Academic Senate
Santa Barbara Division

General Education Workgroup
Minutes of the Meeting of April 25, 2003

Members Present: M. Higa (AS Rep.), C. Lawson (AS President), H. Marcuse (Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Policy), C. Michel (Co-Chair, GE Workgroup; Vice Chair, Undergraduate Council), J. Proctor (Undergraduate Council), A. Wyner (Dean, Undergraduate Studies, L&S)

Others Present: D. Blake (Analyst, Undergraduate Council), D. Segura (Chair, Undergraduate Council)

GE Workgroup Co-Chair Harold Marcuse distributed his interim report for review. Workgroup Co-Chair Claudine Michel distributed a summary list of options regarding possible curricular changes to the GE Program.

Preference for option #7 was expressed by AS President Chrystine Lawson, based on perceptions drawn from discussions with a cross section of students. This option includes revision of Area E such that it would no longer require a concentration in Western civilization, but would require two courses focused on different geographical areas and one course comparing two geographical areas. The title would be changed to something like Area Studies or Culture and Thought. Option #7 also includes the newly proposed Area X, which would combine both a focus on interdisciplinary studies and ethnicity/gender/queer studies. The current ethnicity requirement would be unchanged.

A significant problem associated with this option is that faculty are not likely to teach enough of the courses that would be required to keep it viable. It was noted that subdivisions in core areas were discontinued in the past due to complexity and the scarcity of courses to satisfy the demand in some subdivisions. While there is no hard data to verify this, it was presumed that these factors made it harder for students to graduate within normative time, and some students had to remain at UCSB for an extended time in order to fulfill GE requirements.

Following Ms. Michelís summary of the various other options, a preference was voiced for two historical studies courses in Area E-1 pertaining to any two areas of the world. Concern was expressed that if we eliminate the Western focus from this core area, it would not be appropriate to continue the use of the term non-Western culture. It was admitted that removal of the specific requirement of Western civilization will arouse significant controversy among a small group of strongly supportive faculty and possibly of students as well.

It was suggested that we could divide Area E by geographical regions or even divide it using the current Western/non-Western approach. However, if we donít require students to fulfill subcategories, students could take all Western oriented courses and graduate without any study of the rest of the world. There was also a suggestion that we combine area and cultural studies or heritages, using a title such as Historical and Cultural Studies.

It was reiterated that if we introduce a requirement in interdisciplinary studies, it should not be as a core area, but as a supplemental requirement. It was noted that truly interdisciplinary courses tend not to be 50-50 with respect to the disciplines they explore. Itís more common for them to be more centered in one discipline and bring in a focus on another. The group was reminded that the current structure for courses that fulfill supplemental requirements allows students to choose between courses that are included in core areas and those on the special subject area lists. It was proposed that there be a list of interdisciplinary courses that arenít part of the core. The problem would be to maintain an adequate number of courses on the list initially and on a continual basis. With a few exceptions, most interdisciplinary science courses are upper division.

The number of courses available is a function of how rigid a definition is used for qualification as an interdisciplinary course. Some majors, programs, and departments are, by certain definitions, interdisciplinary. It was suggested that a subcommittee go through the catalog and determine how our current courses would fit various definitions, and through this process, refine our definition.

There was discussion of option #3, which offers the same structure for Area E that is defined in option 7. It includes a special requirement in gender/queer studies as well as one in interdisciplinary studies. Concern was expressed as to "how much controversy we can put in the package and still sell it."

Two subcommittees were formed, one to research availability of courses and the potential impact of adding an interdisciplinary (INT) requirement or core area, and the other to do the same with regard to ethnicity/gender/queer studies (EGQ). Denise Segura and Jim Proctor will work on INT, and Claudine Michel and Chrystine Lawson will work on EGQ. We must recognize that it boils down to what faculty are willing to offer. Subcommittee members were advised to refer to the schedule of classes and note rooms in which classes are held to estimate potential enrollments.

There was discussion of the current Area D. It was suggested that possibly up to half of our students satisfy part of this requirement in high school. It is often fulfilled by taking two history courses. Almost all of the sociology courses on the GE list are for majors only. Students who donít major in sociology often take no sociology courses at UCSB.

Harold briefly reviewed his interim report. The workgroup was asked to read it before the next meeting and send comments.

The group was reminded that we need to include on a future agenda a discussion of non-BA students in the context of the options weíve been discussing. The workgroup members not in attendance will be emailed an invitation to participate in the work of the subcommittees.

Attest: Harold Marcuse


prepared for web by H. Marcuse on Oct. 22, 2003
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