The main intent of this proposal is to offer some possible courses that will strengthen our students’ critical thinking skills gained through the study of the various modes of inquiry that are characteristic of the natural sciences, social sciences as well as, and humanities. Most of the courses, or course series, allow students to gain a greater understanding of the interrelations between disciplines, show how many disciplines share similar methods of critical analysis or compare these methods, and present a more complex view of the interrelations between various parts of our natural, social, and cultural world. These revisions also attempt to introduce students to a wide range of content related to the natural, social, and cultural character of the western and non-western world.
This proposal does not posit how many
total GERs there should be nor how many should be delegated to each division
(of disciplines). Instead, this proposal leaves this decision, as well as any
decision on foreign language requirements, etc. up to the CRC. The proposal
does hold that these areas of study should be included in the GERs: Critical
Thinking and Writing, Humanities, Non-Western Thought and Culture, Natural
Science, Social Science, Health, Fine Arts. Also included in this proposal is a
Foreign Language GER and a GER in Mathematical-Analytical skills. This last
requirement however would include courses in formal logic or statistical
methods. This change acknowledges that similar analytical skills gained via the
study of mathematics can be obtained through the study of the formal structure
of arguments and/or the systematic use of mathematical and logical reasoning
employed in statistical methodologies.
One possible advantage of the courses offered below is that it allows for more “double dipping” of GERs so that one course may receive more than one GER. It also posits that any course could have a specific focus on critical thinking and writing and thus could fulfill that GER, so long as such a designation is approved by the Curriculum Committee. Some may argue that such “double dipping” may not reduce the overall amount of GERs and might be confusing and difficult to operationalize. Perhaps this is true, such interdisciplinary study demands proper accreditation.
The courses listed below could be one or two terms (semesters) long, depending on the amount of material covered. One faculty member may teach some of these courses although most may need two (or more?) instructors from various disciplines. Courses sizes would be based on 1 faculty/ 15-20 students ratio.
There can be a great deal of experimentation with these courses, some of which has already been done here at Furman and elsewhere. Such experimentation, however, must receive a great deal of support from the university and individual departments. Summer funding could be earmarked to allow faculty to develop these courses, including refresher courses on grammar and composition for any faculty seeking to gain the Critical Thinking and Writing GER for their course. In addition, a faculty member’s work in preparing these courses should be given special recognition by their departments and the Status Committee.
Possible Courses or Course Series and the possible GERs they
The Trivium: Studies in Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric: This course would return to the study of the fundamentals disciplines of the liberal arts. The course may focus on a variety of texts or issues such as diversity, cosmopolitanism, or the freshman reading book.
(1-2 Courses: Possible GERs: Critical Think/Write, Humanities, Math/Analy)
The Western Tradition: Survey of the major developments in the
cultural history of the west. May include discussions of literature, history,
philosophy, religion, rhetoric, and the fine arts.
(2 courses: Possible GERs: Humanities, Fine Arts).
Cultural Studies: 2 courses that focus on the methods of inquiry
employed in many humanities disciplines: 1. semiotics, narrative theory,
ideology theory, psychoanalysis, deconstruction;
2. cultural studies, new historicism, feminism and queer theory, orientalism and neo-colonial studies. Course could cover a range of literature, film, and other (popular) texts.
(2 courses: Possible GERs: Humanities, Non-Western)
The Cultures of the World: A course that moves beyond the Western World to discuss world histories and cultures. This course could compare the west and non-west or focus solely on the non-western world. (2 courses: Possible GERs: Hum, Social Science or Fine Arts, Non-Western)
The Natural and Social World: Innovative course that take up themes
addressed in works like Guns, Germs, and Steel that look at the natural world’s
effect on the social world.
(1-2 courses: Possible GERs: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and/or Humanities)
Modes of Communication, Modes of Understanding: This course would concentrate on how the various mediums of communication (oral, written, print, digital, etc.) shape our understanding of the world, the subject, the text, etc. (1 course: Possible GERs: Humanities, Critical Think/Write)
The Science of Art and the Art of Science: This course would
explore how developments in science and/or mathematics have affected painting,
architecture, music, etc., and conversely how artistic and cultural
developments have spurred innovations in the sciences.
(1 course: Possible GERs: Natural Sciences, Fine Arts)
From the Atom to the Universe: A course that presents the study of the natural sciences from the smallest to the largest constructs of the natural world. (2 courses: Possible GERs- Natural Sciences)
The Environment: This course could focus on how the natural
sciences understand the environment, compare literary and scientific
representations of the environment, or with the addition of a public policy
component, introduce issues related to the social sciences.
(1-2 courses: Possible GERs: Natural Sciences, Humanities or Social Sciences).
Individual and World Health: A course that focuses on the body,
health, the environment and national and international issues and policies
related to health.
(1-2 courses: Possible GERs; Health, Natural or Social Sciences, Non-Western)
The Challenge of Genetics and Cognitive Studies: A variation of
the “nature-nurture” debate, this course could address new
developments in the study of genetics and cognition and their challenge to how
the humanities and the
social sciences traditionally view such issues as sex and sexuality, thinking
and language use, and behavior and socialization.
(1-2 courses: Possible GERs: Natural Sciences, Humanities and/or Social Sciences)
Intercultural Discourses and Practices: This course offers a
comparative study of the communicative and social practices of various western
and non-western societies. Possible areas of focus are variations in oral and
written communication texts, gender communication, private (familial) and
public (political, social, religious) discourses, rituals, and celebrations.
(1-2 courses: Possible GERs: Humanities, Social Sciences)
From the Individual to Society: This course takes students through how various disciplines understand relationships between the individual, groups, and society. Theories and concepts such as the individual, subjectivity, race, class, gender, etc., from both the social sciences and humanities can be addressed. (One course: Possible GERs: Social Sciences, Humanities)
Globalization: A course that focuses on global economic, political, social, and cultural issues such as economic trade and development, immigration and population, human rights and women’s issues, global terrorism and cultural imperialism, etc. (One course: GERs: Social Sciences, Non-Western study)
Posted by love at
September 17, 2004 12:27 PM
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