May 1, 2002
To: Raymond Knapp, Chair, Undergraduate Council
From: Jean-Claude Carron (Chair, Arts & Humanities Foundation Workgroup) and
Jeff Decker (Resource Person, Arts & Humanities Foundation Workgroup)
Re: General Education Certification Report for the Arts & Humanities Foundation
The report summarizes the following:
1. The process the Workgroup used to review courses.
2. The criteria used to evaluate proposals and determine their appropriateness to the foundational area.
3. Questions and issues that emerged from the review process.
The Arts & Humanities Foundation Workgroup consisted of the following members:
Jean-Claude Carron (Chair – UgC – French)
Robert Gurval (Classics)
Michael Hackett (GE Governance – Theater)
[unable to serve]
John Hall (UgC – Music)
Andrew Hewitt (GE Governance – Germanic Languages)
Deborah Kearney (GSA – English)
Cecelia Klein (Art History)
Hilda Koopman (FEC – Linguistics)
Sophia Kozak (USAC)
Gavin Lawrence (Philosophy)
Elizabeth LeGuin (Musicology)
Chon Noriega (Chicano/a Studies – Film, Television and Digital Media)
Colin Quigley (World Arts and Culture)
Patricia Wickman (Art)
Richard Yarborough (Afro-American Studies – English)
Olga Yokoyama (FEC – Slavic Languages and Literature)
The Workgroup met three times in March and April 2002 for the purpose of conducting a review of GE submissions to the Arts & Humanities Foundation. The first meeting of took place on March 8th, the second on April 8th, and the third on April 22nd. The first meeting was designed to review the charge of the committee, to provide Workgroup members with background on GE reform, and to establish the process by which the Workgroup would operate over the next two months. At the second meeting, Workgroup members discuss a number of “sample” proposals with the intent of establishing the criteria for GE certification in the foundations of Arts & Humanities. The third meeting, which took place after all submissions had been divided among and reviewed by smaller subgroup reading committees, was used for the purpose of vetting proposals ranked “undecided” by the subgroups. In between each meeting, Workgroup members reviewed submissions independently and in small reading subgroups.
First Meeting: Background information on the new GE was provided by Jean-Claude Carron, chair of the Arts & Humanities Workgroup. As an introduction to the process of vetting submissions, Jeff Decker, resource person for the Arts & Humanities Workgroup, briefed the committee on the review of course proposals already undertaken by the GE administrative support staff. Most of this meeting was concerned with process used to review courses. It was decided that a second meeting should be held for the purpose of holding a “norming” session on 4 or 5 sample proposals. The intent of the “norming” session would be to arrive at a consensus regarding what criteria the Workgroup believed a course should meet to justify inclusion in the new GE curriculum and a 5-unit value. For the sake of “symmetry” with the Society & Culture Foundation Workgroup we decided to break into five 3-person subgroup reading committees for the purpose of vetting course proposals. It was hoped that this would allow for greater continuity in the review of cross-foundational submissions. It was also decided that each subgroup reading committee would be chaired by a Workgroup member currently serving on either GE Governance, the UgC, or the FEC. In an effort to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, submissions would be divided among the reading committees to ensure that no one reviewed submissions at the subgroup level from their own department or IDP.
Preparation for the “Norming” Session: After the first meeting, Jean-Claude Carron selected five “sample” proposals and Jeff Decker designed a Workgroup Course Information Sheet to assist the Workgroup in vetting their samples. The “sample” proposals were drawn from French 5, Korean 5, English 95C, Linguistics 20, and World Arts 22. Courses from these departments/IDPs were chosen because they gave the Workgroup the opportunity to engage a variety of issues. These included: the status of intermediate foreign language courses within the new GE; how diversity is being reflected in the course curriculum; what to expect from a discipline’s “introductory” course offering; what courses qualify within the “philosophical & linguistic analysis” foundation subgroup area; and, how to handle cross-foundational submissions. The Workgroup Course Information Sheets contained 3 basic questions to be used during the vetting process: Is there an adequate rationale for inclusion in the foundations of Arts & Humanities? Is there an adequate explanation for why this course advances the specified GE principles? Is there an adequate explanation for how the course has been modified to merit a 5-unit designation? Workgroup members unable to attend the “norming” session were asked to email their comments on the sample proposals to Jean-Claude Carron, who read from these reviews during the meeting.
