After 10 months of deliberations, the UCSB GE workgroup had developed
its recommendations far enough for us to release or recommendations to date to
the entire campus for discussion. The result is this Oct. 30, 2003 report, which
has been under revision since its Apr. 26 and May 19, 2003 versions (link
to 4/03 long version, link to 5/03
The html version below contains hyperlinks to various ancillary discussion documents
BS/BFA/BM, etc.) and resources (June 2001, May
2002 GE Task Force reports, etc.).
If you wish to print this document, please use this "official" pdf
version in standard format without the hyperlinks.
Santa Barbara Division
divisional deans, department chairs, faculty executive committees, Graduate
Student Association, Associated Students (text of e-mail
cover memo, Oct. 31, 2003)
Marcuse, chair, General Education Workgroup
revision of General Education program,
discussion document for campuswide
The General Education workgroup has almost completed a thorough review and
discussion of the June 2001 and May 2002 GE task force reports (all documents
and many more resources are available at the workgroup's homepage: www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/ge).
On most issues we have achieved consensus or near-consensus, while on others
a range of options is still under discussion. We would like to present the results
of our deliberations to date to the campus community, in order to initiate a
campuswide discussion of the entire proposed program, and especially of the
less consensual items. We expect that some feedback will focus primarily on
issues that concern certain constituencies, but we hope that these constituencies
will also consider the need to compromise between competing demands to come
up with a coherent and balanced whole.
We encourage all members of the campus community to discuss this program with each other, and we welcome your feedback. Please send questions and comments to email@example.com, with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will collate them and put them before the GE workgroup for discussion. Members of the workgroup are also available to attend department and divisional meetings to explain our suggestions and the reasoning behind their various aspects. If anyone wishes to request workgroup representatives, please send us the relevant information about your meeting, as well as your specific concerns. If you would like us to schedule campuswide forums on specific issues, please let us know that as well.
Deadline for comments. Ideally, we would like to receive your
feedback prior to the Thanksgiving recess (Nov. 26), so that
we can finalize our recommendations early next quarter. However, we realize
that this may not be possible in all cases. If you are not able to make that
deadline, please at least inform us of your intent to submit comments, and give
us an approximate date. We thank you in advance for your efforts.
Purpose of GE. Before detailing the specifics of our
proposal, we would like to recall to mind the intellectual rationale behind
our GE program, as published in the University catalog:
"the General Education Program is the common intellectual experience of all UCSB students, whatever their majors. Through the General Education Program, students receive an orientation to a broad range of intellectual disciplines: the kinds of questions that are addressed, the methods for solving problems, and the strategies for communicating findings and conclusions. … The … program also provides opportunities to acquire university-level skills in writing, critical thinking, quantitative analysis, and foreign languages …."
At the same time, as Acting Provost Ettenberg has written in the introduction to the separately published annual GE brochure, UCSB has historically endeavored to allow students "flexibility to follow their interests and individual needs" by providing "a wide range of approved courses." This statement reflects an additional aspect of GE at UCSB, as it has evolved in practice: our program allows faculty maximum flexibility in determining the subject content of GE courses in each area, and students the maximum choice within the set of approved courses.
Resource implications. We would also
like to mention a function of GE, which we feel should not be confused with
its purpose. We realize that GE requirements can affect student FTE taught by
departments, with resource implications for TAships and even faculty hiring.
While we have studied possible effects of our suggestions and made some adjustments
to minimize undesirable impacts, we feel strongly that our GE program should
be based on didactic and pedagogic considerations, not on resource management
issues. There are many ways of structuring and managing GE offerings to the
mutual benefit of students and departments, and we look forward to working with
departments and administrators to find optimal solutions that do not compromise
the vision of our GE program.
This discussion document endeavors to be as brief as possible, while indicating
all of the major considerations behind various aspects. Anyone interested in
more information about our deliberations will find our workgroup minutes on
our web site: www.history.ucsb.edu/projects/ge.
Also, please note that this draft is for L&S B.A. degrees only. We are just
beginning our discussion of modifications for the B.S., B.M. and B.F.A. degrees.
The main features of our proposal are presented below in the following order:
changes to Core Areas are in #1-2, Special Subject Area Requirements in #5-8,
and Implementation matters #9-11. At the end (#12) we raise a more fundamental
issue that would begin to shift the nature of our GE program. All of these issues
should be discussed by students, faculty and administrators within and among
the L&S divisions MLPS, Social Sciences, and HFA so that the work group
can consider campus sentiment in coming to a final proposal that the Faculty
Executive Committees can review prior to submission to the Faculty Legislature.
