UCSB faculty members held a forum yesterday to discuss the increasingly tenuous position of higher education.

Following the success of last year’s “The Future of the University” series, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center is hosting a new string of lectures on the UC Commission on the Future — which was created to address the University’s financial woes. Yesterday’s discussion detailed the advantages and disadvantages of online college courses, the higher education gap and omnipotent budgetary problems.

Kim McShane-DeBacco, Instructional Development Consultant, said a blend of traditional and online teaching methods are needed in a college learning environment.

“Face to face is where teachers and students can develop empathy and reciprocity, discuss sensitive material and share anecdotes,” McShane-DeBacco said. “In the move to online learning, a new way of being would develop and the teacher could witness their students’ knowledge, learning and being without interference.”

The panel also spoke on the nation’s struggling educational system.

Asian American Studies lecturer Diane Fujino attributed the system’s failures to the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind Act,” that requires states seeking federal funding for schools to routinely assess their students’ skills through standardized exams. Fujino said the policy has made teaching more standardized and mechanical.

“It has become evident in the last 10 years or so that students want to learn in more formulaic ways,” she said. “They want to know what they have to do to get A’s.”

According to the faculty, increased reliance on rote memorization has prevented college students from reading anything outside of their curriculum.

Additionally, Chris Hoeckly, Director of the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont College, said the nation’s education system is in decline.

“You are teaching some of the brightest students in America, but probably, you struggle with how ill equipped they are to address the challenging social and political issues of the 21st century,” he said.

Furthermore, Hoeckley said there is a wide social divide between college graduates and those who haven’t received secondary education.

“If there is something that every UCSB student should know in order to be an educated and enlightened citizen, they should have learnt it in high school,” Hoeckley said. “Otherwise, there is a suggestion of a social division between civically well-equipped college graduates and the civically ill-equipped — those who haven’t been to college.”

The next debate — titled “What is the New Normal in Higher Education?” — will be held on Nov. 8 in the McCune Conference Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Building room 6020.