Faculty Meeting News and Notes: March 30, 2023

By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief

Thursday’s faculty meeting began with a vote on a motion to extend the meeting 30 minutes in order to complete votes and discussions on the five amendments on the floor to the proposed curriculum. The motion passed, and thus the unique one hour and thirty minute meeting began.

Flexible Data Amendment

Chairperson and Professor of Chemistry Tim Funk brought forth an amendment at the end of the March 30 meeting that would remove the data requirement in the proposed curriculum from the first-year, allowing students to fulfill it over the course of their college career.

Professor of Psychology and member of the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) Kathy Cain explained her criticism of the amendment, saying, “[I] thought [data] would work like first-year writing…[there’s] a value in students having a set of common experiences in college.” 

She also noted that this structure would be advantageous for students from underrepresented groups, according to the research that she and the CRC did. 

As well, she said that the CRC intended for the requirement to be in the first year so that students would be prepared for upper-level classes that would use data, and that many students come into college with fears of quantitative courses. This would help combat that fear, she said. 

She also noted that Funk’s amendment attempted to address the concerns of students with majors that would require a significant amount of classes in the first year, but that some of the money allotted from the Board of Trustees for the curriculum could go toward majors addressing this themselves.

Chairperson and Professor of Political Science Caroline Hartzell noted that there is increasing evidence that the pandemic hurt student’s empirical skills, and that she was also worried this amendment would cause students to wait until the last minute to take the class. 

The amendment was put to a vote and did not pass. There were 74 votes against it and 53 votes in favor.

Science, Technology, and Society Requirement Amendment

Associate Professor of Africana Studies Abou Bamba put forth an amendment that the data requirement would be replaced with science, technology, and society, a requirement currently in the Gettysburg Curriculum.

Bamba explained that he saw this amendment as addressing the way science is in conversation with society, and some of the staffing concerns as humanities professors might be more able to teach these courses since they already provide them.

He said the motion from the CRC was too tied to one department.

This amendment would place this requirement in the first year, like the data requirement. 

Director of Bands and Professor for the Sunderman Conservatory of Music Russell McCutcheon shared that he teaches a course that only meets the science, technology, and society requirement in the curriculum, and that he is not prepared to teach a course in data science. His current class would have to be rethought or would go away entirely, he said.

Mathematics Professor Ben Kennedy argued against Bamba’s point that the CRC’s proposal targeted only one department. He shared that current statistics courses are taught in seven different departments, and that data is already a broader field than that. 

He said the requirement, “[is] my favorite part of the new curriculum…I will be voting against this amendment.”

Cain spoke again, saying that the CRC envisioned the data course as being taught by multiple departments, and that the original goals of it were to be “foundationally” about society, contradicting Bamba’s earlier point.

The amendment was put to a vote and did not pass. It received 79 votes against it and 54 votes in favor. 

Non-Native Language Requirement Amendment

Professor of Physics Kurt Andresen put forth an amendment to the non-native language requirement. This amendment would allow “F-1 visa holding students whose native language is not English [to be] exempt” from the requirement. This would codify the current procedure. 

Andresen explained that the vision behind the amendment would be to alleviate pressure from students already navigating college in a language different than their own.

He noted that he didn’t include U.S. citizens who are non-native English speakers in the amendment because current procedure doesn’t include them.

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Chair of the Academic Standing Committee (ASC) Susan Russell expressed concern that if this amendment were voted down, policy would go back to what they had prior to the current procedure. French Professor and Chair of the Academic Program and Policy Committee (APPC) Florence Jurney corrected Russell, saying that if this amendment didn’t pass, current procedure would not change. All student’s petitions under this procedure would be granted regardless.

Chairperson and Professor of Religious Studies Deborah Summer pushed back against the amendment saying she was concerned that the ASC would have to find alternative paths for students not on F-1 visas who weren’t native English speakers. She also expressed concerns about issues of racism when there are different rules based on nationality. She said she doesn’t even believe in having a language requirement at all. 

Associate Professor of Biology István Urcuyo supported the amendment but said he had problems with some of the wording because F-1 isn’t the only designation for international students. 

Andresen said he agreed with Urcuyo and would be open to broadening the language.

Another professor noted the importance of codifying this procedure because petitioning for exemption takes “cultural capital” and could affect the level of inclusivity for students since only some would ultimately send in a petition. 

The amendment passed with 70 percent of the voting members in favor.

Interdisciplinary Studies Amendment

Chairperson and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Vernon Cisney brought forth an amendment co-sponsored by Assistant Professor of German Studies Tres Lambert. The amendment would retain one of the two current integrative thinking requirements in the current Gettysburg Curriculum.

This would add one more required course under modes of inquiry. 

Cisney explained that this would help prepare students for integrative thinking expected in the senior seminar, as well as expand the scope of a student’s education. 

Lambert noted that reducing the requirement to one from the current curriculum would make it easier for students to align the course with their interests, rather than “shoehorning” two courses in. He also noted ways he hoped to redefine some of the courses. 

Associate Professor of Anthropology Amy Evrard said that the APPC has had “fraught” discussions over what counts as IDS, and that it’s difficult to define. She expressed that students already approach interdisciplinary courses themselves in their academics due to the nature of a liberal arts college.

“We have led them to water and they will drink or not drink,” she said. “We don’t have to force them.”

Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Austin Stiegemeier shared that the amendment would allow him to construct courses in arts and technology, and be more inclusive to the arts.

Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Ian Isherwood was also in favor of the amendment. He responded to Evrard and said that if there’s an issue defining IDS courses, that could be worked on with the department, and was excited by Lambert’s interest in redefining the courses under it.

Isherwood also noted that many of the courses he teaches work toward this requirement because his scholarly work is interdisciplinary in nature. His most popular courses meet this requirement.

Professor of Environmental Studies Randy Wilson said he was in favor of the amendment, adding, “Who cares if it’s old or new, what matters is if it works” regarding whether or not it was part of the current curriculum.

Cain noted that this amendment would raise the amount of courses in the proposed curriculum to 13. 

The amendment ultimately did not pass, receiving 67 votes in favor and 57 votes against it.

APPC Amendment

Lastly, Jurney brought forth an amendment from the APPC cleaning up the language in the proposed curriculum that would remove mentions of the APPC where they did not have the purview to check whether courses fulfill each requirement. Instead, they added that the registrar or academic department would fill this role. 

This amendment will be discussed at the next faculty meeting.

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Author: Katie Oglesby

Katie Oglesby ‘23 serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the Gettysburgian. She has previously served as Magazine Editor, News Editor, Assistant News Editor, and Staff Writer. She is an English with a writing concentration and political science major, hailing from San Diego, California, but now living in rural North Carolina. On campus, Katie works at the CUB information desk, is an Eisenhower Institute Fielding Fellow, and serves as co-service vice president for the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. She spent a semester abroad in Bath, England studying British literature and politics, and spent this past summer interning with the Winston-Salem Journal in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She can usually be found perusing books in the Musselman Library browsing room.

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