Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

General Education Committee

Date: April 20, 2002
General Education Committee
Barbara Holdrege (Religious Studies)
Esmeralda ‘Yaya’ Rendon (AS Representative)
Katie Wallace (AS Representative)
Larry Gerstein (Mathematics)
Laurie Monahan (History of Art & Architecture)
Nick Tingle (Writing Program)
Omer Blaes (Chemistry)
Paul Spickard (History)
Peter Digeser (Political Science)
Rodger Wood (Computer Science)
Ursula Mahlendorf (Germanic/Slavic/Semitic Studies)
Britt Johnson (L&S Executive Committee)
Jacqueline Hynes (College of Engineering Executive Committee)
Patrick McNulty (Registrar’s Office)

From: Harold Marcuse, GE Committee Chair

Re: GE Committee response to [first] Task Force report and supplements

Based on the discussion at the March 11, 2002 meeting of the General Education Committee, I have drawn up the following response by the GE committee to the GE Task Force report of June 11, 2001, and to some of the feedback about it. Please send me your comments as soon as possible, since this document will become part of the process of putting the revised curriculum before the faculty for approval.

  1. The GE committee endorses the findings of the Task Force regarding the current GE curriculum. Its structure, content and administration are badly in need of overhaul.
  2. We find that the more explicitly methodological descriptions of the areas C through G are more up-to-date and will help to determine which courses will satisfy those areas.
    However, we still see two difficulties: with explicitly interdisciplinary courses, and courses that overlap core areas 3 and 4 (historical studies and social sciences). Regarding the former, it would be expedient to designate a primary area that the course would satisfy. This issue is especially pressing with regard to the general distinction between areas 3 and 4, as the listings in the present GE booklet show. Should it be made explicit that the difference between the latter is between past and present, or qualitative vs. quantitative (or scientific) approaches? Some guidelines here would be beneficial.
  3. A second possibility for explicitly interdisciplinary courses might be to create a new category, with a course numbering scheme similar to the one for the new freshmen GE seminars: GE xx EF, for instance, for courses that could satisfy either area E or F. Again, some explicit guidelines would be helpful.
  4. We would like to see an explicit list of the criteria courses should meet in order to be placed on the new GE list. These might include: having no prerequisites, being open to all non-majors during the first RBT pass, explicitly teaching disciplinary methods as well as content, including instruction on writing and research skills, being offered at least once every year, etc.
  5. We are concerned that one of the pressures leading to the proliferation of courses on the current list has not been addressed by the proposed revisions: the need for students to have some alternative way of fulfilling a requirement if they have taken non-listed courses that clearly address the subject and method requirements of a given area, but for other reasons (as named in no. 4, above) are not on the list.
    We propose that a petition process primarily at the department level be set up, with each student who can demonstrate hardship being allowed one petition. Petitions would be subject to GE administrative approval. We understand that hitherto departments have not been well-informed about the requirements of GE, so that a petition process such as this would have been subject to abuse. Therefore:
  6. We propose that each department name a designated faculty GE liaison as a standing service assignment delineated in its bylaws. All GE liaisons would, when appointed, be briefed by the committee or person administering the GE program. They would be responsible for advising students about the criteria a GE course must meet, and for endorsing student petitions approved by departmental liaisons [later correction as per 9/18/02 report:] to be reviewed by the faculty director of GE.
  7. We find further that in order to maintain the quality of a GE program, an administrative position should in whole or in part be designated to oversee the program. We suggest that information about the duties of GE administrative coordinators on other campuses be obtained for comparative purposes. At UCSB, this person would compile data on the courses students use to fulfill GE requirements, and inform departments of over- or under-capacity in their areas. This data could come both from the registrar, and from the hardships students document on their petitions for substitution to GE.
    The tasks of this position would include:
    1. Ensuring that the courses on the GE list continue to meet the criteria under which they were approved.
    2. Working with departments on the development of new GE courses.
    3. Briefing departmental faculty and staff GE liaisons.
    4. Compiling data on capacity shortfalls or surpluses in various GE categories.

cc: Muriel Zimmerman, GE Task Force Chair

document created 4/20/02; prepared for web by H. Marcuse, Nov. 4, 2003
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