Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

May 15, 2003

To:Walter Yuen, Chair
Academic Senate

Fm: Denise Segura, Chair
Undergraduate Council

Re: Summary Report on GE and a Request for Approval of GE Criteria

On behalf of the Undergraduate Council, I am pleased to provide you and the Faculty Legislature with the following summary report of the progress-to-date of the General Education Workgroup. Included within this report is a request for approval of GE criteria, which the Undergraduate Council respectfully requests that the Faculty Legislature consider for approval at its next meeting.

On December 5, 2002, the Faculty Legislature rescinded approval of the 2002 General Education proposal and referred it to the Undergraduate Council "to develop a specific General Education plan" (Faculty Legislature Minutes, December 5, 2002). At your request, and in consultation with L & S Executive Committee Chair Stephen Weatherford, I formed a small GE Workgroup to review the existing proposal, formulate a clear statement about the various points in it that have been debated, and amend it to ensure that the final language conforms to the intent of the original task force and the Undergraduate Council. The GE Workgroup is co-chaired by Undergraduate Council Vice Chair Claudine Michel and Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policy (CUAPP) Chair Harold Marcuse. Six members of the Undergraduate Council were tapped for the Workgroup (see attached roster). I consulted with Stephen Weatherford to secure L & S representation on the Workgroup. The College of Engineering also is represented. Al Wyner, Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs participates on the GE Workgroup along with three undergraduate students including Associated Students President Chrystine Lawson, and Jennifer Heinen from the GSA.

The GE Workgroup began its discussions on January 22, 2003. Since that time, the GE Workgroup has consulted a number of times with the Office of Budget and Planning, the Registrar, undergraduate advisors from the College of Letters & Sciences, L & S Deans, faculty from the Ethnic Studies departments, and department chairs and undergraduate advisors within L & S. The GE Workgroup met almost every Friday afternoon for 2 to 2 hours for a total of 14 meetings. The GE Workgroup held three additional meetings with deans and department chairs from each of the L & S divisions.

The GE Workgroup has not yet completed its deliberations and anticipates submitting a proposal for a revised General Education during Fall 2003 to the executive committees of each undergraduate college for review after which it will be submitted for approval to the full Undergraduate Council. The Council will then consider the comments, finalize the proposal, and submit it to the Faculty Legislature for final action.

As part of its deliberations, the GE Workgroup achieved consensus with respect to the formal criteria for General Education courses. Establishing these criteria is an important first step in GE reform, and if ratified by the Faculty Legislature, will enable CUAPP and the Undergraduate Council to provide a clearer understanding of general education at UCSB through evaluation of the suitability of courses for GE based on their formal appropriateness rather than subject content. This evaluation is urgently needed in light of the finding by the GE Workgroup that a substantial number of the over 1200 courses now on the GE-approved list are rarely used to satisfy requirements, and many are inconsistently or no longer offered. The Undergraduate Council, at its meeting of May 14, 2003, discussed the need to critically evaluate the current list of GE-approved courses to conform to formal criteria through which we anticipate significant reduction in the causes behind past proliferation of courses that do not meet such criteria.

Fundamentally, general education is intended to provide a broad and/or in-depth intellectual experience for students without specialized knowledge in a field. The Undergraduate Council seeks to honor differences in the ways faculty and departments envision the presentation of knowledge as inclusive of either survey-type courses or more focused topical courses. What is critical across both settings, is that the course is accessible to the non-specialist. All the courses on the GE list should meet a high standard of dedication to the principles of GE.

The guiding principles for GE criteria include:

  1. GE courses must be open to non-majors on the first registration pass.
  2. GE courses may not have course prerequisites with the exception of one other GE-approved course (intended for sequence courses). Since "upper division standing" and "not open to freshman" are not course prerequisites, they are not affected by this proposal.
  3. GE courses must be offered on a regular basis.
  4. GE courses must have a current syllabus that is publicly available.

