The Academic Senate is considering revising the university’s general education requirements, which would narrow choices in some areas but allow students to take more electives.
The senate held an open forum Tuesday to discuss recommendations for GE’s, such as eliminating three courses in Areas C, D and E, as well as a western civilization course, while including more ethnicity requirements. The GE Task Force, an advisory committee of representatives from the three undergraduate colleges at UCSB, students and experts from UCLA, has also considered eliminating GE requirements that would apply to a student’s specific major.
“We felt the General Education requirements had really gotten out of hand because they were lacking definition with the large number of courses that can be used to fulfill it,” Academic Senate Chair Richard Watts said.
Only a small percentage of the 1,200 GE courses offered are taken by non-majors.
“We want students educated broadly. We don’t like a humanities major that knows nothing about science,” GE Task Force chair Muriel Zimmerman said.
The Task Force decided to indefinitely postpone voting on the final changes, originally scheduled for Nov. 8, because changes could not meet the deadline for the 2002 Catalog. Official revisions should take effect by 2003.
The GE Task Force first met on Nov. 5, 1999 to review the current GE requirements, compare them with those of other universities and recommend revisions. Currently, the task force is disagreeing over the western civilization requirement. According to the task force proposal, a majority of the committee wants to eliminate specified “western” and “non-western” requirements because the terms are opposite and overshadow a more global approach.
Some in the committee would like one “western civilization” class to be included, because they say basic western thought can lead to the understanding of globalization.
The GE writing requirement is also under revision. Although it is extensive, the task force believes it is not being honored.
“We want to ensure that when a student takes a writing course, they actually do the writing required,” Zimmerman said. “A course might be proposed in 1997, but since then the professor left and it may not even include a writing assignment now.”
Although students in the College of Engineering have different GE requirements, the general concept the task force is proposing will also apply to engineering students, engineering professor and task force member Walter Yuen said.
“The current GE requirements are not effective for students or faculty,” Yuen said. “Compared to the current system, the process of students satisfying the GE requirements needs to be simplified. Right now the GE is like a game the students need to figure out.”
Faculty from the colleges of Letters and Science as well as Education and Engineering also recommended the addition of more freshmen seminars. Five seminars were available last year, and 10 are offered this year, providing the opportunity for 180 out of 3,600 freshmen. The addition of the seminars will increase funds needed to employ faculty.
The Academic Senate said it is accepting and encouraging written comments and suggestions from students.