficiency, critical reading and thinking skills, and a broad knowledge of Russian history and culture) to enable students to pursue various careers paths, from academia to government service to business and finance.
The new major would consist of eight courses including a Proseminar (ECS 100a or COML 100a) to be completed no later than the junior year, Advanced Language and Literature Study (RUS 105a or 106b, and 150b or 153a), and five electives (at least two of which must be RECS courses and at least one of which must be a non-RECS, non-RUS course). The new minor in Russian Studies would consist of five courses, including Advanced Language and Literature Study (i.e., RUS 105a, 106b, 150b, or 153a) and four electives (including at least one RECS course and at least one non-RECS, non-RUS course). The prerequisite for all 100 level RUS courses is RUS 40, the fourth semester course in the language sequence; most students are thus completing four additional courses in Russian language.
The UCC approved a motion to create a new major and interdisciplinary program in Russian Studies program, while also terminating the interdepartmental program and minor in Russian and East European Studies, and the major and minor in Russian Language and Literature.
David Roberts, Undergraduate Advising Head of the Physics department, discussed proposed changes to the requirements of both the BA and BS degrees in Physics, which were approved by the UCC. The number of required courses for the degrees would remain the same, but more than one required course would now be articulated. These requirements are consistent with both our peer institutions and with the practice of past majors. For the BA degree, eleven semester courses in physics and two semester courses in mathematics are required, including seven core courses (PHYS 10a and 10b or PHYS 11a and 11b or PHYS 15a and 15b, plus PHYS 20a, PHYS 30a, PHYS 31a and 31b, and PHYS 40a) and the equivalent of at least three semesters of laboratory courses (PHYS 19a and 19b, or PHYS 18a and 18b together count as one semester). Mathematics and physics courses numbered below 10 may not be used to fulfill requirements, but two advanced courses in other fields may be substituted with the permission of the advising coordinator. For the BS degree, students must successfully complete the eleven courses required for the BA and six additional courses (two chosen from physics courses numbered above 22, and two MATH courses, either MATH 15a and 20a paired together, or MATH courses numbered higher than 21).
Gregory Freeze, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, presented a proposal recommended by CARS and approved by the Graduate Council, to terminate the four-year BA/MA programs in Anthropology, History, Physics, and Politics. The UCC also approved this proposal. All currently enrolled undergraduates and those who matriculate before fall 2011 will still be eligible to apply for four-year programs in these departments. Five other departments, all in the School of Science, will continue their four year BA/MA programs.
Because a large number (approximately 10) of departments and programs have responded to last year’s UCC and CARS recommendations to streamline/revise their requirements, the UCC agreed to observe the following procedures in spring 2010 for approval of changes to the curriculum of majors and minors. Departments and programs, after reviewing with School Councils and consulting with UDRs/majors/minors, continued to present Bulletin text and a rationale for proposed changes to the UCC. These materials were distributed via e-mail, so that committee members could decide whether or not program faculty should be invited to attend a UCC meeting. If no one requested a proposer’s attendance, the changes were considered at the next UCC meeting without faculty presentation, although committee members could still choose to invite proposers to a later meeting to answer questions that arose.
The UCC approved a proposal presented by Jonathan Decter, Chair of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, to reduce the total number of courses required for this minor from six to five (one less elective, but all other requirements for core course, capstone experience, etc. preserved).
The UCC approved a new five year BA/MA and BS/MA in Computer Science and Information Technology Entrepreneurship, presented by Tim Hickey, Chair of the Computer Science department. Last year, the university approved a two year MA program in Computer Science and IT Entrepreneurship. The five year dual degree program would require seniors accepted into the program to complete three courses, including CS235a, CS236a, and one Computer Science elective numbered 100 or higher, in addition to courses required for the BA or BS in Computer Science. In their MA year, these students would be required to take four additional CS electives numbered 100 or higher, plus COSI 320a/b, a year long (eight credit) practicum in which they develop a marketable prototype of an original software application, and build a business plan for their product.
The UCC approved a proposal presented by Susan Lovett and Neil Simister of Biology to create a five year BA/MS or BS/MS in Biotechnology. The Graduate Council recently approved a two-year, interdisciplinary, professional Masters in Biotechnology, to begin in academic year 2010-11. The MS, housed in the Biology department but drawing upon courses from the Biochemistry department and the International Business School, will train students not only in the scientific fundamentals necessary for careers in biotechnology, but also in the business, legal and ethical aspects of the field. Graduates will be equipped to enter diverse careers, including scientific work in both academic and industrial settings, or work in management, regulation or financial aspects of the biotechnology sector, a growth area in the Massachusetts economy.
