Santa Barbara Division
Minutes of the Meeting of February 19, 2004
Members present: C. Anderson, R. Bergstrom, O. Blaes, R. Flacks, H. Marcuse, S. McLean, S. McLeod, E. Prieto, J. Proctor, D. Segura (Chair), T. Shimin, R. Warner
Members absent: F. Brewer, F. Lopez-Alvez, J. Park
Also present: D. Blake (UgC Analyst), K. Meyer (GSA Rep.), N. Tingle, Lecturer Representative
Final report of the GE Workgroup
GE Workgroup Chair Harold Marcuse informed the Council that the General Education Workgroup may be ready to disband, as it feels that it cannot create a GE program that will find the support of the faculty, based on the proposal put forward by the GE Task Force. The next GE program at UCSB will likely either have less radical changes, or be fundamentally different from both the current program and that proposed by the Task Force. The Undergraduate Council will discuss the situation at a future meeting and review the workgroup’s final report to determine whether any further action by the workgroup is appropriate. The Council is very grateful to the workgroup members for all the hard work they have contributed.
Mr. Marcuse presented his provisional analysis of responses to the broadly circulated discussion document regarding program revisions under consideration by the workgroup. Eight HFA departments responded formally, 2 more informally, and MLPS sent a collective response. The distribution to the Social Sciences division was delayed until after the response deadline, and only limited feedback was obtained at an informational meeting. Based on the feedback from the HFA departments, Mr. Marcuse did not deem it expedient to solicit official responses to the discussion document from Social Science chairs. Since most faculty are not familiar with the complex interrelationships and implications of GE program choices, it would be better to ask them specific questions than to request assessments of program options. The former fosters constructive buy-in, while the latter seems to invite negative criticism.
Mr. Marcuse described the difference between a core oriented GE program and a program based on a distribution requirement. He asserted that a significant number of departments appear to prefer the distribution model. He suggested the possibility of approaching departments to assess explicitly whether this is actually the case. He also suggested that some group should be convened to study the implications of such a change.
Mr. Marcuse pointed out that it may be possible to institutionalize a hybrid model that combines both the core course and distribution approaches. This would be comprised of a short list of courses that have been carefully reviewed and approved for their particular appropriateness as GE courses, combined with a distribution requirement for additional courses or whole general subject areas. For example, for a 3-course requirement in a particular GE area, 2 courses might be required to be chosen from a list of courses, while the third could be selected distribution-style from a list of departments. Alternatively, some subject areas (such as C, D, F and G, for example) might be entirely distribution, while E (for example) might be based entirely on a list of courses. Even in a pure distribution system, a list of specially vetted courses might be retained as "recommended for GE." This would give students some guidance, ensure a high standard for their GE experience, and provide some of the channeling of enrollments some departments find desirable.
There was a question as to why the Undergraduate Council should be charged with designing a GE program for the College of Letters and Science. The GE Workgroup has observed that resource issues tend to be the driving force behind faculty opinion on GE in many departments. This may work to compromise the goal of GE to enrich students' overall academic experience. Since the Undergraduate Council is charged with overseeing the quality of undergraduate education, a case can be made for its involvement in the design of the general education program that is pursued by the vast majority of undergraduates. There was however some sentiment that each college should take care of designing and maintaining its own GE program.
It was agreed that there is a need to alleviate some of the burden imposed on CUAPP by the GE Program. It was suggested that a distribution model be drawn up and presented to the Council to assess the level of support for this approach among members. It was also suggested that, should a core oriented program remain in place, the creation of better definitions for core areas D-G would enable CUAPP to adhere to a higher standard when reviewing courses, thereby addressing the problem of lack of coherence among some GE general subject areas. It was agreed that this task should be completed this year, before exploring a possible move to a distribution requirement, which would require prolonged consultation and new legislation. Mr. Marcuse agreed to provide old and new core area descriptions for discussion at the next meeting. Meanwhile the Council will continue to weed out courses that are not appropriate for GE through implementation of the new formal criteria. The PRP process can also be used as a tool to assess the quality of departmental participation in the GE Program.
Student Affairs proposal
It has been proposed by the standing Committee on Undergraduate Student Affairs that a proposal be submitted by the Undergraduate Council to keep the Coral Tree Café open in accordance with the schedule of evening events in Campbell Hall. This idea was well received by members of the Council.
Attest: Denise Segura, Chair