Posted on the UCSB GE workgroup website (link) by H. Marcuse, 4/24/04
These implementation recommendations derive from the 2/18/04 draft final GE workgroup report (link), which was distributed at the 2/19/04 Undergraduate Council meeting (2/19/04 UgC minutes).
These recommendations are slated for discussion in the Undergraduate Council on 4/29/04.

Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

To: Undergraduate Council, Denise Segura, Chair
Faculty Executive Committee, Bruce Bimber, Chair [was not sent to him, pending UgC approval]

From: Harold Marcuse, chair, CUAPP

Date: Feb. 19, 2004

Re: Proposal for a first step in General Education reform

As discussed at the Feb. 19, 2004 Undergraduate Council meeting, I would like to propose a first step in reforming UCSB's General Education program. In recent years the General Education Committee and its successor CUAPP have found the descriptions of the GE General Subject areas increasingly unsuitable for judging the courses our faculty submit for approval. For instance (see table on p. 2), the descriptions of areas D and E are so broad that essentially any course in the Social Sciences, Humanities or Fine Arts could be included under both categories! In June 2001 the GE Task Force proposed five new GE core areas whose definitions are clearer and more precise. It would help CUAPP's work enormously if the present General Subject Area definitions were updated along the lines of that proposal. Additionally, as part of the general "housecleaning" of GE courses that began in November 2003, all courses currently approved for GE are slated to be recalled and reviewed over a four year period. Having more adequate definitions would greatly facilitate that process.

Therefore we suggest the following procedure:

  1. The Undergraduate Council and the L&S Faculty Executive Committee review the Task Force core area descriptions, and optimize them if necessary.
  2. The Council and the FEC together present these new descriptions to the faculty at large and solicit feedback about:
    a) whether they agree that these area descriptions improve on the existing ones;
    b) if so, whether they have suggestions for further optimization, or
    c) if not, what new area descriptions they would propose.
    The urgency of this undertaking might be emphasized. It has become difficult to categorize courses under the current definitions. If the situation is not remedied, it may be necessary to declare a moratorium on the addition of courses to the GE-approved list.
  3. Since the GE work group incidentally found that there is strong sentiment across campus that UCSB should move towards implementing a distribution-type GE program, departments might also be asked explicitly to what extent their department's course offerings fit into any one or more of these categories (or modified categories they propose). If the campus decides to move toward a distribution system, this information would be very helpful in setting it up. Departments might also be asked explicitly which type of GE program they prefer. (It might then be necessary to include implementation details, for instance about courses that bridge core areas, or possible hybrid programs.)
  4. Once this feedback has been received, depending on the outcome, a proposal would be brought before the faculty legislature to either:
    a) modify the current General Subject area definitions as proposed, or
    b) implement a distribution-type program with the departments distributed according to the new definitions.

The table below compares the current General Area and (lightly edited) Task Force Core Area descriptions. Note that the listing of departments was not intended to be complete.

AREA C - Science, Mathematics, and Technology

Objective: To provide an understanding of the methods and applications of science and mathematics, and the fundamental laws that govern the biological and physical worlds.

Science, Mathematics, and Technology: astrophysics, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, ecology, environmental studies, evolution, geology, geography, marine sciences, mathematics, physics, biopsychology, statistics

Disciplines whose knowledge claims are based on observation, experimentation, and deductive and mathematical reasoning with the aim of understanding and characterizing the origin, content, and evolution of the universe and the forces that continue to shape it.

AREA D - Social Science

Objective: To provide an understanding of what determines or influences the behavior and beliefs of individuals and groups.

Social Sciences: sociology, economics, social psychology, communication, anthropology, political science

Disciplines whose knowledge claims are based upon the systematic study of human behavior, including analysis of how people interact in various contexts as well as examination of the organizational, institutional, and cultural conventions produced by groups and/or societies.

AREA E - Civilization and Thought

Objective: To provide a perspective on civilization through the study of human history and thought. [Two subcategories: courses on "Western civilization, presented in a historical framework," and courses studying "major categories of human thought approached analytically rather than historically."]

Historical Studies: history, religious studies, art history, archaeology, classics

Disciplines whose knowledge claims rely on the analysis of a broad range of sources about past cultures with the aim of understanding those cultures in themselves, as they have changed over time, and in their relationships to other cultures.

AREA F - Arts

Objective: To develop an appreciation of the arts through historical study, analysis of master works, and aesthetically creative activity.

Art Studies: drama, dance, studio art, art history, music, film studies

Disciplines that engage with the practice, history, criticism, theory and cultural significance of the fine and performing arts, popular arts and visual culture.

AREA G - Literature

Objective: To develop an appreciation of literature through historical study, analysis of master works, and aesthetically creative activity.

Literary and Textual Studies: literature, philosophy, political theory, classics, religious studies

Disciplines whose knowledge claims are based on the analysis of writings and whose methods include careful consideration of ways of reading texts.

prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 4/24/04
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