Dual degree students will complete the same number of courses (12) required for the two year program, with a required internship course between years four and five. In the senior year, two laboratory courses will be required in addition to pre-existing core lecture courses in “Molecular Biotechnology” and “Cell Biology” or “Structural Molecular Biology.” Students will also complete two biotechnology business courses. The internship would be arranged in local biotechnology, pharmaceutical or nonprofit research institutions or in one of the 50 biological science research laboratories on the Brandeis campus. The second year would consist of courses in Regulatory Affairs and Technology Management as well as existing electives in science and business, with the potential to continue research in project laboratory classes or in a Brandeis research laboratory. In addition, all students are required to complete CONT 300b, “Ethical Practice in Health-Related Sciences.”
Bulbul Chakraborty and Jacob Cohen, two members of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Workload Committee, joined Dean Jaffe in presenting the committee’s recommendations to establish a formal procedure by which tenured faculty in Arts and Sciences will, at the time of the annual activity report and merit review process, report on their recent (last three years’) contributions to the university in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service, and their expected and desired contributions for the next three years. This three to five page report would be reviewed by the department chair, the dean, and a faculty committee.
With fewer faculty resources and a planned increase in undergraduate enrollment, the workload committee believes that the university must establish ways to equitably meet the teaching and advising needs of students, while taking into account each tenured faculty member’s skill-set and preferences for shaping ways to contribute. According to the Faculty Handbook, changes in faculty workload policy must be reviewed by the UCC, School Councils, and Faculty Senate. After review, the dean has the authority to implement new procedures.
UCC members asked questions about: 1. how the policy would be implemented for faculty with affiliations in more than one program; 2. when the standard set of expectations would be articulated and if different expectations might be established for associate and full professors; 3. if an online template with information (courses taught, numbers of students advised) from past activities reports might be created; and 4. if the timing of this report might be staggered so that not all reports are due at the same time in the spring. UCC members found the proposed procedures to be fair. Dean Jaffe then shared comments from a meeting with departmental chairs, who asked if a new set of procedures and new committee are needed, or if a new question could be added to the current activities report, while utilizing the workload committee as an advisory group to the dean and chairs.
Last year, when the new Business major was created on the assumption that enrollment to the major would be limited due to resource and other issues, UCC members asked to review the admissions process to the major, which was presented at a February 2010 meeting by Ed Bayone, Chair of the Business Program. The admissions procedures would enable students to apply for entry after completion of three full semesters at Brandeis and three entry-level courses (ECON 2a, BUS 6a and BUS 10a), with grades of C or better. An on-line application would require a resume, a copy of the student’s unofficial transcript, and a one-page essay describing leadership or teamwork, and problem-solving skills demonstrated in a course at Brandeis or extracurricular, outside work, or community activity. The Business Admissions Committee will admit students in time to enroll in BUS courses for the following semester, after weighing the students’ grades in the three entry level courses, the students’ cumulative GPAs (taking into consideration grade trends and course load), and their essays and experiences. Students will also be able to apply later in the course of their Brandeis studies.
While it’s not clear how many students will seek admission to the major, 175 will be eligible to apply after the completion of spring 2010 courses, and prospective students are indicating strong interest in the Business major on their application forms. Funding plans allow for a steady state of 100 majors and 50 minors by 2013-14, so admission is expected to be selective. The procedures are intentionally designed to enable students to explore the university’s curriculum for at least three semesters before committing to this major, and students will be encouraged to plan for second majors, to either supplement the business major or substitute for business in cases where students are not admitted. Students who are not accepted into the major will have the option of completing the open admissions minor.
Stephen Dowden and Sabine Von Mering from the GRALL department, in response to a CARS recommendation, offered a proposal to terminate the major and minor in German Language and Literature and create a new interdisciplinary program, major and minor in German Studies. The new program will enable students to draw more heavily on courses focusing on Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland in other departments. The major would consist of nine courses including ECS 100a (European Cultural Studies: Proseminar); GER 103a, GER 104a, and GER 105a (advanced language and literature courses); and any five German literature, history, music and/or culture courses above GER 105a, at least two of which must be conducted in German. The minor would consist of four courses, including GER 103a or 104a, GER 105b, and two other electives, one of which must be conducted in German. Members of the UCC suggested that the new minor consist of five courses, in keeping with similar minors in other interdisciplinary programs, and suggested corrections to a few typos. They also encouraged the faculty to accept courses from other disciplines with significant German content, by petition, if students were to write a substantial paper on German topics. Von Mering and Dowden agreed to these suggested changes before the UCC approved the proposed motions.
