December 11, 2003
TO: Harold Marcuse, Chair, General
FROM: Janet Walker, Chair, Department of Film Studies
RE: Proposed Revision of General Education Program
The faculty of the Department of Film
Studies has discussed the Proposed Revision of the General Education Workgroup
at several faculty meetings, most recently at a meeting of December 5,
2003. We appreciate the Workgroup’s courage, energy, and sheer time spent
in taking up the charge to proceed from the June 2001 and May 2002 GE
task force recommendations to a plan that can be adopted.
but we have also pointed out numerous times that our charge was to
" ... discuss, consulting with faculty and students as necessary,
the major issues that need to be resolved in order to implement as
many of the taskforce recommendations as possible." The
assessment and philosophy you seek can be found in the Task Force
However, we do not support the current
proposal. As various Humanities and Fine Arts chairs have pointed out during
conversations about the proposal, the document lacks a clear assessment
of the problems of the current GE program and lacks as well a clear statement
of the GE philosophy behind the proposed changes. We would like to make
the further point that, clarity aside, we simply do not agree with the implicit
and explicit assumptions that are legible, nor with most of the proposed
Area (Core) Requirements/Special Subject Area Requirements
intention of the GE Workgroup in creating the new General Subject Area
and Special Subject Area requirements must be to enhance curricular
diversity, and we applaud this priority.
However, as designed, the proposed
revisions to the General Subject Area and Special Subject Area requirements
seem to retreat from rather than to embrace current thinking about disciplinary
boundaries and the potential for intercultural understanding. To relegate
Inter- and Multidisciplinary Studies and the Ethnicity or Queer, Gender
and Ethnicity Studies Requirement to their own categories (be these
within the General or Special Subject Requirements) is literally to
marginalize the types of issues and courses that these titles might
encompass. Are we – and, perhaps more importantly, our students -- to
assume that the methodologies of science, sociology, and history are
discrete and unaffected by the cultural, ideological, narratological,
and historiographic issues raised by critical theories over the last
two decades? Given the risk of marginalization, it is a plus that the
Ethnicity and the QGE requirements are in the Special Subject Area.
This placement holds out the possibility that a Core course may possess
content that satisfies the Ethnicity or the QGE eligibility requirements
by considering issues of ethnicity, and/or gender and/or queer subjectivity.
disagree on this. We think creating a spearate category highlights
and validates those courses, rather than "relegating"
and "marginalizing" them. Walker and Marcuse had an
e-mail exchange to clarify this, and Janet said QGE might highlight,
while the real objection to an INT core area was that it would
imply that courses not in it were not interdisciplinary. (In our
view, it would only imply that they are less interdisciplinary.)
See e-mails, below.
- The logic
by which the General Subject (Core) Areas are currently constituted
seems to vary greatly.
Some of the Areas appear to cohere
based on a combination of subject matter and methodology, whereas as
others are constituted on the basis of subject matter alone. For example,
Core Area G, literature, contains courses that take literary works as
the central subject matter, regardless of whether what one is actually
doing as one approaches these literary texts is ultimately a critical,
a cultural studies, or an historical project. The revamping of Area
E by the GE Workgroup only exacerbates rather than rethinking this problem.
Reconstituting Area E, Civilization and Thought, as Historical Studies
– and excising comparative literature courses from the list under that
rubric -- furthers the mistaken assumption at the heart of the Core
logic that methodologies – in this case those of the study of history
-- are pure and unadulterated by questions of ideology, narrative, politics,
psychology, and so on.
agree that the current core descriptions are very diverse, and
our proposal tries to formulate them in more analogous ways. We
disagree that the current ambiguity of the area E description
will be "exacerbated" by a more stringent definition.
Certainly comparative literature courses may continue to qualify.
Our concern is more that CompLit majors (for instance) also be
required to learn about a historical approach, not only a literary
one. (Which thay can now do by using CompLit courses in areas
E and G.)
Please do not insinuate that the work group (or CUAPP) assumes
that methodologies are "pure and unadulterated." However
any GE program (indeed, the very existence of departments and
divisions) presumes that the spectrum of methodologies can be
subdivided in meaningful ways for practical purposes. Still, we
are very aware that many of our faculty can and do move from department
to department, even across divisions.
- It appears
that the GE Workgroup is not only restructuring the GE program, but
also, simultaneously, making implicit if not explicit decisions about
which courses would fit into which General or Special Subject Areas.