General Subject Area (Core) Requirements
- The first set of recommendations concerns the structure
of the core subject areas of GE.
Summary of numerical adjustments (reduce by 3 courses, add one back):
- remain at 3 courses in area C, Life and Physical Sciences;
- reduce from 3 courses to 2 in area D, Social Sciences;
- reduce from 3 to 2 in area E, while focusing more directly on historical
- reduce from 4 total to 3 in areas F and G, Arts and Literature, while
linking those two areas more closely;
- add one new core area "I," Interdisciplinary Studies, with a one-course
- New methodological names for core areas.
We reaffirm the GE task force's new descriptions of the core areas, with
one modification. We recommend restoring the term "Technology" in the
title "Science & Mathematics" for Area C. The suggested redefinition
of area E to "Historical Studies" is the only significant change to the
present classification system. (For the definitions, see the May
2002 Task Force report, section 4.0)
- Total number of required core courses.
After consulting with department chairs and advisors from the departments
whose students choose the B.S., B.M. and B.F.A. degrees, we recommend
shelving the principle of "one GE program for all bachelor's degrees"
suggested in the GE task force report. This recommendation eases the pressure
to dramatically reduce the total number of courses required for GE. Our
program is on the high end of requirements among comparison institutions,
but it contains numerous alternatives ("loopholes") that allow many students
to reduce the number of GE courses they take at UCSB. In the interest
of equity, clarity and flexibility, and to accommodate the new additional
core and special requirements (one each) proposed below, however, we think
it is important to reduce the overall number of courses required to satisfy
the GE program for B.A. students. We feel that with greater care in the
design and selection of courses approved for GE, departments can increase
the quality of education in each respective area by requiring fewer courses,
while ensuring that approved courses attend more fully to the goals of
their GE area. Moreover, the combined overall course reduction and refinement
in GE could decrease the time to degree for some students, thereby contributing
to a broader campus and systemwide goal.
We have not yet discussed what modifications to our suggested GE program
for the B.A. would be necessary for the B.S., B.M. and B.F.A. degrees.
(notes from 10/31/03 discussion)
Note also the proposal to use a modified distribution requirement mentioned
in #12, below (jump)(namely that any course in a given
field could partially fulfill a requirement), which would offer an alternative.
This option would be even more attractive IF the campus decides that the
overall number of courses should not be reduced.
- Area C. After consulting with the
dean, chairs and advisors from the division of Mathematics, Life and Physical
Sciences, we found that the pragmatic reasons for the task force's recommendation
to reduce the Area C/Science and Mathematics requirement from 3 courses
to 2 no longer apply. Thus we recommend keeping this requirement at 3
courses. (IGETC—GE for transfer students—also requires 3 quarter courses;
for details see this work group's 1/24/03 minutes.)
- Number of courses in core area D.
After careful examination of the courses students can use to fulfill area
D, we feel that the quality of students' exposure to social science approaches
can be improved by reducing the number of required courses from 3 to 2,
while controlling more carefully the list of options from which those
two courses can be drawn. For instance, currently 6 different high school
AP courses, some of them very popular, can be used to fulfill this requirement.
The policy regarding high school Advanced Placement (AP) credit recommended
in no. 9, below, would raise the standard for such courses. Also, many
history courses, such as the heavily enrolled US history survey (Hist
17A-B-C) can currently be used to fulfill area D. Such courses would move
to the newly redefined area E, "historical studies." Given the substantial
number of courses currently approved for area D that have relatively little
specifically social science methodology, setting a higher standard for
social science methodology in the list of approved courses will result
in many students receiving more exposure to the social sciences
with fewer required courses. Additionally, the proposed new interdisciplinary
core area "I" would offer a new home to some courses currently listed
in area D.
- Number of courses in core area E.
After renaming area E from "Civilization and Thought" to "Historical Studies,"
we recommend a reduction from 3 courses to 2. This would for numerous
students still result in greater exposure to historical methodology, since
some of the large non-history sequence courses approved to fulfill the
current area E-1 would be moved from that area.