Five members of the Brandeis 2020 committee (Susan Lanser, Robin Feuer Miller, Ilan Troen, Sasha Nelson and Leslie Griffith) and Provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss were present for the UCC’s review of 2020 recommendations involving the termination of undergraduate majors and minors. This review is specified by the Faculty Handbook as part of the “deliberative process,” which also mandates review by the Graduate School Council and Faculty Senate.
The proposals to terminate the majors in Italian Studies and Hebrew Language and Literature and the minors in Internet Studies and Yiddish and East European Culture in academic year 2014-2015 were discussed, as were matters related to the possible restructuring of literature and culture majors in the Humanities. The termination of these and other programs recommended in the Brandeis 2020 report is expected to save financial resources by solidifying faculty attrition and reducing the number or frequency of offering upper level courses in these areas, thus preserving flexibility for the long run. All faculty commitments consume time that could be deployed otherwise. These majors and minors were also among those graduating the fewest number of students per year.
Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs on Latin American and Latino Studies and Proposed Changes to the Latin American and Latino Studies Major
In February after discussing the report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs and the report and proposed curriculum change from the chair of Latin American and Latino Studies, the UCC postponed consideration of the program’s continuance and the proposed reduction in the number of electives required for the major until the Dean of Arts and Sciences was able to consult with both the chairs of LALS and Hispanic Studies about possible synergies that might be created between the two majors. UCC members discussed ways in which LALS and Hispanic Studies are similar to and different from East Asian Studies, Russian Studies and German Studies. Some of these majors include social science requirements and are explicitly interdisciplinary, others require language study or allow social science electives, and others are humanities majors focusing on languages, literature and culture.
In April, UCC members returned to their discussion of Latin American and Latino Studies. The review report commented favorably on LALS co-curricular programming (e.g., speakers, research grant support) but suggested that the program address curricular issues such as the dearth of courses focusing on the Latino experience and upper level courses in history or politics. After consulting with the chairs of LALS and Hispanic Studies, the Dean of Arts and Sciences reported on their significant reservations about combining the two programs. While the two programs share many professors and courses, the LALS chair noted that Spanish is not the only language spoken in the Latin American and Caribbean countries studied by its faculty and students. In Hispanic Studies, there is little interest in expanding the focus from literature and culture to include politics and history courses. A new tenure track professor of Latin American and Latino literature and culture will be joining the Brandeis faculty next year, alleviating one of the staffing problems outlined in the review report.
The UCC approved the continuance of the LALS program for another five years, and also approved the proposed curricular change to the major, which would reduce the total number of required courses from ten to nine courses. This change was initiated in response to last year’s CARS recommendations. The three core courses selected from History (HIST 71a or b), Politics (POL 144a or b), and a course on Caribbean, Latin American, or Latino literature would remain the same, as would the capstone seminar, but the number of electives would be reduced from six to five.
The UCC approved two changes to the requirements for the Environmental Studies major proposed by ENVS core faculty (Laura Goldin, Dan Perlman, and Brian Donahue). The first change would replace the current required introductory course, AMST 20a “Environmental Issues,” with a new required introductory course, ENVS 2a “Fundamentals of Environmental Challenges.” The new course will more deliberately cover the range of approaches students encounter within the Environmental Studies program, and can be taught by several faculty in the program. ENVS 2a would also become the required course for the ENVS minor. The second change would eliminate four other “core course” categories (Economics/Law, Environmental History, Ecological Sciences, and Physical Sciences) from major requirements, and replace them with four electives: two from the “Natural Sciences” and two from the “Social Sciences.” The number of required courses would not change, but the selections would be simplified.
After reviewing the report of the chair of Legal Studies and the report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs, the UCC approved a motion to continue the Legal Studies program for a period of five years. The review report commented favorably on the commitment of the program and internship directors, the involvement of the faculty, the seriousness of the students, and the special liberal arts character of the program, but expressed concern about the time demands of the LGLS 89a “Law and Society Internship and Seminar.” The Dean of Arts and Sciences was asked to inquire about the number of internship hours required for this course.
At a subsequent meeting, the UCC agreed to schedule in the fall term a broader discussion of its guideline regarding the number of hours required for internships for credit. This discussion will include representatives from the Legal Studies program and other programs with internship courses numbered “89.”