For example, the discussion document
indicates that "some of the large non-history sequence courses
approved to fulfill the current area E-1 would be moved from that area."
The document goes on to mention Art History 6 and Comparative Literature
30 as courses that "are also approved for" areas F and G.
That these specific points of decision would come up now, while the
restructuring process is ongoing is to some extent inevitable; one can’t
deal only in abstractions. However, it would seem undesirable to have
any such decisions made outside of the due process that will eventually
be implemented once the new GE Program is adopted. Establishing and
following proper procedures for the definition of course categories
is crucial to the success of the new plan since departmental and graduate
student support depend on student enrollments and enrollments may change
when a course is moved to a different category where alternatives for
students may be greater or lesser.
included this information to help departments understand how the
proposed revisions might affect them. We have no intention of
subverting due process. I should have written "might be moved,"
not "would be." Mea culpa. Please accept my apologies.
We understand the financial implications of changes to GE and
are actively seeking ways to decouple graduate support from undergraduate
FTE (to the extent that they actually exist).
- The memo of November 21, 2003
regarding General Education Criteria from Denise Segura, Chair of Undergraduate
Council, and Harold Marcuse, Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs
and Policy, sets forth new GE course criteria.
Given that the new GE program is
not yet in place, it seems premature to be implementing new criteria
based on a plan that is still undergoing campus review. It is one thing
to prune from the GE handbook courses that are no longer offered. But
it is quite another to impose a specific, and in our opinion overly
constricted, view of to whom, with what prerequisites, and how often
a course must be offered to fit the GE rubric. For example, the color-coded
sheets circulated to departments propose to drop from the GE courses
that are offered fewer than three times every five years. This stipulation
seems out of touch with faculty workload patterns. It is common for
faculty to have courses that they teach regularly, and in rotation.
One might teach a given course every other year, except when sabbatical
leave or course release interferes. Such a course might not be offered
the requisite three times every five years. But it might still be a
valuable and available course for the general education of students.
these criteria are NOT new. At some point (about 5 years ago),
institutional memory about them was lost. In reviewing old GE
committee reports, I found that more stringent criteria were applied
in other reviews during the 1990s.
We allow multiple exceptions and reprieves for sabbatical leaves,
etc. The rationale behind the 3-times-in-5-years rule is that
a student should have a reasonable chance of taking any listed
course during their 4 years at UCSB.
and new media may be construed as artforms, if only for the purpose of
locating Film Studies courses in Area F.
history is NO "less eligible" under the proposed "historical
studies" definition than it was before. The questions you raise
are PRECISELY our reason for proposing a core area for courses that
obviously use multiple methodologies to a significant extent. We value
the courses you name for a "general education," and wish to
give them a place that highlights their unique value in our GE curriculum.
Why should we continue to shoehorn them into categories that do not
capture their essence?
But our discipline and certainly our
curriculum possess intrinsic features that problematize the current definition
of the General Subject Areas. How is our film history sequence any less
eligible for the new Historical Studies rubric than any other cultural history
course? We know the framers of the discussion identify "non-history"
courses as inappropriate to fulfill Area E requirements. But which courses
would this target? Would History 87: Japanese History through Art and Literature
or History 182E: Korean Art and Archaeology still be fine for Area E since
they are offered by the Department of History? Or would these courses be
purged for their cultural tinge? And wouldn’t Film Studies 161: Third-World
Cinema be just as eligible for Area D as Black Studies 50: Blacks in Media?
Our discipline, along with others in and out of our Humanities and Fine
Arts Division by their very nature exemplify the value of cross-methodological
as well as cross- and inter-disciplinary approaches to science, politics,
society, and culture.
- Refrain from making "numerical
adjustments" (cuts) in the core areas.
Students need as broad and deep an education as possible. It is appropriate
that UC requirements exceed IGETC requirements. Lowering the number
of GE requirements may have the effect of passing the responsibility
for general education to the departments in the form of requirements
for preparation for the major.
we agree that UC requirements should exceed IGETC requirement,
we feel that a large disparity has negative consequences that
we would like to mitigate.
As to your suggestion: it is impracticable to require, and ineffective
to "encourage" faculty to include certain things in
their courses, unless we can offer resource incentives or sanctions.
We cannot do the former, and do not wish to do the latter.
