[FUN_Mail] Questions about breadth of study requirements

Jared Young via FUN_Mail fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
Thu May 7 12:41:31 EDT 2015

Hi Ron,

We are undergoing a similar curricular transformation currently at Mills -
moving from more discipline-based breadth requirements to more skill-based
requirements. As originally conceived, there was nothing that resembled a
"science" requirement, but the faculty the sciences pushed back against
that and got a natural science requirement reinstituted. I personally have
mixed feelings about that - not that I don't think science is important,
but I'm not sure it merits protected status in this new reenvisioning of
the breadth requirement more so than other disciplines.

In any case, I've attached our current language around this requirement. It
is a *natural* science requirement so could not be fulfilled with social
science. The focus is on we obtain the truths we believe about the natural
world. A lab is not required. Although I think pedagogically a lab
requirement makes sense, the College is under considerable financial stress
and that would not be implementable currently.

I'll be curious to see how your requirement transformation progresses.


On Thu, May 7, 2015 at 9:12 AM, Gizerian, Samantha via FUN_Mail <
fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org> wrote:

> Hi Ron,
> At WSU our breadth requirement system is called UCORE.  Under UCORE,
> students are required to take a "BSCI" designated course and a "PSCI"
> designated course, which translates to one Biological Science and one
> Physical Science.  One of these two must have a lab component, or the
> student is required to take a third course (from either list) with a lab.
> BSCI courses include offerings from Animal Science, Biology, Entomology,
> Enviro Sci., Food Science, Horticulture, Molecular Biosciences, Plant
> Pathology, and Soil Sciences.  There are also 2 Anthropology classes and a
> Psychology class with BSCI designations, but each of those are more like
> biology courses (behavioral ecology and biological basis of behavior).
> PSCI Classes include Astronomy, Chemistry, Enviro. Sci, Geology, and
> Physics.
> Social Science courses, including Political Science, Psychology, and
> Sociology have their own UCORE designation, "SSCI".
> Tons of information about the UCORE system can be found here:
> http://ugr.wsu.edu/
> Sam
> _____________________________
> Samantha S Gizerian, PhD
> Clinical Assistant Professor
> Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies
> Dept. of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience
> College of Veterinary Medicine
> Washington State University
> Pullman, WA 99164-7620
> sgizerian at vetmed.wsu.edu
> 509-335-0986
> -----Original Message-----
> From: FUN_Mail [mailto:fun_mail-bounces at lists.funfaculty.org] On Behalf
> Of Ronald J Bayline via FUN_Mail
> Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2015 7:38 AM
> To: fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org
> Subject: [FUN_Mail] Questions about breadth of study requirements
> 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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Jared Young
Associate Professor, Biology
Mills College
Oakland CA 94613
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