The UCC approved a proposal, presented by Joyce Antler and Tom Doherty from American Studies, to revise the core requirements for this major by replacing AMST 10A, “Foundations of American Civilization,” with one of eight courses from a cluster entitled “Main Currents in American Studies.” These eight courses focus on such topics as Violence and Nonviolence, Religion, Hollywood, or Race, Ethnicity and Immigration in American Culture. Foundational theories and concepts from AMST 10a will now be incorporated into AMST 100a, “American Culture: Foundations,” and AMST 100b, “Twentieth Century American Culture.” The other requirements for the major will not change, although AMST 100A will now be offered only once per year in the fall.
Report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs: International and Global Studies and Proposed Changes to the International and Global Studies Major
The UCC continued the program in International and Global Studies (IGS) for a period of five years, and approved changes to the IGS major and minor presented by Richard Parmentier, Chair of IGS, Chandler Rosenberger, IGS Undergraduate Advising Head, and Judith Simons ‘10, IGS Undergraduate Departmental Representative.
These changes replace the requirement that IGS majors complete four courses from one of six specializations (Cultures, Identities, and Encounters; Global Economy; Global Environment; Global Governance; Inequality, Poverty and Global Justice; and Media, Communications, and the Arts) and two courses from any of the remaining specializations, with a new requirement that majors complete two courses from each of three distributional categories (Global Media, Culture, and the Arts; Global Governance, Conflict, and Responsibility; and Global Economy, Health, and the Environment). IGS electives would each be assigned to only one of the three categories. Minors would take one course from each category. In addition, all majors would be required to select two of their electives from a list of “global” courses, identified as addressing issues or phenomena that are global in scope, as opposed to national, bilateral, regional, or international. These courses make up about one third of all electives. The IGS core courses and other requirements would not change.
The impetus for this proposal came from both principles underlying the CARS plan and from last year’s review of the program, which documented student concerns about the specialized tracks and the lack of community in the IGS program. The 2009 review committee report noted the lack of a central IGS office or space and the relative dearth of communal events, collegial interaction, and events integrating the individual components of the curriculum. The revisions are intended to highlight the “global” dimension of the program and to unify all majors and minors as “IGS students” rather than dividing them into specialized tracks, often corresponding with students’ other majors and minors. The changes, endorsed by the School Council, simplify navigation through the program and also simplify the task of accounting for students’ progress through the program.
In 2010-11, the IGS chair and administrator will have new offices in close proximity to one another in the Mandel Center. The IGS faculty executive committee is considering a series of lunch time, afternoon or evening lectures, perhaps featuring half hour talks with panel discussions of faculty, and/or students returning from study abroad. IGS may also share programming with Global Studies MA students.
International and Global Studies, initiated in 2003, has demonstrated its appeal to undergraduates by its strong number of majors (135) and minors. Its students are enthusiastic about the program and view the curricular changes as important improvements to an already good foundation.
Danielle Wolfson ’11, Student Union Director of Academic Affairs, and Michelle Barras ‘10 of the UCC presented a proposal to enable undergraduates to count one of their four pass/fail courses toward one of their general education requirements (GERs), provided that the student earns a grade of C+ or better in the course requirement. Students receiving a passing grade lower than a C+ would have the option of covering the grade with a “pass” but would not receive credit toward that general education requirement. If a course counts toward more than one general education requirement, students would have to select one requirement to fulfill with the pass/fail course. The argument for this modification is that it would enrich students’ educational experiences by enabling them to enroll in courses that truly interest them, but which they might otherwise avoid because of material that was too advanced or too unfamiliar. Students might then take more rigorous and challenging courses rather than “easy A” courses. For some students with multiple majors or minors, GERs are the only electives they feel able to take.
The Dean’s office shared the views of faculty members on the oversight committees for the Non-western and Comparative Studies (NWC), Quantitative Reasoning (QR), Foreign Language and Writing requirements. Faculty on the latter two committees do not support use of pass/fail for foreign language or writing requirements, noting that foreign language courses and the University Writing Seminar are not requirements with course options that are more rigorous or advanced. These courses are not in place for experimentation or exploration but to teach essential skills for each student's future. The incentive provided by letter grades to work one's hardest (and not just do the bare minimum to scrape by with a C+ or "P") is important to maintain in order for students to get the most out of these courses. The reactions from faculty in the QR and NWC committees and in the Social Science School Council were more mixed with some speaking against the requirement and others finding it acceptable.