Or, if it is felt there should be fewer GE courses, strive for a plan
that encourages students in something they already practice: taking
one course to fulfill simultaneously a General Subject Area and a Special
Subject Area requirement. Do this by making General Subject Area courses
writerly and concerned with ethnicity and world cultures.
- Refrain from
adding the new "Inter- and Multidisciplinary Studies" core
think that the creation of an INT core area would actually encourage
course creation or modification, not inhibit it, as you suggest.
We feel that the "national cinemas" course you describe
would certainly qualify under the proposed definition, which includes
blended "smoothie" approaches and content, as well as
discrete "chunks" of varying methods. Perhaps you would
like to propose language that you feel would more adequately ensure
the inclusion of such courses?
As to making INT a "special requirement:" this is certainly
a possibility, and we discussed it at length. It has two main disadvantages
over a "core" incorporation: it does not solve the problem
of listing courses in multiple areas, where they really fit into
none, and it does not encourage the creation of new courses. As
a special requirement, most faculty can claim that their existing
courses are INT and obtain the designation without changing anything.
With a core area, faculty must commit that INT is a defining feature
of their proposed course.
It is true, as stated in the Proposed
Revision, that our campus prides itself on interdisciplinarity, and
we agree that this is an appropriate source of pride. However, we believe
that it would inhibit the development of interdisciplinary courses to
relegate them to a category of their own, as if the GE courses in the
other core areas are not or should not be interdisciplinary. Moreover,
according to the Workgroup document, an Inter- and Multidisciplinary
Studies course must "devote significant attention to topics, concepts,
theories, and/or methods" from at least two disciplines or core
areas. This methodologically-based means of defining the terrain would
exclude courses in which methodological issues are either underlying
or simply not at the center of the course subject matter but where disciplinary
boundaries are nevertheless crossed. For example, our national cinemas
courses (Japanese, Latin American, Indian, British, etc.) don’t necessarily
or always contain an overt methodological component. But yet the study
of the given films may embed them within a wider cultural context that
might include considerations of architecture, photography, advertising,
print media, literature, and so on.
Or, if a new "Inter- and Multidisciplinary Studies" category
is to be kept, place it under Special Subject Area Requirements. That
way, students will be motivated to take Core courses that are also Inter-
and Multidisciplinary, because such courses will satisfy a General Subject
(Core) Area and a Special Subject Area requirement at the same
time. This will likely encourage the development of interdisciplinary
aspects of core courses.
Cultures" is definitely preferable to "Non-Western Culture"
for the reason stated in the Proposed Revision, that it is objectionable
to define "a category by the absence of something."
agree. Removing the "Western" bias from the core is
a major step forward; retaining the special requirement is a compromise
necessitated by a vigorous minority on campus.
However, it still seems to us
problematic to divide the world into "us" and "everybody
else," even if that other entity is World Cultures.
- Continue wide consultation on the
question of how to avoid constituting a catch-all category of otherness
while still encouraging students to study gender and sexualities in
the context of their ethnic diversity.
Core versus Distribution Model
The Proposed Revision aims to develop
a "core" as opposed to a "distribution" model for
We acknowledge that the core model, in which a relatively
small group of closely controlled courses is offered to the entire student
body so that a common educational culture is established, can work in
settings where there are resources to support small enrollment, intensive
courses. However, we don’t think the core model is the best choice for
our campus. Here our great strength is that we have many excellent professors
teaching a relatively large number of courses each year, some of which
need to be high enrollment in order to serve our sizeable student body.
To bring this talent and the resulting new areas of research to general
education, we will need a larger pool of approved GE courses. We thus
support the establishment of a "distribution model" for general
education. The distribution model enhances students’ options for advanced
study in a discipline other than the student’s major, and this, we believe,
is a positive thing.
|We agree 100%.
However, a distribution model would have student enrollment and thus
perhaps financial implications, about which you raise concerns in
implementation point 1, above. Do you favor this model in spite
of such concerns? This would be important for us to know.
The core model also poses the problem
of which courses constitute that core and the problem of whether or not
to allow "non-listed" courses to satisfy requirements by petition.
The intransigence of these problems, and the complexity of their possible
solutions, signal the conceptual and practical inadequacy of the core
cc: Debra Blake, Analyst, Undergraduate
W.D. King, Chair, Dramatic Art & Dance, convener HFA Chairs group
David Marshall, Dean, Humanities and Fine Arts
Denise Segura, Chair, Undergraduate Council