September 20, 2004

Curricular points and changes (#22)

In regard to the Curriculum Review, I wish to make points and propose two changes:

1. I believe that with one major exception the existing curriculum (and
calendar) serves our needs very well and that the Furman faculty is doing
an excellent job in providing liberal education to our students. I favor
staying with a 4 credit hour course base, daily class meetings, and a (no
more than) 20 hour per year (five course) faculty teaching load. I think
that the current GER structure is adequate and appropriate.

2. The exception: I believe that the major flaw in the combination of
curriculum and calendar introduced in 1968 is that the winter term is too
long. Specifically, two months is a long-enough period that faculty have
been able to compress (cram?) standard courses into it.

3. A proposal: I favor shifting to a term structure that would have a
13-week term beginning mid-August (close to the time that the public
school year begins) and ending before Christmas, a 13-week term beginning
in January and ending in late-March, and a 4- (or 5-) week term beginning
early April and ending in early May. Faculty should teach two or three
courses during each of the 13-week terms and one course every other year
in the May term. Students would take eight courses per year with three or
four courses in each 13-week term, and optionally one course during the
May term. The one-month period of the May term should be short enough
that standard courses cannot be crammed into it; faculty would have to
meet the original intent of the 1968 curriculum to devise "strange and
wonderful" course offerings for the May term. Short study abroad courses
could be offered in the May term, and longer study abroad programs could
be offered in both of the 13-week terms. Senior and other spring-term
issues about being away on study abroad programs during the spring term
just before graduation would become obsolete. Graduation could occur
around the middle of May to allow our students to hit the summer job
market in competition with state university students.

4. Another proposal: I favor eliminating (or at least discouraging) the
possiblity of double majoring but offering the student the possibility of
an optional minor that would show on the student's transcript. I am not a
fan of double majoring because I believe that concentrading virtually all
of the student's non-GER courses in two major areas subverts the intent of
a liberal education. I believe that if we were to enable minors, the
student-felt compulsion (often encouraged by parents) to complete two
majors would be relieved, thus serving the intent of liberal education by
enabling the student to take a wider range of elective courses.

Posted by love at September 20, 2004 07:08 PM
Discuss this proposal in the forum, or leave a comment below!

Comments

If Furman continues to increasingly value the scholarly research of faculty conducted in collaboration with students, then time must be created during the academic year to allow faculty to supervise such research. For me, the most restrictive constraint on maintaining a continuous research program throughout the year is meeting class every day. I see this restriction as a primary impediment to fulfilling the notion of providing an engaged learning experience for all students. In addition, the idea of RAISING teaching loads is anathema to me... even adding a course every other year in the May-mester represents another responsibility that will reduce my capacity to provide students with the enegaged learning experiences they have been promised. We already have more contact hrs. per course than comparable universities (56 per term vs. 48 (3 hrs/week x 16 weeks)), while teaching the same (or more) courses. To me, adding more courses, and teaching every day per week, will only inhibit our ability to provide personalized experiences for our students.

Posted by: Wade Worthen at September 23, 2004 08:58 AM