From: Otto Santa Ana and M. Gregory Kendrick, Foundations of Society and Culture Workgroup
1. The process the workgroup used to review courses;
2. The criteria used to evaluate proposals and determine their appropriateness for this foundational area;
3. Issues and questions that emerged from the review process;
Otto Santa Ana, Chair
Ceasar Chavez Center for Chicana/o Studies—FEC
M. Gregory Kendrick
General Education Program
History—UgC/GE Governance Committee
University Student Association Council
Graduate Student Association
University Student Association Council
Germanic Languages/Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies
History/Asian American Studies
Sociology/African American Studies
The workgroup charged with the review and certification of course proposals for the Foundations of Society and Culture area of the College’s new general education curriculum held three two-hour meetings on March 8, April 5, and April 19, 2002. At the first of these meetings, the workgroup addressed the question of how to vett the proposals that departments were putting forward for Society and Culture GE credit. The process the group adopted was as follows:
· Establishing Criteria: Eight sample course proposals were selected by the workgroup’s chair and resource person and forwarded to every member of the group for review and reflection. This sample was representative of the courses submitted for inclusion in the Society and Culture area and included proposals from History, the Social Sciences, Interdepartmental Studies Programs, and departments in the Humanities. At the second meeting of the group on April 5, these proposals were discussed and a set of normative criteria (see below) was established that all courses were expected to meet for inclusion as a 5-unit GE course in the Foundations of Society and Culture.
· Review Process: Prior to the second meeting, the workgroup was divided up by the chair into five teams, each with three members. Each team was broadly representative of the different disciplines in the Social Sciences and also included a representative from both the Academic Senate and the different interdepartmental studies programs on campus. At the end of the second meeting on April 5, these teams were assigned an equal number of randomly distributed course proposals and were given a two-week period to review them. The five teams were:
Ø Group I: Otto Santa Ana (Chicana/o Studies-FEC); Mark Sawyer (Political Science); Steve Reise (Psychology)
Ø Group II: Henry Yu (History/Asian American Studies); Jeanne Arnold (Anthropology/FEC); David Chung (USAC)
Ø Group III: James Schultz (German/LGBTS); Scott Bartchy (History/UgC); Lynn Itagaki (English/GSA)
Ø Group IV: Michael Curry (Geography); Bryan Ellickson (Economics/FEC); Teofilo Ruiz (History)
Ø Group V: Darnell Hunt (Sociology/African American Studies); Robert Frank (History/UgC); Cindy Mosqueda (USAC)
· Final Disposition of Course Proposals: At the final meeting of the workgroup on April 19, each team presented its lists of courses that were approved either for all or part of the requested GE credit in Society and Culture. In addition to these approved courses, the different teams also submitted lists of courses whose requests for credit in Society and Culture were not approved, and their rationale for these non-approvals. A number of proposals with problems that the teams were unable to resolve were brought to the workgroup-as-a-whole for discussion and resolution.
83 courses were approved for GE credit in the Foundations of Society and Culture. These included 55 courses in historical analysis, 18 in social analysis, and 10 that could be counted in either historical or social analysis. The list of courses is appended.
Society and Culture Workgroup Evaluation Criteria
At its second meeting on April 5, the workgroup engaged in an extensive and lively discussion with regard to the fundamental characteristics of a general education course in the Foundations of Society and Culture. The group reached a general consensus on the following points:
· General Aims of a Society and Culture Course: For a course to receive general education credit in this area, it has to adhere in a substantial way to the general language adopted by the Academic Senate for courses in the Foundations of Society and Culture. That language states:
Foundations of Society and Culture (3 courses, 15 units)
The aim of courses in this area is to introduce students to the ways in which humans organize, structure, rationalize, and govern their diverse societies and cultures over time. These courses focus on a particular historical question, societal problem, or topic of political and economic concern in an effort to demonstrate to students how issues are objectified for study, how data is collected and analyzed and how new understandings of social phenomena are achieved and evaluation.
Consequently, a GE course in Society and Culture should introduce students to
Ø The ways in which humans organize, structure, rationalize, and govern their societies over time;
Ø Some of the principal issues and challenges societies confront in their efforts to establish governments, regulate social relations, satisfy economic needs, and record their histories; and
Ø The theories, methodologies, and “ways of knowing” that social scientists and historians employ in their efforts to analyze and arrive at new understandings of human societies and their historical development.
