Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Curricular Dance

The budget crisis here means we're all competing for students at all levels.  The university is competing, desperate to raise enrollments some.   Departments and Programs are competing for majors and minors, desperate to survive.  Courses are competing for enrollments, both for the instructors' survival and for their program/department.

Part of the competition for courses is to fulfill general ed sorts of requirements, some of which vary by college or department.  Letters requires languages, education requires special stuff, business requires other special stuff.

I'm chairing the curriculum committee of an interdisciplinary program this year, and we're even more desperate than most others, because we don't have a department, the budget is a joke, and we're teaching almost all our courses through the extension arm, but the dean has threatened that we can't do that again.  (The threat has gone out to lots of programs that are teaching through extension this semester.)

 There are two related special requirements in one of the colleges, and some courses fill one, some courses fill both of those requirements.  In our meeting yesterday, we looked at those courses, and looked at what the catalog says, and tried to figure out if some of our courses could also fill one or both of these requirements. 

As chair, it was my job to email the dean to ask about the criteria for courses to fill those requirements, with the goal that we might meet those criteria, and so our courses might fill those requirements, and so a few students from this college might be encouraged to take our courses.

And the dean basically wrote back that they don't really have criteria, they just come to an agreement about courses, and yes, the dean thinks they'd be interested in having more courses fulfill the requirement, and ours might, and I should get hold of a deanling to talk specifics.

Now maybe this means, no problem!  Our courses will fit for sure!  YAY!

Or maybe this means, we have secret criteria which we won't tell, and since we don't have much respect for your program, your courses will never fit, but I'm not going to tell you, and neither will this deanling, but we'll just never quite agree that they fit.

One or the other?

I'm hopeful for the first.  But this dean is, in my experience, pretty much a stickler for rubrics and details and micromanagement, and politics, so it might be the latter.  Or it may be that the dean hasn't had time to get all detail oriented with this particular issue, and so there really aren't good criteria, or maybe they think it's sort of a BS requirement, so they're willing to go with anything that sounds somewhat reasonable to get their students through?

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