Data analysis estimate from 10-year enrollments: Arthist
6: 600-800/quarter; CompLit 30: 150-230/quarter; Phil 20: 200-300/quarter;
RelSt 80: 300-450/quarter, IN SUM 1250-1780 students/quarter enroll in
the non-history sequences. Taking an average 1500/quarter times 3 quarters
divided by 2 courses of each sequence per student yields about 2250 students
each year who CAN fulfill E-1 with non-history courses [Arthist 6 is also
for approved F, and CompLit 30 also for G]. That approaches half of all
students in a given class year.
Question: Which area would be most appropriate for the Phil 20
and RrlSt 80 series? Perhaps new area I?
- Number of courses in core areas F and G.
Possible reduction from 4 courses to 3.
With 2 courses each in areas F and G, UCSB is on the high end of comparison
schools and IGETC (GE equivalency certificate for transfers between 2-year
colleges, CSU and UC), which has 3x15=45 course weeks in "arts and humanities,"
where we have (3+2+2)x10=70 course weeks (the IGETC category includes
our area E as well).
Given our goal of streamlining the GE program and having more uniform
requirements for all students, some reduction here can be considered as
well. One way to achieve this would be to create a single "Arts and Literature"
area with 3 required courses. This area could be subdivided into two parts,
with at least one course required in each area.
We note that a substantial proportion of UCSB students on
campus already take 3 or fewer courses in this area. Ca. 17% of all students
complete GE with IGETC, and 16% graduate with the B.S. degree, which requires
only one course each from areas F and G. All students majoring in arts
and literature departments (ca. 10% of undergrads, but some are IGETC
students) will continue to overfulfill these areas, so that they will
also be unaffected by this change.
Question: What is our rationale for requiring so many
more HFA courses than courses from other divisions, and more than from
most other UC or comparison institutions?
- A new core area "Inter- and
Multidisciplinary Studies:" 1 course. One purpose of a GE program
is to ensure that all students at an institution are exposed to the unique
features offered by that institution. UCSB prides itself on its emphasis on
interdisciplinarity (see the 2003 draft Academic Planning Coordinating Committee
password 'framework' [link only available from within UCSB domain; see extract
of pp. 17-30]). Additionally, the GE committee is faced with an increasing
number of courses that do not fit neatly into any of the existing GE core
areas, although they may otherwise be ideally suitable for GE. Also, the GE
task force report (5/6/02, pp. 2,
4 [scroll up slightly], 5 [scroll
down from 4]) names as a goal: "to encourage divisional thinking about GE,
so that more courses reflecting cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary
divisional interests will be offered." However it makes no structural provision
for such courses, stating only that "Interdisciplinary courses ... may be
listed in more than one area of the core, although students may not use any
single course to satisfy more than one area." This suggestion presents problems
for the management and clarity of the GE program, which we would like to avoid.
In our discussions around campus we found considerable support for a new requirement
that would focus on multi- and interdisciplinary approaches. It would reflect
and enhance our distinctiveness in this area, and be perceived as a real strength
by prospective undergraduate students and their families.
After weighing the difficulties and merits of special subject area requirement
vs. a new core area, we opted for the latter. We discussed several models
for defining and gauging interdisciplinarity, which are laid out in a discussion
document on the GE website. We have developed a working description for such
a core area: Inter- and Multi-disciplinary
Studies. Includes courses that devote significant attention
to topics, concepts, theories, and/or methods drawn either from at least two
core areas, or from at least two sufficiently distinct disciplines within
one core area. [see also detailed discussion and course data
analysis in INT
Special Subject Area Requirements
- Quantitative Reasoning. No change.
- Writing Requirement. We recommend leaving
intact the current writing requirement of six courses. The task force proposed
integrating intensive writing into the core. Given the nature of course creation,
design and funding at this institution, our divisional discussions have led
us to think that this goal is not currently feasible. (One of our implementation
recommendations, published in a separate document, is designed to move in
this direction.) Instead, we recommend keeping the current six-course requirement,
but modifying the definition of suitable writing assignments to allow instructors
across the disciplines more flexibility while maintaining rigor. We have three
recommendations: require papers to meet conventions of the discipline, remove
the requirement that writing courses have a separate final examination, and
strive for a limitation of class or section size to 30. The current language
would be replaced by the following:
Note: The information provided by this latter provision should help to determine
resource implications for future policy formation with regard to this requirement.
- The course requires one to three papers totaling at least 1,800 words
exclusive of elements like footnotes. (Timed writing pieces, such as midterms
and finals, do not count as papers.) Papers must give evidence of sustained
- Where appropriate, papers should give students some experience participating
in the discourse of the discipline. (To write using APA style, for example,
would give students some understanding of how social scientists create
and share knowledge).
