GEC Meeting

Monday, February 6, 2006

3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
325 Graff Main Hall




Members Present:  Steve McDougal, Sandy Grunwald, Brian Udermann, Becky Belter, Soojin Ritterling, Devyne Strand, Bruce Riley, Chris Prucha.

Excused:  Bob Ragan, John Fields

Consultants:  Chris Bakkum, Keith Beyer


 I .  Approval of Minutes January 30, 2006 M/S/P unanimous.


II.   Announcements – None today.

Chair welcomed Becky Belter (Communication Studies) who will be filling in for Eric Kraemer who is on sabbatical.


III.  Discussion/Action Items  

A.  Design Team Recommendations or alternatives

1.   Additional Feedback: Members returned with additional feedback solicited from departments and general population of UW-L.  Math department overall indicated that they are opposed to too much structure in foundational requirements.  90 percent of math students already enroll in and complete math in their first two years.  Secondary education math major is very structured and will also be impacted by an overly structured set of requirements.  Math department is also implementing a new policy that requires students to complete the math they have tested into in their first two years.  If students do not complete this requirement, the placement is obsolete and they have to re-test.  This may take care of math as a foundational course without obligating GEC to include it in UF I.  Overall feedback has been to be careful with structure.


2.   Content 

§         University Foundations I – Chair distributed a handout with an alternative proposal for core curriculum.  Included a series of interdisciplinary courses as a means to achieve a core curriculum, and would amend the total core credits to 36.  Chair indicated knowing of faculty who would be very excited to collaborate on interdisciplinary courses, and suggested this alternative as a way to help students see the inter-connectedness of core knowledge.  This would eliminate the concept of disciplinary silos in which we seem to be mired.  This plan would simply re-allocate existing resources instead of requiring additional.  

        Q:  Why haven’t interested faculty come forward proposing interdisciplinary courses?

        A:  They have known that GE is potentially going to recommend a new structure, thus are waiting to see where it goes.

        Q:  Logistics of workload?  How would credit allocation work with multiple instructors?  Does the current infrastructure facilitate this?

        A:  All logistics would be sorted as the program developed.  Perhaps faculty could get a .25 time release their first semester teaching these courses.  All faculty and departments would still be used, just in different ways.  One example from Portland State is that faculty across disciplines develop and interdisciplinary course together, and each faculty member in that team teaches one or two sections of that interdisciplinary course. Learning communities could also be implemented within this core program.

        Q: What kind of reception do you anticipate from faculty?

        A:  Definitely some resistance; change is hard in higher education, mostly based on resources.


§         Chair further discussed benefits of synthesizing knowledge and specific majors who would do well professionally because of it (i.e. education).  This would also free up resources and credits for colleges to determine additional core or other credits.  Focus on core knowledge would increase.

§         Alternative to suggestions would be piloting a smaller version of a learning community or interdisciplinary program in order to begin to move in that direction.  A “faculty college” could be implemented in summers to help prepare faculty to teach interdisciplinary courses.  Learning outcomes would remain at the core of this endeavor.

§         Feedback from committee members:  Faculty may not even know where to begin with something so vastly different than they have been doing.  Training would be necessary.  Even a pilot program would create immense work for the Records and registration department to come up with a new SNAP for the students in the pilot.  The concept of an interdisciplinary core curriculum is great, but the realities of UW-L have to be considered: politics, faculty apathy, resources.  Possibly courses within the core could try interdisciplinary components as kind of a half-step toward the vision of an interdisciplinary core curriculum.  Evolution might then be possible as opposed to a sudden vast change. 


§         Given that a motion has been passed at the last meeting to set up University Foundations I, GEC should move in that direction with current courses as they exist.  


§         M/S:  UF I will include an Oral Communication Course, a Math Course, and a Health and Well-Being course (10-11 credits).  These credits would have to be completed in the first 60 credits (as passed in UF I motion 1/30).  Motion amended to add that a diversity component be present somewhere within the freshman core and UF I.


§         Discussion:  It’s important to indicate that this is a minimum requirement, and student can complete other core courses within their first two years as they are able.  More can be taken, but this three-course requirement accommodates more structured majors.  Diversity identified as an imperative component early in education and to be infused throughout curriculum.  Recognizing that a diversity class will still be taken as part of core based on UW system requirements, committee discussed creating a requirement that a diversity component be present within structure already created.  This can be implemented through the First Year Experience course or elsewhere, but must be present. Some members expressed concerns that an oral communication course should take place in the first year:  Some suggested that CST 110 could become freshmen experience courses and therefore be taken in the first year.


Motion passed unanimously as stated above.

The Chair will write to and/or meet with members of the English and Communication Studies departments  to be sure they are thoroughly informed of the direction GEC is going..  Chair will also invite faculty from these departments to a meeting with GEC. .


A suggestion was also made to figure out ways to use consistent terminology in discussing the core curriculum.  For example, should University Foundations I, II, and III be used or other terminology. Requirements in the third tier (UF II) should not be thought of as “leftovers” but integral to the University Core that can be completed at any time.   


Chair suggested asking Deans to indicate what courses they would require of students in the first year.  Responses could drive the direction of future discussions of core requirements.  Members felt that the Deans and faculty within a college may not easily come to agreement on what that first year core course should be.


§         University Foundations II – Chair asked GEC members to continue to consider requirements and solicit feedback as this solidifies.  Suggestion that further research or focus groups be part of next phase of planning; members preferred further discussion and decision-making at the committee level before seeking campus feedback.   

§         Seminar UWL 300 – not considered at this point in time.


VII.  Other – Other issues to consider include and to bring back for discussion at 2/20/06 meeting include:

§         potentially decreasing the number of credits within the core curriculum.  If this happens, what gets eliminated? 

§         Should GEC move toward recommending all programs become writing in the major—what are the implications of this?

§         Whether to promote a requirement for 300/400 level courses within the core curriculum. 

§         Role of interdisciplinary courses, interdisciplinary components within courses, or whether to pilots interdisciplinary courses or freshmen seminar courses that are  interdisciplinary..



 Adjourned 5:35.