Departmental response to the Oct. 30, 2003 UCSB General Education Discussion Document (link)
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Nov. 26, 2003 [received by GE workgroup via e-mail, Dec. 16, 2003]
FR: Lee A. Rothfarb, Chair, Music Department

The Undergraduate Affairs Committee of the Department of Music commends the GE Workgroup for the difficult work they are accomplishing. This said, the Committee has a number of concerns about the proposed changes in the structure of the GE requirements. First we address general concerns, then specific questions and concerns about proposed changes as outlined in the October 30, 2003 memo from Harold Marcuse.

General concerns:
The Undergraduate Affairs Committee of the Department of Music agrees that the "GE program should be based on didactic and pedagogic considerations, not on resource management issues." However, the rationale for reductions presented in the Proposed Revisions memo seems to have little to do didactic or pedagogic considerations, and more to do with comparison groups and statistics. We are concerned about the paucity of educational philosophy expressed in the GE Workgroup's recommendations and would like to engage the Workgroup on that level. For example, we are concerned about confusion between areas of study and disciplines, and between subject material and methodology. Should our GE courses provide students with an introduction to a discipline and its methodologies (musicology, for example) or to material and literature (music from West Africa, for example)? Similarly, we desire clarification about the rationale for the new core area "Inter- and Multidisciplinary Studies." Though a number of our faculty are involved in interdisciplinary work, we believe we must first and foremost ground our students in the material and methods of multiple distinct disciplines, and we are suspicious of the pedagogical value of single courses that propose to represent work from multiple disciplines. In other words, a student embodies interdisciplinarity by taking an anthropology class in the Anthropology Department and a math class in the Math Department. Only after such grounding in distinct disciplines will an introductory interdisciplinary course make good didactic and pedagogic sense.

Responses to particular sections of the GE Workgroups Oct. 30, 2003, Memo.

General Subject Area (Core) Requirements

Point 1:
Summary of numerical adjustments Though we do not wish reify the divisions between Physical Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences, we are disturbed to see that all areas are facing a reduction except Physical Sciences. They will retain 3 courses, while all others are reduced to 2 or even to 1 in the case of the proposed merging or Arts and Literature. This devaluation of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the fetishization of the Physical Sciences is a broad social and cultural problem. We believe UCSB should be on the forefront of the debate about meaning of a general education. Please see our response to point 1.f below.

Point 1.b:
Total number of required courses We are very glad to see that the BM GE requirements will be considered separately and that the suggestion that there be "one GE program for all bachelor's degrees" has been shelved. The committee would like to note that UCSB's BM degree is the first such degree in the UC system. It is a strong model program for the UC, and any increase in the GE requirements would effectively destroy the degree and severely weaken the entire Department of Music.

Point 1.f:
Number of courses in core areas F and G. The committee is concerned about the logic used to justify reducing the requirements in areas F & G. The October 30 memo states that UCSB's GE requirements in areas F & G are "on the high end" of our comparison group and IGETC at the beginning of the paragraph, which would suggest that we are within a normal range, but by the end of the paragraph, we are asked what our "rationale [is] for requiring so many more HFA courses...than from most other UC or comparison institutions. We note that the ground has shifted here from Areas F & G to HFA writ large. Even here the memo still has UCSB perhaps requiring more HFA courses than most comparison institutions, but presumably less than some. It is not clear to us if UCSB's "high end" requirements should to be interpreted as something that needs to be rectified. Might they be a strength? The committee strongly opposes the combination of areas F and G. The intellectual tools required in the arts and in literature are complimentary but distinct. Meaningfully engaging poetry is a significantly different process than engaging a piece of music, for example, even if a given piece of music may include a poem. Furthermore, to combine these two areas reduces the mission of the University of California to provide a liberal arts education. It is the conviction of the committee that students must have wider and more significant exposure and experience with different subjects, and that the combination of areas F and G is an ideological move in the wrong direction. The committee also strongly opposes the net reduction of GE requirements in areas F and G from 4 to 3 courses. Such a reduction would dramatically impact the numbers of students taking classes on the departments in these areas. We are convinced that this is the wrong message to send, especially in times of reduced exposure and funding of the arts in secondary education.

Point 5. d:
Ethnicity requirement (Queer, Gender and Ethnic Studies Special Requirement) Though this is a difficult subject to institutionalize, we do believe that our students are demanding it, and many faculty are teaching appropriate courses. We will work to develop a list of courses that the Dept. of Music will offer in this area. We would like to note, however, that courses that examine different communities alone may not address the spirit of this new core area. Queer, Gender and Ethnic Studies must emphasize a set of critical tools, and not particular communities or ideologies.

Point 7:
Non-Western Culture. We prefer the "World Cultures" name for this existing requirement, with a description that makes it clear that the intention is the study of cultural practices beyond the normative experiences of our student body. Certain socio-cultural systems within Europe and America would, we believe, sufficiently expand the students' horizons and foster cross-cultural understanding.

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