Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Survey of Core Curricula at Catholic Universities

Here is a link to the full report described below:

This survey is meant to be a basic reference. We have not captured all of the details of each core, and encourage you to use the included links to explore further. Our hope is that these examples can suggest some of the options availabe to USD, as it seeks to design a Catholic-inflected core curriculum.
  • Unless otherwise noted these are 3-unit, semester courses.
  • For consistency, with each curriculum we count the maximum number of
    language courses.
  • Many core requirements can be double counted, like USD’s D courses. These are
    identified with an asterisk, and for consistency they are not counted in the total
    core size tally.
  • Some schools have slightly different core requirements for business or
    engineering schools. Reported here are requirements for colleges of liberal arts.
  • All information is taken from university websites. 

  • “Distribution by category”: a standard distribution structure, but not by department. In some places the categories are the familiar units, “social science,” “humanities,” etc. and in other places they are thematic, such as “Critical Thinking” or “Engaging the World”
  • “Required Core Course”: a course with a relatively universal syllabus, required for all students, such as Columbia’s well known Literature Humanities course.
  • “LLC”: Living Learning Community, such as USD is currently developing
  • See the Core Action Plan glossary for further descriptions of types of core

    Compiled by Abe Stoll and Lance Nelson

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hypothetical Carrots and Sticks

So we had a discussion Core Curriculum Revision and were given two reasons why we should adopt the "model" promoted the the Bosses.

There were the carrots. Even though the proposed revision would force us to revise our courses according to the dictates of the Bosses, increase our workload and impose additional committee work on us we would be compensated, we were told. But how? And how much? That, we were told, was a matter of a matter for the Implementation Stage of the program--for the future. And, we were told that in any case, if we didn't bite on the carrot, we would get whapped by the Stick.

The Stick was WASC, holding the threat of disaccreditation. Having done some research (something that will be severely curtailed if the Core Curriculum proposal is adopted) I discovered that since 1996 WASC has only disaccredited 4 academic institutions, all of which were fly-by-night enterprises that were zapped for financial and administrative irregularities. Since, pace Hume, I believe in induction I suggested that it was highly unlikely that WASC would pull our accreditation because we would not comply with their curricular recommendations. Core Commissar Carole Houston however claimed that WASC was changing its ways and was now scruitinzing academics. Mebbe. But, I still wonder whether WASC would be likely to disacredit a college like USD.

Houston however pulled out the Good Cop/Bad Cop card. WASC would protect us from the Obama administration's push for more affordable, more vocation education. If we complied with WASC recommendations we would be protected. But really? As far as affordability goes, the carrots which we are promised will only crank up expenses. And in any case it isn't the traditional liberal arts education that colleges like USD offer that has driven up the cost of higher education: it is soaring administrative salaries (see the link from my Trouble in Paradise site here  for figures) and the multiplication of adminisratorinos and deanlets that has driven up costs as well as the restaurants, glitz, fancy furniture and entertainments aimed at pleasing our student-customers.

So once again, colleagues, I urge you to resist both the carrot and the stick and to JUST SAY NO to Core Curriculum revision. It is Pareto anti-optimal. It is highly unlikely that it will benefit students in any way, and it is certain to make most faculty worse off, by increasing our work load, undermining our autonomy, and diminishing time and resources for research and professional development.