By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
President Bob Iuliano began Thursday’s meeting by expressing how well Get Acquainted Day went the previous week.
Associate Professor of English Stefanie Sobelle shared that in the fall, faculty will vote on two new study abroad programs.
Sobelle noted that the vote for the curriculum would occur next Thursday, April 27.
Member of the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) and Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Nick Miller brought forth an amendment from the CRC to withdraw the half-credit senior seminar and expand the half-credit sophomore seminar in communities and change it to a full credit course. In expanding this sophomore class, two new learning outcomes were added.
Miller explained that this was in response to feedback that some departments couldn’t teach the courses. He said they hope to revisit the idea of a senior seminar later, but not at the moment anymore.
This comes at the heels of discussion at the last faculty meeting about the staffing and value of the half-credit senior seminar.
Associate Professor of East Asian Studies Eleanor Hogan said, “I really like this [amendment]… [It] gets rid of dangling credits…I think this will work.”
When asked by Associate Professor of Africana Studies Abou Bamba whether the sophomore seminar could reflect on “global issues of the past,” Miller explained that, “Generally speaking [the] focus is on a contemporary issue [but those] typically have a historical background.”
Miller also said that the idea behind the communities and change seminar would be to allow students to think about issues in the contemporary moment and how they can “act and achieve change” on them.
The amendment was put to a vote and passed with 99 votes in favor and 28 votes against it.
Final Curriculum Discussion
The floor opened to discussion of the amended curriculum as a whole for the last time before the vote at the beginning of the next meeting.
Professor of Economics Charles Weise spoke in support of it, and said it has an advantage over the current curriculum because it trims it down seminars and has a theme for them.
Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Austin Stiegemeier asked whether the communities and change seminar could overlap with the perspectives and social change requirements.
Member of the CRC and English Lecturer Melissa Forbes said that the CRC envisioned the communities and change courses to stand alone from the rest of the curriculum, but that they could count for major requirements if a department wanted, as long as they were still entry level courses.
She further explained that the perspectives and social change courses are meant to be more about cultures, identities, and ways of looking at the world, while the communities and change seminars would be about helping students become an “agent of change.”
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Susan Russel said she was concerned about the lack of requirements to study a culture outside of Europe. She also questioned whether a sophomore seminar would lose the “variety” associated with a course with students of all ages, and the ways they can learn from each other’s experiences.
Professor of Psychology and Member of the CRC Kathy Cain said that there’s values in both kinds of courses, noting that there is data that students struggle in their sophomore year and a dedicated seminar for them could help reduce that. She also said that she believes students reflecting and thinking about what they’re learning as a sophomore could help them take advantage of the rest of their college experience.
French Professor and Chair of the Academic Program and Policy Committee (APPC) Florence Jurney. She brought forward minutes from faculty meetings dating as far back as 2003 to address the APPC’s concern about removing the requirement of a capstone in major from the curriculum. The current Gettysburg Curriculum includes a portion that says students must complete a capstone in their major. She read a portion of the curriculum out loud that she believed suggested that in 2003, the faculty voted to include the major capstone as part of the curriculum.
Jurney asked that the CRC codify this practice to ensure consistency, and expressed concern that replacing the current curriculum with this new one would remove that requirement for a capstone seminar.
Associate Professor of Art and Art History Tina Gebhart responded to Jurney, saying that the old language she read seemed to more be raising a capstone within a major to the level of the curriculum, rather than making it part of the curriculum itself.
Jurney disagreed with this and continued to advocate for codification of the major capstone in the curriculum with concerns that it would allow majors to no longer require capstones.
Associate Provost for Academic Assessment, Dean of Natural Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics Darren Glass later explained that he saw the capstone to have no connection to the general education curriculum, and did not perceive that to be part of the curriculum they would be replacing. He noted that he had told the APPC previously they could amend the curriculum to include it, but they never answered that email.
Chairperson and Professor of Anthropology Matthew Amster said that he saw the capstone as elevated to the general education curriculum previously, and that he didn’t know why it wasn’t included in the current proposal or why the CRC was pushing back against this.
Mathematics Professor Ben Kennedy said that a motion could be made to fix this next year if it were ambiguous. He also noted that he was going to vote in favor of the curriculum and was excited for parts of it and would serve on committees he was qualified for.
Chairperson and Professor of Religious Studies Deborah Somner expressed a different concern about the proposed curriculum, asking how much power was being taken from the faculty and directed into Pennsylvania Hall.
Cain later explained that committees governing the two seminars would work like the system for the current first-year seminars does, with faculty, library, and Provost Office representatives.
Associate Professor of Spanish Christopher Oechler asked how many requirements there would be with students taking “twofers” or one class that would count for more than one requirement.
Glass explained that under the current proposal there are 13 requirements, but it could be reduced to ten via “double dipping.”
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Andy Wilson noted at the end of the meeting that there would be an open hours meeting with Mayor Rita Frealing on Thursday, April 27. He said some faculty already planned to attend to discuss the student arrest.
Iuliano said he has had multiple conversations with the mayor already about the situation, and encouraged faculty to attend the open meeting with her to discuss this.