During their meeting on March 13, the faculty voted to approve the course package proposed by the Committee on Educational Policy for the 2013-14 academic year. 100 new courses were approved, along with some changes in specific departments.
The art department, music department and Africana studies department each made significant changes to their respective department requirements. Additionally, the faculty engaged in a discussion about changes to the student handbook regarding the taping of classes.
The art department will now require nine courses to complete the art studio and art history majors, down from the 10 courses that were previously required. Honors degrees in those majors will still require 10 courses, and students in the history and practice major will still be required to take 11 courses. The department also proposed that 400- or 500-level courses could fulfill two requirements at once, and that studio majors would only be required to take one art history course. Stefanie Solum, chair of the art department and professor of art history, explained that, “The changes are, quite simply, about making it easier to be an art major. We have many double majors, and many students who study away, and the art faculty acknowledges the scheduling pressures this presents to students. So we reduced the number of courses required, but did so in a way that, we believe, has a minimal impact on the quality of the major.” Another reason for the change outlined in the proposal was to bring the art department’s major requirements more in line with requirements in other departments in the College.
The music department expanded their major requirements to be more flexible, and added the requirement of one course in World Music/Ethnomusicology and two semester-long partial-credit music lessons. Not counting the partial-credit music lessons, the music department will still require 10 courses to fulfill the major. “The proposed changes will allow for considerably more flexibility for our majors,” W. Anthony Sheppard, chair of the music department and professor of music, said. “The new requirements introduce a degree of choice in the selection of required music history courses, allow majors to choose a personal capstone experience rather than being limited to a specific senior seminar, and allow students interested in jazz to replace one of the currently required theory courses with a jazz theory course.”
The Africana studies major has revised its honors thesis requirement to a “dossier model” in which honors candidates, instead of completing both an independent research project and a traditional thesis, will write three linked essays connected by a specific theme. This new thesis model will require that Africana studies honors candidates take a winter study course and “Honors Dossier”, which are both devoted to preparation of the three essays. The students will then present the dossiers at a public defense.
Minor changes were also made to the theater department, the economics department, the mathematics and statistic department and the environmental studies department. Additionally, the option to pursue a thesis was added to the Jewish studies department.
During the faculty meeting, there was also a discussion about the College’s policies on taping classes. The statement handed out during the faculty meeting said “Audio/videotaping of classroom activities may impact the group dynamic within a class, as students may be more reluctant to participate in class discussions or to ask questions if they know they are being recorded. Additionally, recordings (whether by faculty or students) may raise legitimate concerns about privacy.” The proposed addition to the student handbook will forbid the taping of classroom activities without the express permission of the professor, but will still allow for accommodations to be made for students with disabilities who require recordings.