Second Meeting: The “norming” session was taken up with a discussion of five proposals. Each would receive a ranking of “A” (approve), “AY2” (approve for 2 years – see Third Meeting below), “R” (reject), “U” (undecided – request for additional information), and “NC” (not considered – see Intermediate Foreign Language Courses in section 2 below). During the “norming” session, 2 course proposals were approved (Linguistics 20 and World Arts 22), 1 was ranked “undecided” and sent back to the department with a request for additional information (English 95C), and 2 were ranked “not considered” (French 5 and Korean 5).
Subgroup Meetings: After the second meeting, Workgroup members were directed to read over their assigned subgroup proposals individually, and then get together at least once with their subgroup teammates or communicate by email to discuss and vote on the disposition of the courses in their care. Subgroup committees emailed requests for additional information on “undecided” submissions to Jeff Decker prior to the third Workgroup meeting so that requests for additional information could be made from departments and IDPs. Subgroup chairs also forwarded to Jeff a list of “undecided” submissions that the reading committee felt needed to be reviewed by the entire Workgroup at the final meeting.
Third Meeting: This session was taken up with the review of approximately 25 “undecided” submissions. There were a few cases where a subgroup committee wanted to grant approval to a proposal that was deemed borderline. As a result, it was agreed that in special cases a new ranking, “A2Y,” would be used to approve courses requiring (early) re-certification within two years. Finally, it was decided that Jean-Claude Carron, Chair of the Workgroup, would be responsible for determining the final ranking of the remaining “undecided” proposals receiving departmental/IDP modification after the third meeting. Jean-Claude would then forward all submissions approved by the Workgroup for inclusion in foundations of the Arts & Humanities to the UgC for final approval.
The second meeting was devoted primarily to discussing, clarifying, and establishing the criteria for vetting proposals within the foundations of Arts & Humanities. Throughout the discussion, the Workgroup was guided by the language of the GE reform legislation adopted by the Academic Senate on January 17, 2002, which reads:
The aim of courses in this area is to provide students with the perspectives and intellectual skills necessary to comprehend and think critically about our situation in the world as human beings. In particular, these courses provide students with the basic means to appreciate and evaluate the ongoing efforts of humans to explain, translate, and transform our diverse experiences of the world through such media as language, literature, philosophical systems, images, sounds, and performances. These courses will introduce students to the historical development and fundamental intellectual and ethical issues associated with the arts and humanities and may also investigate the complex relations between artistic and humanistic expression and other facets of society and culture.
Workgroup members agreed that while these general aims were useful for thinking broadly about courses in the Arts & Humanities Foundations a consensus need to be reached regarding how to handle more specific issues which might arise in relation to certain types of submissions.
Intermediate Foreign Language Courses: A lively debate focused on the appropriateness of “level 4 and above” intermediate foreign language courses within the new GE. Some members felt that the recent introduction of a “cultural studies” approach to teaching intermediate foreign language instruction qualified it as GE. Others maintained that despite this innovation, the aim of most intermediate language courses remains the “skill” of acquiring fluency in language other than English. This debate also raised the question of whether or not these courses satisfied the GE principle of diversity. Some argued that immersion in a foreign language constitutes an intellectual engagement with a culture outside the U.S. Others countered that intermediate foreign language courses do not foreground or only indirectly address issues of social (racial, ethnic, gender, religious, etc.) tension within or across cultures. The Workgroup did not reach a consensus on either issue. As a result, the Workgroup decided to “bracket” all intermediate foreign language course submissions, and ask the FEC and UgC to clarify the place of these kinds of courses in the new GE curriculum. Workgroup members were asked to rank the bracketed intermediate foreign language courses “NC” (not considered).
Introductory Courses: Workgroup members agreed that an “introductory” class offered for GE by a department or an IDP should introduce students to the discipline’s methodologies or “ways of knowing.” This consensus came about during the vetting of English 95C: “Introduction to Fiction” (used as a “sample” proposal at the second meeting). The Workgroup felt that this was an ideal topic for a GE course but that the syllabus did not (even implicitly) demonstrate how this class engaged students in debates within the discipline. English 95C was ranked “undecided” and returned to the department for modification.
