Santa Barbara Division
General Education Workgroup
Minutes of the Meeting of October 3, 2003
Members Present: M. Dahleh (Acting Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, CoE), J. Heinen (GSA Rep.), D. Kohl (Former Undergraduate Council Member), M. Lopez (AS President), H. Marcuse (Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Chair, Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policy), B. Marick (AS Rep.), D. Montello (liason to L&S Faculty Executive Committee), A. Wyner (Dean, Undergraduate Studies, L&S)
Others Present: D. Blake (Analyst, Undergraduate Council)
Once the meeting was called to order, the workgroup continued to discuss the possibility of instituting a petition process, as some members had begun this discussion while others were still arriving. One of the arguments against the allowance of petitions was that 95% of the students who would be apt to submit them would do so as a result of having been irresponsible about completing their GE requirements in a timely manner. It was argued that we should just be able to say no to these students. It was suggested that the GE Program should be operated on a calendar basis, similar to how the academic personnel process is intended to work. It was also suggested that some problems could be solved by not approving courses retroactively. CUAPP has been moving away from the past practice of allowing retroactive effective dates, and now only uses them in extraordinary cases. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it was not considered by some to be an effective alternative to a petition process. There is no intellectual justification for allowing the same course to be used in one quarter, but not in a previous quarter, merely because a faculty member did not think to apply for GE approval in time. It is only administratively expedient.
There was some discussion of whether we could shift from the current GE Program to simply having a breadth requirement as some institutions, including UC Berkeley, have chosen to do. However, it was agreed that the workgroup does not wish to pursue this approach. The GE Task Force already considered this possibility and rejected it. A breadth requirement is most appropriate where students are very mature, responsible and independent, and do not need the guidance of a specific requirement. While UCSB's students are certainly moving in this direction, there are still a substantial number of students who attempt to find the path of least exertion in their pursuit of a degree (see the "95%" stereotype mentioned above).
Further consideration was given to Chair Marcuseís proposal that students choose two courses from the GE list for each area and the third course from among the offerings of a set of defined departments. Some members observed that the complications that would arise from the need to exclude certain courses (e.g. independent study courses) would make this option too confusing to be effective. It was argued that most of the courses that donít properly fit into departmental categories could be contained in an interdisciplinary category, such as an Area I. It was counter argued that Area I doesnít really fit as a core area. We would need to consider the contents of the various core areas to determine how well the number of requirements we are proposing works for each area. There was some support for Mr. Marcuseís proposal, but the group was cautioned to keep the rules as simple as possible. Also, if the requirements for several core areas are reduced from 3 to 2 courses, as we are proposing, then only one course in those core areas would have to be chosen from the list. This 50-50 mix would move too far towards a mere breadth requirement. There was much discussion of how to deal with courses such as Geography 5 (Human Geography), which are offered by a science department, but are not considered to be science courses, making them more appropriate for the social science area. It was agreed that this idea will be put before the entire membership at a future meeting.
It was noted that this requirement will ultimately necessitate that EVERY course be evaluated for its potential applicability to GE. This was the practice at UCSB in the 1970s, perhaps until the 1985 revision of GE. It was noted that our concern should not just be about the number of courses, but about what we have to do to explain the categorization outside of a department's natural core area. We also need to look at this proposal with as well as without the inclusion of an interdisciplinary area.
The workgroup will meet again on October 10.
Attest: Harold Marcuse