UCC members reviewed information from the Registrar’s office which indicates that the vast majority of grades covered by passes are B’s. Over the last five semesters, pass/fail was initially selected about 500-700 times a term (more in the spring than in the fall), but only about 24-28% of the grades remained covered. It appears that students are more worried about receiving B grades than D grades. The proposed modification might increase the use of pass/fail, which currently cannot be used for GER courses or those taken for majors or minors. Many of the arguments for and against pass/fail in general are applicable to this proposal as well. On the one hand, pass/fail should enable exploration and learning something new and exciting; on the other hand, faculty are convinced that students use pass/fail to manage their time and effort, and that its use has a deleterious effect on the course experience. By being allowed to uncover a grade, some students will continue to try hard, but other students who keep the pass might have learned more if they worked harder. Will some students worry that they may not be able to achieve a C+, which is a less uncommon grade in science and math courses, in their pass/fail GER? What message does this proposal send students about selecting courses? Does it appear to condone the idea that students should choose their courses on the basis of grades? Committee members asked for information about what courses are used to fulfill the NWC and QR requirements.
The UCC continued its discussion at its next meeting by first reviewing new information on the number of pass/fail courses completed by the current graduating class. The vast majority of students completed two or fewer pass/fail courses, with very few (less than 5%) utilizing this option four times. If the pass/fail policy were revised, it is probable that some of the students who took zero to one pass/fail course would elect to take an additional pass/fail course. Some disciplines would be affected more greatly than others, as evidenced by data showing the courses students use most frequently to satisfy their QR and NWC requirements. This same data does not support the assumption that students are enrolling in great numbers in “easier” courses.
Faculty members of the UCC voiced concerns about how this and other policy changes affect student behavior. How can the university help students focus on learning and exploration, rather than grades? After considering various actions, the UCC tabled the pass/fail plus proposal until the fall when it will be reviewed in the context of a broader discussion of pass/fail rules. One member of the UCC requested that data be collected on the grade distribution of the first course students take in satisfaction of the QR requirement.
Lizbeth Hedstrom, Professor of Biology and Chemistry, presented a proposal to create a new track in Chemical Biology within the Chemistry major. This track is designed as an option for "pre-med" chemistry majors, and those with a strong interest in organic chemistry.
The requirements would consist of the following core courses: 1. one year of general chemistry (CHEM 11a,b or CHEM 15a,b) and laboratory (CHEM 18a,b or CHEM 19a,b); 2. one year of calculus (MATH 10a,b); 3. one year of organic chemistry (CHEM 25a,b) and laboratory (CHEM 29a,b); 4. one year of biology (BIOL 22a,b) and laboratory (BIOL 18a,b); 5. one year of physics (PHYS 10a,b or PHYS 11a,b or PHYS 15a,b); and 6. one semester of introductory biochemistry (BCHM 100a). In addition, BA candidates would complete two additional courses in CHEM, numbered 39 or higher, and one 100-level or higher course in BIOL, BCHM or NBIO. BS candidates would complete all of the above, plus CHEM 141a, and one course in molecular biology (BIOL 101a or BIOL 105b), and two more laboratory courses from a designated list, at least one of which must be CHEM 39b, 59a,b, or147b.
Chemical Biology is a new and growing interdisciplinary field, which uses small molecules to probe fundamental questions in biology. The curriculum of the new track highlights courses newly developed by junior faculty and is supported by the research interests of many chemistry faculty. There are many Ph.D. programs in Chemical Biology, for which students who complete this track would be well-qualified, but only about five undergraduate programs in the U.S. (UC Berkeley, St. Joseph's University, Wayne State University, SUNY Albany, and Stevens Institute of Technology).
UCC members asked if there should be limits on the number of courses that double count for the Chemical Biology track and the majors in biochemistry and biology. Others expressed support for banning triple majors. Because significant overlap already exists in the courses required for the biology and biochemistry majors, and there are no specific statements in the Bulletin about the number of courses that may double count toward each of these majors, the UCC will ask the soon to be created Division of Science to address the issue of double-counting across undergraduate majors in biology, biochemistry, and the Chemical Biology track of chemistry. The committee also recommended that proposed text regarding “Double Majors” in the Chemical Biology track should not be included in the Bulletin, before approving the new track.