Suggested Procedure on Implementation of the formal criteria:

  1. CUAPP and the UG Council will conduct a thorough analysis of courses on the existing GE list (in consultation with the departments) to ascertain which courses will continue on (or be added to) the GE program.
  2. CUAPP and the UG Council will develop a more formal definition of "regular basis" after consultation with Deans and Department Chairs
  3. Deans and Department Chairs will be consulted if courses are to be eliminated from the GE list based on the approved formal criteria.
  4. Courses which are scheduled for 2003-2004 will be exempted from the implementation process.
  5. The UG Council will work closely with the Registrar and departments to ensure that adverse impacts to students due to any changes in the GE list are minimized

The Undergraduate Council expects a streamlining effect will occur with the reduction of courses that either are not offered regularly or have not been offered to non-majors on the first registration pass. This will simplify the GE program and forms the first consensus proposal from the GE Workgroup endorsed by the Undergraduate Council.

In addition to the proposed GE criteria, the GE Workgroup has discussed the structure of core categories and special requirements within GE. The GE Workgroup was not in a position to provide the Undergraduate Council with concrete recommendations in these areas. The GE Workgroup is in the middle of preparing to meet with the deans and departments within L & S to discuss possible refinements to the structure of core areas within GE, viability of a new core area in interdisciplinary studies, re-integration of "technology" into the "Science and Mathematics" area title, and reconfiguration of the core areas of historical studies, arts and humanities. The GE Workgroup is currently discussing the feasibility of a "special" requirement that focuses on global and comparative populations and cultures and/or gender/queer studies. These issues outlined briefly here were discussed within the original GE Task Force report and therefore, form critical points of discussion for the current GE Workgroup.

The GE Workgroup indicated to the Undergraduate Council that they intend to consult broadly with the Faculty Executive Committees of the undergraduate colleges, deans, and departments before coming to the Council with specific recommendations in any of the Core or Special Requirement areas. The Undergraduate Council anticipates a final report on the entire programmatic structure of GE by the end of Fall Quarter 2003.

In sum, the Undergraduate Council is pleased to report that the GE Workgroup has developed a set of guiding principles for GE course criteria for consideration by the Faculty Legislature. We respectfully request you to consider our proposal favorably. The GE Workgroup is in the process of refining the structure of core categories and special requirements within GE. The Undergraduate Council anticipates returning to the Faculty Legislature by either the end of Fall 2003 or early Winter 2004 with a fully developed proposal for your consideration. I would like to thank you in advance for your support of this important undertaking designed to enhance the excellence of undergraduate education at UCSB.

Members of the General Education Workgroup

Harold Marcuse, Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Member, Undergraduate Council
Chair, Committee on Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policy
Department of History

Claudine Michel, Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Vice-Chair, Undergraduate Council
Department of Black Studies

Jennifer Heinen, Graduate Student Association Representative
Graduate Student, School of Education

Marshall Higa, Associate Students Representative

David Kohl, Member, Undergraduate Council, Chair, Committee on Student Affairs
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Chrystine Lawson, President, Associated Students

Dan Montello, L & S Executive Committee Representative
Department of Geography

Al Wyner, Dean, Undergraduate Studies, College of Letters and Science

Xiaojian Zhao, Member, Undergraduate Council; Member, Committee on Student Affairs
Department of Asian American Studies

Consultants to the GE Workgroup

Marie Dahleh, Academic Coordinator
Mechanical & Computer Engineering

Susan McLeod, Writing Program Director
Member, Undergraduate Council
Member, Committee on Admissions, Enrollment and Relations with Schools

Jim Proctor, Member, Undergraduate Council
Member, Committee on Admissions, Enrollment and Relations with Schools

Denise Segura, Chair, Undergraduate Council
Department of Sociology

Staff Advisor to the GE Workgroup

Debra Blake, Analyst, Undergraduate Council


memo dated 5/15/2003; page created by H. Marcuse, May 17, 2004
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