Plans to change UCSB general education requirements for students within the College of Letters and Science have been delayed until 2003, after more than a year of discussion.
The Academic Senate postponed voting on changes in the GE requirements until March 7, 2003. The General Education Task Force endorsed a plan in early May, after 18 months of reviewing the current requirements, which was to be considered Nov. 8. Writing Program Chair Muriel Zimmerman said the vote was delayed because the G.E. Task Force felt it did not receive enough input from the university’s departments.
“The changes that we’re going to make are very minor ones, but there should be wide consultation,” she said. “We felt that there was not enough major feedback from committees. It can’t be something one committee buys into. It has to be something everyone has to do.”
Proposed changes include the elimination of three classes, one each in Areas C, D, and E. The new program would also encourage students to take G.E. classes outside their major, since the Task Force found that only a small percentage of G.E. classes are taken by non-majors.
“Our strong belief is that students should be broadly educated,” Zimmerman said. “So far, I’ve heard from a dozen individual faculty members with excellent ideas. We just think it’s a good, stronger plan.”
The general education requirements have not been changed in approximately 10 years. According to a General Education Task Force recommendation report released June 11, “Many of the problems we identify have come from the proliferation of courses and absence of an effective governance structure. We continue to believe that the G.E. program is a valuable common intellectual experience of all UCSB students, whatever their major [is].”
Once implemented, the changes will affect students who earn Bachelor of Arts degrees within the College of Letters and Science only. The number of courses students are mandated to take will not be increased or decreased, but the number of classes students have to choose from will be expanded. All changes in the G.E. requirements would be phased into the system and would not inhibit students from graduating.
Between now and 2003, various committees will meet to discuss what they would like to see changed in the upcoming years. The task force will continue to review the current requirements and recommend suggestions for future changes. They receive input from the Academic Senate, administrative offices, student organizations and departments from the colleges.
Academic Senate Vice-Chair Walter Yuen said G.E. classes should be a good learning experience instead of a burden.
“I think the G.E. requirements right now put a tremendous amount of stress on the students to just shop through [the G.E. catalog],” he said. “We want to make the G.E. classes a little more structured and coherent.”
History of Art and Architecture Chair Ann Bermingham, who also serves on the G.E. Task Force, supports the proposed changes in the G.E. requirements.
“We hope,” she said, “that people will think of new courses that may be more innovative and interdisciplinary – especially in the Arts Dept. – that will excite and interest students to take classes in the arts.
The Academic Senate does not anticipate any funding problems due to the changes.