Task Force on General Education
Notes from the Meeting of January 19, 2001
The Chair presented the Task Force with several alternatives for GE Programs. "GE Reform Lite" does not do much besides reforming the Writing Requirement and seeking to introduce courses designed especially for the GE Program.
Idea #1 contains ten courses with four in Area IV, the wildcard category. The goal would be to have new courses developed specifically for the new Program. The issue of having a Western Civilization sequence requirement was raised by Tom Carlson who felt that intercultural contact and exchange canít be understood outside the investigation of Western theories and methods. Students need to investigate the historical conception. Harold Marcuse expressed his belief that an appreciation of Western culture can be reached both through the context of Western Civilization exclusively but also through looking at other cultures in a world systems perspective. It is important to have students study both and the GE course may be the first exposure students have to these sophisticated ways of thinking and not just the narrow Western view. The Chair pointed out that, unfortunately, course content is not the responsibility of the Task Force. It was suggested that like the divisions, definitions of exactly what the courses should teach should be emphasized. It will give better guidance to those who are designing the micro-structure of the course.
Idea #2 consists of a nine-course requirement. One problem is that the divisions are not the way people study and learn. This needs to be simplified and evaluated for clarity as well as linkage. The group is interested in but suspicious of placing courses in such general core categories. There is very little concern about overlap with this program.
The Task Force once again looked at the Program at UC Berkeley. The signature course for this campus could be in Environmental Studies/Science. One concern with having a similar program is that many courses can count in several areas and students donít seem to be getting much depth by taking one course in each particular area. Cross-listings can be confusing for students. Berkeley does not accept any courses that are not taught on the campus as fulfilling the requirements of the program. This is an option to consider.
Regardless of what the new program would look like, there was great interest in developing new courses to fit into the new areas.
The group was also concerned with having an administrative body to articulate and enforce the higher standards of the new GE Program. Having staff dedicated to the GE Program would be able to give the program more power and resources to improve weak courses and eliminate those that are inappropriate.
Ursula Mahlendorf also pointed out that the group needs to consider how distance learning courses and AP exams will fulfill the requirements.