· Transfoundational Courses: Courses in other foundation areas of knowledge are often concerned with many of the same questions, issues, and problems that engage social scientists and historians. For these courses to receive GE credit in the Foundations of Society and Culture, however, their syllabi must clearly demonstrate that the focus of the course is
Ø To analyze a society’s historical development and/or its political, social, cultural, and economic arrangements; and
Ø To introduce students to some of the principal theoretical approaches and methods of history and the social sciences.
· Skills vs. Content: Courses that address in a general way issues of historical and social import, but whose primary purpose is to develop student “skills” in a particular area (e.g. language acquisition or quantitative reasoning), or a greater appreciation of the arts and humanities, do not satisfy these criteria and would not receive GE credit in the Foundations of Society and Culture.
· General Education Principles: Courses submitted for GE credit in the Foundations of Society and Culture should satisfy at least two of the College’s general education principles. These principles should be clearly delineated in either the syllabus or in a separate statement that addresses how the course advances the aims of general education in the College. . In light of the foundational focus of the new general education curriculum, these courses should also aim to provide students with a broad introduction to a discipline’s central concerns and principle ways of creating and evaluating knowledge.
· Upper Division Courses: With rare exceptions, GE courses in the Foundations of Society and Culture should be lower division offerings. Where an upper division course is submitted for GE credit, it cannot be limited to majors or require a number of pre-requisites.
· Reuniting: In addition to information about student in-class time, the syllabus of a course submitted for 5 units of GE credit in the Foundations of Society and Culture should provide evidence of the following:
Ø The kinds and amount of reading that students are expected to do in the course of a quarter.
Ø The nature and length of a course’s required writing assignments (e.g. a 5-7 page critical essay; a 2-page book review; etc.)
Ø Descriptions of any library and/or literacy assignments and exercises.
Two issues were of particular concern to the workgroup. These were:
· Diversity: One of the general education principles that the GE Governance Committee urged the faculty to keep in mind when re-evaluating old GE courses and conceptualizing new ones was “cultural diversity.” Specifically, the Governance Committee called for
“General education courses that contextualize issues of race, ethnicity, gender and multicultural interactions worldwide. Such courses should provide a diversity of cultural perspectives with the aim of enhancing understanding and tolerance of difference while illuminating the values, ideas, and goals that individuals and groups hold in common.”
Many of the courses that were submitted for inclusion in the Society and Culture area indicated that one of their key aims was to introduce students to questions and concerns of cultural diversity. In general, the workgroup agreed that a sensitivity to difference was evident in most of the courses that claimed to address cultural diversity issues. An introductory history of India, for example, or a Classics course addressing in some detail the treatment of women, homosexuals, and slaves in the ancient world certainly introduces students to a diversity of cultural perspectives and they also enhance one’s understanding of difference.
In contrast, some faculty and both of the workgroup’s undergraduate student representatives also noted that in many of the courses that marked off cultural diversity, issues of difference were usually not a central concern of the course (e.g. a course on the history of India will consider inter-communal relations, but it also addresses a great many other subjects as well.) This group pointed to the 18 May 1993 Academic Senate Resolution, which determined “that all undergraduates study multicultural interactions, and develop the ability to analyze complex, multicultural issues from different perspectives.” The resolution goes on to call for support for development of new courses and “the revision of existing courses” to achieve this end. In this light, traditional surveys or other diversity sensitizing courses were held to require revision, or at least to not fulfill the GE diversity principle. This group felt that appropriate discussion of diversity requires focused lectures, readings, and discussion about specific groups (e.g. race, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religion) that generate “interaction, ” which this group took to mean competition, subordination and resistance. They also noted that a cultural diversity GE course should get students to engage these categories by situating them within specific social and historical contexts. On the basis of these criteria, this group found that very few of the submitted syllabi adequately addressed the cultural diversity GE principle.
Ultimately, this difference of opinion within the group regarding both the meaning and applicability of cultural diversity to different kinds of GE courses was not resolved.
· Interdisciplinary vs. Disciplinary in GE: Though GE courses do not have to be interdisciplinary, many members of the workgroup felt strongly that courses in the Foundations of Society and Culture should introduce students to as wide a range of disciplinary perspectives as possible. The proponents of this position also felt that for an introductory course in a particular discipline to be given GE credit it should have to demonstrate the ways in which students would be introduced to the widest possible breadth of knowledge about a given subject. Other members of the workgroup were of the opinion that on the grounds of both academic freedom, and the criteria stipulated in the Senate description of the Foundations of Society and Culture, courses with a more traditional disciplinary focus had to be accepted for GE credit in this area.
In the end, this issue was not resolved by the workgroup.