By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
After two academic years of deliberation, the faculty passed the curriculum changes proposed by the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC). This curriculum was reintroduced in fall 2022 after the faculty delayed discussion on it in spring 2022. This curriculum will not be implemented until 2028.
The curriculum only required a simple majority to pass, which it received, with 79 votes in favor and 73 votes against.
At the faculty meeting on April 13, two weeks before the vote, Professor of Physics Kurt Andresen advocated for changing the rules to require a two-thirds majority to pass it, due to concerns about it passing with support from only half the faculty.
Now that it has passed with the narrow margin that Andresen was concerned about, he said, “This was not a good outcome…With only around 70 voting for the new curriculum, many fewer than the majority of faculty have shown their support for it.”
Associate Professor of Africana Studies Abou Bamba also expressed concern about the narrow margin of votes, saying, “About 49 percent of the faculty did not approve the motion for the new curriculum. While the motion passed, this in itself is an important statement highlighting the uneasiness among the faculty as a whole.”
Bamba continued, noting that his concerns center around the lack of a science, technology, and society (STS) requirement (which he advocated for in a failed amendment) and the global diversity requirement.
He said, “I remain convinced that a data course is not a substitute for a robust STS course. As technology (for instance, ChatGPT or deepfakes) and the power of scientific expertise become ever more present in our everyday life, we should be expanding the opportunities for our students to reflect in the liberal arts tradition on the multifaceted issues that STS raises.”
Concerns raised in faculty meetings varied from issues of staffing, faculty course loads, and the merits of a seminar-focused curriculum that would add a seminar in the sophomore year.
Despite these concerns, many faculty members supported the curriculum.
Professor of Economics Charles Wiese said, “I support the new curriculum because it simplifies the current curriculum by getting rid of some requirements and reducing the opportunities for students to use the same course to satisfy multiple requirements, and it is built around high impact seminars in the first and second years. I especially support the idea of a first-year data seminar that gives all students basic skills in analyzing and presenting data. It will be difficult to staff this course right away, but I hope that it eventually becomes a signature experience for students analogous to the current first year seminars.”
Mathematics Professor Ben Kennedy said he was excited about teaching some of the courses in this curriculum.
“In the new curriculum, I especially like the pairing of the two “first-year critical skills” (writing and data & society), and look forward in particular to teaching courses that fulfill the data & society requirement,” he said. “I am intrigued by the potential of the sophomore ‘communities and change’ seminar as well.”
Member of the CRC and Associate Provost for Academic Assessment, Dean of Natural Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics Darren Glass called the passing of the curriculum “a step forward for Gettysburg College students of the future.”
“I am glad that the majority of the faculty agrees with this vision,” Glass said. “The resulting curriculum builds on the many strengths of the current curriculum, with an increased emphasis on some of the skills and content that we believe will be critical to help our students thrive both during their time at Gettysburg and after they graduate…The curriculum will be implemented beginning with the Class of 2028, so there will be much work to do in the coming months to implement these ideas. For right now, however, we are pausing and celebrating the hard work that has been done by so many in our community.”
Though Andresen was critical of the curriculum, he did add that he saw it as a call to action for the president.
“I know this faculty,” he said. “Now that the curriculum is passed, we will all do our best to implement it because we care about our students and about providing them with the best experience we can during their time here. But we cannot do it alone. President Iuliano made clear that this new curriculum was key to his strategic plan. Now that it is passed, I would encourage him to work hard to support the (already exhausted) faculty as we work to build this new curriculum. This means more than a one-time infusion of money and some encouraging words. It means really listening to us and our concerns and ensuring that all employees (not just faculty) receive the support they deserve for the incredibly hard work they have put in in the past few years and that they will now need to put in going forward.”
This new curriculum includes:
- Gettysburg Seminars
- First-Year Seminar
- Communities and Change (sophomore seminar)
- Perspectives and Social Change
- Identities and Cultures
- Race, Power, and Equity
- Non-Native Language (a two-course sequence)
- Modes of Inquiry
- Formal science
- Laboratory-based natural science
- Social science
- First-Year Critical Skills (these can be fulfilled by the first-year seminars)
- First-Year Data and Society
- First-Year Writing
Member of the CRC and Professor of Psychology Kathy Cain shared her perspective on the curriculum, saying that she saw it as a “valuable opportunity for future students.”
Though, she noted, “The close vote reflects the fact that we as a faculty were truly divided about the merits of the proposal. I hope that we can come together as we work to make the new curriculum a reality.”