- The paper(s) are a significant consideration in the assessment of student
performance in the course. They must constitute at least 25% of the grade.
- The class/section enrollment for W course should be no more than 30.
If it is larger than 30, departments should provide an explanation of
how the evaluation of the papers is managed.
- Ethnicity requirement.
We have also discussed at length and consulted with various constituencies
about the GE special subject area requirement in ethnicity. Several problems
had arisen: new faculty have been proposing courses that dealt with ethnicity
in a more theoretical or comparative (non-US) context, and students would
like to see issues of gender and sexuality explicitly included in the GE curriculum
as well. Additionally, many students feel that one course is too little (the
initial proposal at the time of implementation was for 2 courses), and would
like to see the requirement increased to two courses, with the second course
encompassing theoretical approaches and/or additional groups as well. In our
discussions we used the abbreviation "QGE" for "Queer, Gender and Ethnicity
Studies," to denote this new requirement (see also QGE
- We found that among the faculty currently offering ethnicity courses,
there is little support for broadening the definition of the ethnicity requirement
to allow comparative courses, as proposed by the task force—if that requirement
remains at one course. We did not ask whether a broadening would be acceptable
if the requirement were increased to two courses.
Question: In order to avoid confusion with
the second, more broadly defined ethnicity requirement, would it be appropriate
to rename the existing requirement to "US ethnic groups" (US-ETH)?
- We discussed various ways of including ethnicity as a new core area, and
rejected them because the study of the named ethnic groups cuts across the
disciplines and core areas. It would be very difficult to provide sufficient
enrollments for a core area with two required courses.
- We considered several models for including in GE recently proposed courses
on ethnicity in theoretical or comparative (non-US) contexts, as well as
courses on gender and sexuality. Our favored alternative would be to have
two distinct ethnicity requirements, with the second focusing primarily
on these additional issues. However, since it would not be possible at this
time to offer sufficient enrollments to satisfy demand for the second requirement,
we recommend that students be required to take one course in US-ethnicity,
and one course in either US-ETH, or QGE.
- The description for this student-proposed special subject requirement
"Queer, Gender and Ethnic Studies Special Requirement.
This requirement strives to incorporate the experiences of intersections
of traditionally oppressed queer, gender and ethnic identities within, but
not limited to the United States. A course within this requirement will
examine social structures through exploration and analysis of critical discourse,
theory, and research.
- Western Civilization. The GE work group
discussed the GE task force's recommendation that the core "Western civilization"
area E-1 be transformed into a special requirement. The GE work group recommends
that this requirement should be made symmetrical to the present "non-Western
culture" special subject requirement. Because of the problematic nature of
the term "Western," we recommend renaming this requirement "European traditions."
(See notes about task force discussions: 3/3/00,
Minority for WCiv; 6/11/03 Majority
response; 6/16/01 GE committee assessment.
Added 11/15/03: WCiv discussion document
with links to Feb. 2002 campus responses and other materials.)
- Non-Western culture (NWC). The May 2002
GE task force report eliminated this requirement entirely. The May 2001 report,
section 4.2 (link; compare
2002 sect. 4.0), proposed
to integrate NWC into the core by requiring that all core courses attend to
NWC "where appropriate." That proposal changes the nature of the requirement,
which aims at in-depth study of a different culture. It would also mean that
teaching would be shifted away from faculty with primary expertise on those
cultures, to instructors whose research emphasis is elsewhere. That would
reduce the quality of instruction on this subject matter.
The GE work group is unanimous that the current requirement should remain
as is, but with a new name. We suggest the term "non-European traditions,"
which does not reify the problematic term "Western" in our GE curriculum.
"World Cultures" was also proposed. It offers the advantage of not defining
a category by the absence of something. We welcome suggestions of alternative
names for this requirement. (Information about comparison schools can be found
on the GE work group website.)
- Advanced Placement (AP) (see catalog p.
114 or www.catalog.ucsb.edu/gechart.htm).
