Friday, December 20, 2013

Thank you so much Harriet for providing all of us this opportunity to discuss the core proposal.

One of the issues that I'm concerned about is the interaction between the LLC program, the preceptorial program and the new core. 

I think it would be very useful to hear from current precptors about their experiences in the LLC program, what is working, what isn't working, what might improve the program.  I think it would be also useful to hear how faculty feel about the changes proposed.

Please note, it is possible to comment on this (or any post ) on this blog anonymously.

Jane Friedman

Monday, December 16, 2013

Core Revision Proposal: Discuss!

Here is the Core Curriculum Planning Committee's notice to USD faculty, with links to reports for discussion! Anyone can comment below. If you'd like me to put you on as a contributor, so that you can initiate discussions, please email me, I've asked Kristen Moran, Chair of the CPC who sent this notice, to send a further notice to faculty to make them aware of their forum for discussion and encourage participation.

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we present to you the Core Planning Committee’s recommendation for the new core curriculum at the University of San Diego. Please click on the following links to access the reports: Summary Core Proposal.pdf , Academic Integration Report.pdf, Breadth Committee Report.pdf , Catholic Intellectual Tradition Report.pdf, and Core Competencies Report.pdf. In addition, you may review the report from the Task Force on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Core from Fall 2012 (Task Force Report.pdf).

Over the past three years, faculty from undergraduate programs across the units have worked diligently to research various structures of core curricula at many universities. Keeping in mind the mission of USD and our commitment to the liberal arts, faculty weighed options for the best core curriculum for USD students.

The proposed core model is a product of much deliberation, taking into account many possible variations as well as intended and unintended consequences of various scenarios. The majority of faculty on the CPC agree that this proposed model is the best approach for USD students at this time. It offers significant changes, but is conscientious of the traditions of USD.

The new core curriculum presents exciting opportunities for students and faculty. Students will be empowered to make choices that fit within their interests, but are also guided to ensure exposure to the foundational knowledge that is key to a liberal arts education. Students will have opportunities to integrate and synthesize core knowledge and experiences in ways that will deepen their learning. The smaller core will allow students to choose more electives, alleviating the pressure to make sure everything “counts.”

Faculty will have more opportunities to offer courses in the new core by changing the breadth categories to “modes of inquiry” and by identifying competencies that are already present in many courses. Further, the new core will allow faculty to connect with others through the integration seminar. There will be support for faculty as they engage with the new core.

We firmly believe that the new core curriculum will enrich the undergraduate experience at USD.

During the next few months faculty will have many opportunities to offer feedback to CPC representatives regarding the recommendations. The proposal will be formally reviewed by the appropriate governance bodies including curriculum committees in each unit, faculty bodies in each unit and the University Senate before being forwarded to the Board of Trustees and the President.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Welcome to the Alcalá Country Club!

A growing number of colleges are choosing to fingerprint new employee hires, including faculty members. But what about being fingerprinted every day, to make sure professors are on the job? That could be the new reality for faculty members in the City Colleges of Chicago system, and they are speaking out against the possibility. 

Everyone is whining because higher education has become so expensive. So the idea is to cut the waste, that is humanities disciplines, and to supervise faculty so that we meet standards imposed by accrediting agencies and teach to tests. It's industrialized education, imposing factory discipline on faculty. Here's the brave, new world: instead of humanizing factory work, we've industrialized faculty work.

The idea that productivity should be maximized is unquestioned and the assumption is that to achieve it you have to put everybody on the assembly line and run a university like a business. So we got into "accountability" and, endless, endless "assessment." And, given the business model, students were the customers so the university had to offer products that would attract them and keep them. We went into debt expanding the Student Union to add game rooms, restaurants, and other entertainments. and having gone into business USD has to behave like a business and invest even more in goods to please the customers.

So there's a vicious cycle of spending more and more, and being less and less able to afford to support faculty research or other items that don't go toward pleasing the customers. Is this the future? To please the customers you set up in the resort business. Instead of going to classes, students will do classes online. Imagine a student sipping a margarita on the beach, doing a course on their laptop.

Should students have a good time at college? Of course they should. They should party, as students have always done, drink themselves silly and hook-up: no time is better for sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll than when you're young, and can experiment in a relatively safe environment. 

But we faculty should have fun too. That's why we got into this business, isn't it?: because we were willing to take on risk and sacrifice virtually everything, including money, the choice of where to live, and years of our lives living in student poverty, for job satisfaction: for the chance to do research in the areas that interested us. And if we have fun, students might get the idea that in addition traditional undergraduate entertainments, intellectual activity is also fun.

It isn't faculty salaries or the time we "waste" on research in humanities disciplines that have cranked up tuition. It's the implementation of the "business model" that was supposed to make colleges cheaper and more efficient, and reduce faculty to service workers--surveilled and supervised by an growing cadre of administrators--and the expenditure on non-academic student services and infrastructure aimed at attracting, pleasing and retaining customers.