Upper-Division Courses: Are upper-division courses appropriate for the new GE? There was a consensus that introductory courses are, generally speaking, better suited for GE than those at the more specialized or advanced level. Nevertheless, the Workgroup agreed that courses which are upper-division should not be exclude on that basis alone.
Courses with Prerequisites: There was some debate on whether or not to eliminate from consideration courses with prerequisites, which oftentimes signal an upper-division offering. It was noted that such an exclusion would disproportionately adversely effect departments outside the College of Letters & Sciences, such as Arts & Architecture and the School of Theater, Film & TV, whose GE submissions are numbered differently than most of those from the College.
Trans-Foundational Courses: A consensus was reached that submissions requesting certification in Arts & Humanities but originating from departments in other foundations would be judged primarily on whether the course integrated methodologies or “ways of knowing” (rather than simply texts) familiar to the foundations of Arts & Humanities.
Balanced Approval: There was some concern that the Workgroup might want to make an effort to ensure “balance” in approved submissions across Arts & Humanities departments and IDPs or within the foundational subgroup areas. A consensus was reach that achieving this kind of balance would not only be difficult but is not one of the responsibilities of the Workgroup.
Linguistics Analysis Subgroup Area: After a brief debate, it was determined that the “linguistic” analysis designation among the Arts & Humanities GE foundation subgroup area of “philosophical & linguistic analysis” is not exclusively the domain of Linguistics Department courses.
Writing Assignments: The Workgroup agreed that GE courses within the Arts & Humanities foundations should, in most cases, contain a significant writing component.
Re-Uniting: All submissions to the Arts & Humanities Foundation are required to be credited with 5 units (with the exception of a few Honors Collegium “W” courses, which are already credited with 6 units). As a result, most departmental/IDP course proposals (with the exception of new course submissions) requested an increase from 4 to 5 units. Sometimes a department or IDP justified its request by claiming that additional reading or writing assignments were required or that a discussion section was being added to the course. In the latter case, Workgroup members were alerted to the fact that most discussion sections met for only one hour/week, and that in such cases the proposal needed to demonstrate an additional two hours/week of student participation. It was decided that, in order to make an informed decision on re-uniting, the Workgroup would require an accompanying prose explanation to the numerical account of student hours provided on the Course Information Sheet.
3. Questions/Issues (For Future Consideration)
Questions were raised and a consensus could not be reached on a few issues.
Intermediate Foreign Language Courses: What is the policy on approving “level 4” and above intermediate foreign language courses within the new GE curriculum? Do these kinds of classes ask students to engage the foundations of the Arts & Humanities or are they primarily concerned with teaching students fluency in language other than English? (Likewise, the “NC” ranking was given to Philosophy 31: “Logic, First Course” because the Workgroup felt that the primary purpose of this class was to develop student “skills” in quantitative reasoning.) If intermediate foreign language courses are appropriate for inclusion in Arts & Humanities, in which foundational subgroup area – “literary and cultural analysis” or “philosophical and linguistic analysis” – are they best suited? Is it best to have a “blanket” policy, which can be applied uniformly across these kinds of offerings? Or would it be best to handle these courses on a case-by-case basis, and approve only intermediate foreign language courses that go significantly beyond language acquisition? (This possibility raised the issue that, given the increased difficulty of non-Western foreign languages for English-speakers, it would be much more difficult for GE credit to be conferred upon non-Western intermediate language classes.)
Courses Taught in a Foreign Language: A related concern was raised regarding classes not considered intermediate foreign language courses that nonetheless are taught exclusively in language other than English. The Workgroup decided to deny approval to such courses but would like to have a clear policy articulated regarding the appropriateness of courses taught in a foreign language for GE.
Upper-Division Courses: Are upper-division courses, which sometimes rely on prerequisites and are oftentimes more specialized than lower-division courses, appropriate for the new GE curriculum? Should only lower-division courses qualify for GE? (This would require some departments, exclusively those outside the College, to renumber a few of their offerings to reflect this division.)
It is the recommendation of the Workgroup that the UgC and FEC take up these matters with the departments and IDPs.