While examining the quality of courses that satisfy GE requirements, we discussed
the use of high school AP courses to fulfill GE requirements. Given the age
of the student populations of those courses (which can be taken as early as
the sophomore year in high school), and the probable dearth of research experience
of the high school AP instructors, we affirm the Task Force's recommendation
that the practice of granting GE credit for AP courses should be curtailed
(5/6/02, p. 5). We recommend the
following changes to policy:
- First, only those AP courses that are equivalent to a specific UCSB
course that is approved for a GE area may satisfy GE. (This policy would
not apply to GE core areas A and B.) In practice, this would only affect
four courses in area D (American History, Comparative Government and Politics,
Macroeconomics, Microeconomics), and one course in area E-2 (European
Moving in the opposite direction, certain other courses not currently
acceptable for GE might count towards the writing-intensive special requirement.
An example of this would be the International Baccalaureate certificate,
which includes a year-long research paper project. This would have the
benefit of supporting the inclusion of writing-intensive courses in high
- Second, a minimum score of 4 (not the present 3) would be necessary
for a course to satisfy a GE requirement. In order to avoid increasing
confusion and complexity, raising the minimum test score would have to
apply to the specific course equivalency as well. Thus for example, students
scoring 3 on the American Government and Politics AP exam would still
have to complete the UCSB equivalent PolSci 12 for the PolSci premajor.
Students scoring 3 on an AP exam would still earn unit credit towards
graduation. We note that differential credit is already granted in English
and foreign languages. We have requested data from the registrar to assess
the impact this might have on Math 3AB and 34AB.
- We note further that UC Berkeley and UCLA now exclude all AP courses
from fulfilling their GE requirements. Based on feedback from UCSB departments
that have had positive experiences with AP students, we felt that such
a blanket policy would not be appropriate. It might create enrollment
bottlenecks, and it would limit the flexibility of talented students to
progress rapidly through our degree requirements.
- One difficulty with the GE Task Force reports was that they did not address
implementation issues with enough detail that potential effects of some of
its recommendations could be assessed. The GE work group spent substantial
time discussing implementation details and developing recommendations, some
of which are now being implemented by CUAPP. These recommendations are published
separately on the GE work group web site (implementation
- We have yet
to work out details for the task force's other recommendations regarding implementation.
There are two main issues:
- The position of a faculty director of GE who would coordinate and monitor
GE offerings. (direct link to details
in the implementation document)
- Another important aspect of implementation is the issue of a petition
process. The GE committee's past practice of allowing exceptions for individual
students only if the course in question is suitable to be placed on the
GE list was one of the main causes of proliferation of courses on the
list. In light of the formal criteria laid out in the implementation document
(some of which are already being implemented by CUAPP), which would exclude
many pedagogically appropriate courses solely on formal grounds, a petition
process with appropriate standards to ensure the quality and manageability
of the GE program will be necessary. (See document "pros and cons of a
petition process," link). Another
way of dealing with the bulk of this problem is described in #12, below.
- GE recognition on bio-bibliography. As
a means of raising the visibility of GE among the faculty, and rewarding faculty
who take the time and effort to offer GE courses, we recommend the inclusion
of a faculty member's participation in GE on their bio-bibliography, with
appropriate consideration during advancement and promotion. We have yet to
contact CAP about this.
- Use of non-listed courses to satisfy GE requirements.
One problematic aspect of the current GE program is the large number of approved
courses on the list. Many, especially upper division courses, are perfectly
suitable on didactic grounds, but cannot or do not meet the formal criteria
(frequency of offering, only GE prerequisites, etc.). GE programs based on
a "breadth requirement" principle (also referred to as "distribution" or "cafeteria
style") avoid this problem, but at the expense of the coherence of the program
and the ability to control its quality. Such programs are most appropriate
for institutions with responsible and intellectually mature student bodies
(or institutions unwilling to invest the resources to administer a meaningful
GE program). As UCSB's academic profile rises, some movement in this direction
will provide the flexibility to accommodate more independent and higher achieving
Allowing students to choose essentially any (upper or lower division) course
from the offerings of certain departments to fulfill one of the course
requirements in specific areas (esp. D, E, F/G) would meet this need and help
to solve the management problem. If this provision is implemented, the following
issues must be considered:
- In our discussion of implementation details we noted that this provision would require the one-time review of all courses at UCSB to determine their GE appropriateness (for instance, 195-199 independent study courses might not qualify) and core area suitability.
- This provision might apply to some core areas, but not others.
- This alternative would be more appealing if the numerical reductions outlined
in #1 above are not implemented. (jump above to numerical
discussion) It would be a smaller step if only one course in three, not
one course of two, in a given core area would not be subject to GE scrutiny).
document created 10/30/03; prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Nov. 1, 2003, links
added 11/15/03, apcc extract link 11/16/03.
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