The UCC approved changes to the sociology major, which would reduce the total number of required courses from ten (eight in sociology and two “upper division” courses in other social sciences) to nine. The requirements would continue to include SOC 1a or SOC 3b, and at least one course in three of five subareas (Theory and Methods; Health, Illness, and Life Course; Political and Social Change; Gender and Family; and Institutions, Communities, and Culture). The five other required courses would consist of additional sociology electives, including up to two cross-listed courses. These changes have been endorsed by the Social Science School Council, and discussed with UDR’s.
The committee next reviewed a proposed change to the Peer Assistant Guidelines, first established by the UCC in 1994 and last revised in 2002. This proposed change comes from the Committee for the Support of Teaching (CST), which devoted several meetings this year to discussion of training and support for Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs). In the context of that discussion, which also resulted in a new handout outlining “Best Practices/Tips for Preparing and Supporting Undergraduate Teaching Assistants,” the CST learned that in several of our science and quantitatively oriented departments, paid and unpaid UTAs are successfully grading laboratory reports, multiple choice quizzes, and problem sets, in contradiction to the current Peer Assistant Guidelines. The proposed change, offered after consultation with department chairs, would revise the current guidelines to state that “peer assistants may not assign grades for any essay assignment,” while no longer barring UTAs from grading objective assignments under the close supervision of the faculty. To ensure that appropriate safeguards regarding training and supervision are in place, faculty who utilize undergraduates as graders would be asked to complete a brief form indicating the assignments UTAs would be grading. This form would also request the signatures of the instructor and the TAs, signifying that each had reviewed the “Best Practices,” before it is sent to the department chair (and copied to the Dean of Arts and Sciences for at least the first round of implementation).
Committee members asked if this grading might be done electronically (no, not with our current software and hardware) or by graduate students (no, an insufficient number of graduate students are available). Faculty supervisors report that undergraduates are typically their most conscientious and responsible graders, even in comparison with graduate Teaching Fellows. Undergraduates in these courses have expressed no complaints or discomfort with UTA graders, who are more familiar with the specific course material than are the graduate students, who completed different versions of the course many years ago.
UCC members also asked if the entering of grades by any Teaching Assistants, graduate or undergraduate, could be done through a system in which the name of the student receiving the grade was masked by a number. (Later investigations of the LATTE system revealed that this is not currently possible.) Committee members also suggested that the “Best Practices” be revised to make it clear that undergraduates should only participate in the proctoring of quizzes when the course instructor is present. The UCC then approved the proposed change to the Peer Assistant Guidelines.
Tory Fair, Assistant Professor of Sculpture, presented her department’s proposal for a new minor in Sculpture, which would consist of six courses: four beginning/intermediate level Sculpture studio courses (e.g., FA4a/b, FA 6a, FA8a, FA23b, FA 112a/b, FA 119a or up to two cross-listed courses); and two Senior Studio courses in Sculpture (FA 110a/b). Sculpture minors would be allowed to major in Art History, with two of the studio courses double counting toward each set of requirements, but not to major in Studio Art.
Sculpture courses already serve students with a wide range of interdisciplinary interests including theater, architecture, film, art therapy, and computer animation. The minor, which was approved by the UCC, is intended to be a rigorous program that will encourage students to advance into intermediate and senior studio courses and to create a larger, more dynamic advanced sculpture group.
The UCC reviewed three proposals from the Music department for changes to the music major: 1. to add to the existing four tracks an option for a “trackless” or “general” music major; 2) to create an additional new track in Musical Theater Performance; and 3) to require, within the existing Performance track, that only two of the three required electives pertain specifically to “performance.” These proposed changes, approved by the Creative Arts School Council, are intended to offer more flexibility to students and to ease the burden of providing an adequate number of appropriate electives by a smaller faculty.
Committee members approved the third proposal, but asked that representatives of the Music department be invited to meet with the committee in the fall to discuss the two additional tracks. Committee members had questions about how the Musical Theater Performance track in this department would differ from or complement the Musical Theater track in the Theater Arts department, among other queries.
After reviewing the report of the chair of Language and Linguistics and the report from the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs, the UCC approved a motion to continue the program for a period of five years. The review report praised the dedication of the program’s faculty and its students’ seriousness of academic purpose. Issues to be addressed include the frequency of course offerings, staffing issues, and expanding/strengthening ties with related departments such as Psychology.
The UCC continued the program in Religious Studies for a period of five years after discussing the report of the program chair and the Standing Committee on Interdepartmental Programs, which commended the program for the events it has sponsored, its new courses on “Buddhism” and “Religion in China,” and the role the program plays in the curriculum of the university.