Proposed Amendment to the Proposed General Education Legislation for the College of Letters and Science


Meeting of the Faculty Legislature
January 27, 1994

The proposal is in three parts.

  1. To retain the existing language of divisional regulation 185, General Education Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor Arts, College of Letters and Science (p. 22 of the Call) in lieu of the proposed rewording (p. 24 of call).
  2. To amend the existing language of divisional regulation 185 (p. 22 of the Call) as follows: Add to paragraph 3, beginning "Each course in the program. . .," the following sentence: "General education courses should (a) be of a broad survey nature, (b) have no or minimal prerequisites, and (c) where appropriate, provide students with a critical appreciation of the theories, methods, and principles of the discipline in which the course is taught."
  3. To include in the General Subject Area Requirements of the proposed General Education Legislation (pp. 25-26 of the Call) the definitions provided in the appendix to the Report of the Special Senate Committee on General Education (page 21 of the Call), reproduced below in underline, with addition under Area D, Social Sciences, of the definition approved by the Legislature in 1984 and not included in the current Report of the Special Committee. This definition is in italics.

For comparison, the opposite side of this sheet reproduces the "objectives and definitions of the current program, as approved by the Faculty Legislature an May 24, 1984.

Area C. Science and Technology
Objective: To provide an understanding of the methods and application of science and mathematics, and the fundamental laws that govern the biological and physical worlds.

Area D, Social Science
Objective: To provide an understanding of what determines or influences the behavior and beliefs of individuals and groups.
Definition: Courses should (a) be a broad survey nature, (b) have no or minimal prerequisites, and (c) focus on theories and methods of studying social relationships; this can be done in a variety of contexts. e.g., the physical environment, the family, organizations, and cultures.

Area E. Civilization and Thought
Objective: To provide a perspective on civilization through the study of human history and thought.
Definition; This objective is met by courses in two categories. The first is concerned specifically with Western Civilization, presented in a historical framework, whereas the second includes both Western and non-Western cultures, together with studies of major categories of human thought approached analytically rather than historically.

Area F, The Arts and Area G, Literature
Objective: To develop an appreciation of the arts and literature through historical study, analysis of master works, and aesthetically creative activity.
Definition: Each course in this area will develop at least one of the following abilities: (a) analysis of expression form and technique in the arts or literature: (b) understanding of an exemplary figure in a broad historical or cultural context; (c) thorough comprehension of a school, period, or regional movement; (d) creative expression in literary Composition, performance in the studio arts. musical composition and execution, dramatic composition and performance. or dance and choreography.

Statement in Favor of the Amendment
xxx, History

The aim of this amendment is to correct an oversight in the General Education revisions that were passed by the Faculty Legislature on January 27, 1994. The revisions were designed to simplify the present Program, but in the course of writing them into legislation, the language that described the Program's aims and objectives, and that set standards for admitting courses to the Program, dropped out. I was a member of the Special Committee to revise General Education, and I can state categorically that it was never at any time our intention to create such a loophole.

Without these standards, the revisions do much more than simplify the Program. In effect, they alter it completely, keeping the shell of the present Program but filling it with one that is diametrically opposite in philosophy--a Trojan Horse program that would allow virtually every course on the campus to qualify as General Education.

There is much that can be said for a "distribution-type" General Education Program such as the deletion would create--it is, for instance, far cheaper and simpler to administer; it requires no thought on anybody's part to run, and it can fit easily into UCSB's woefully antiquated computer software. But are these good reasons to gut a Program that was only implemented after long and careful deliberation by a succession of committees, that is based on a clearly articulated set of objectives, and that has brought national distinction to UCSB? Now that undergraduate education and teaching standards have once again become items on the national agenda, is it in this campus's best interests to sacrifice principle for expediency?

This amendment is your opportunity to speak up for a Program that has criteria, standards, and principles. Do not be misled by smooth-sounding appeals to "flexibility" or "liberalization" to think that anything less is at stake.

xx, English

These amendments unnecessarily constrain the General Education Committee in its responses to the program revisions. While much of the language is taken from previous regulations and definitions, the new added sentence is deliberately restrictive (the sentence added to paragraph 3 of divisional regulation 185 and repeated in part as a "Definition" under Area D) : "General education courses should (a) be of a broad survey nature, (b) have no or minimal prerequisites, and (c) where appropriate, provide students with a critical appreciation of the theories, methods, and principles of the discipline in which the course is being taught." This sentence is designed to constrain the General Education Committee to elevate the "survey course" as the most eligible of all courses and to continue the prejudice against any course that has a prerequisite. Thus the effect of this proposal is to instruct the General Education Committee to be unresponsive to the proposed advantages of the revisions. The Committee is to restrict the possibility of taking even short sequences of courses that depend on each other (the phrase none or minimal surely effectively means none usually; otherwise why not no more than one?) . If these amendments pass, isolated survey courses without prerequisites are to continue to be the norm for General Education, despite the possibilities in the new proposal for more varied and more coherent courses.

Survey courses are appropriate and so are more focused courses; why not admit a course that teaches important methodological issues in a focused way even if (especially if?) it isn't one more survey? Should a focused methodological course and a linked subsequent survey be anathematized because one is not a survey and the other has a prerequisite? Many of the courses will necessarily be without prerequisite. And of course the General Education Committee needs to be selective about the courses admitted to the General Education list. But if desirable sequences appear, if coherence emerges, do we want to tell the Committee to stifle them and it? Why not instead instruct the General Education Committee to encourage sequence and coherence as well as both suitable survey courses and many courses without prerequisite? Why not let the Committee do the best job it can in encouraging the proposing of interesting and effective General Education courses?

These amendments were proposed from the floor of the Legislature and have not been reviewed by any of our faculty committees that reviewed the recommendations of the special committee--General Education, CEPAP, and L&S Executive. The speech moving the amendment stressed that this proposal would test whether the faculty wanted a core general education program or merely distribution requirements. The faculty thus far has not approved either of these possibilities nor are such proposals before it now.

These amendments are designed to reduce the choices the revision has introduced and to negate major aspects of the Special Committee's report. The Special Committee proposes a selective list of courses but allows considerable flexibility for student choices and for faculty course proposals.

document scanned & OCR by H. Marcuse, 11/15/03
note: although I've read through this, OCR errors may be present.
back to top, to GE workgroup homepage