[FUN_Mail] Questions about breadth of study requirements

Robert Madden via FUN_Mail fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
Thu May 7 11:38:53 EDT 2015

Hi Ron,

I switched institutions a number of years ago.  At my former institution,
we required two laboratory science courses, which I personally thought was
entirely appropriate.  I really think students have a far richer experience
when they get their hands wet in the lab.  At my present institution, we
require two non-lab courses.

At both institutions, we considered the social sciences to be a separate
category, also required.  Despite the use of scientific methodology, the
nature of the subject matter seemed different enough to  us to warrant a
separate requirement.

I really don't see that a student who took one sociology course, as would
seem possible under what is being proposed at your institution, would have
an adequate exposure to the sciences



On Thu, May 7, 2015 at 10:38 AM, Ronald J Bayline via FUN_Mail <
fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org> wrote:

> My college (Washington & Jefferson) is undergoing a significant curricular
> revision at the moment.  One of the issues we are tackling is a
> redefinition of our breadth of study categories.  The goal of this change
> is to make the breadth of study less tied to specific programs (ie, natural
> science, social science, humanities, arts) and more tied to conceptual
> frameworks (e.g. artistic, behavioral, historical, literary, logical,
> scientific).  Right now, we are wrestling with what counts in different
> categories, mostly the "scientific" category.  Our approved language states
> the following:
> "These courses teach students to investigate the natural world and the
> means by which scientific principles are assembled, using the tools of
> observation, experimentation, theoretical inquiry, modeling, and data
> collection and analysis."
> Students will be required to complete one course in each of the 6 breadth
> areas, and then 3 additional breadth courses for a total of 9 breadth of
> study courses.  The primary questions that we are addressing are the
> following:
> 1:  Should this requirement contain a lab- or field-based component?  How
> much time would be required for students to spend in labs for this
> requirement
> --our current curriculum requires students to complete two "natural
> sciences and mathematics" courses, one with a lab.  The new requirement
> will mean that many students will only complete one "scientific" course
> 2:  What areas should be included in the "scientific" category?  Do we
> include traditional "social science" areas of psychology, sociology,
> economics, etc, since they use the scientific method?
> --we do have the "behavioral" category as well which may cover many
> traditional social science areas
> My question to my colleagues is this:
> How do you treat breadth of study in your institutions?  Do you require
> laboratory courses for your breadth of study?  Do you make distinctions
> between natural sciences and social sciences?  If so, how do you make the
> distinction?
> Thank you for your input.
> Ron Bayline
> *****************************************
> Ronald J. Bayline
> Associate Professor and Chair, Biology Department
> Highmark Professor in the Life Sciences
> Washington and Jefferson College
> 60 South Lincoln Street
> Washington, PA 15301
> ph: (724) 250-3406
> fx:  (724) 228-3802
> email:  rjbayline at washjeff.edu<mailto:rjbayline at washjeff.edu>
> *****************************************
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Robert C. Madden, Ph.D.
Department of Natural Sciences
Fordham University
113 W 60th Street
New York, NY  10023
romadden at fordham.edu

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