Imagine the Core is a blog run by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego. It is a forum for faculty to share ideas about revising the Core Curriculum. Feel free to browse and to comment, and to take part in this important discussion.

Above you will find a menu. For research suggestions, see the Bibliography page. For updates on the process itself, including documents, calendars, and committee and forum reports, see The Design Process. For information and discussion on the Core Proposal, see that page. For results of the surveys and faculty feedback, see Feedback and Surveys (your MySanDiego password is required to view this page). To see what ideas faculty are putting forward, and to take part in the online discussion, see the New Ideas page.

To add a comment, simply hit the reply button to one of the existing posts. If you would like to add a post of your own, email Abe Stoll at astoll@sandiego.edu to request that you be added as an author – it’s easy. All posts go to the New Ideas page.

12 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. The core is tremendously important, the the committee has already worked long and hard on issues relating to the core. I write this as someone who will be unaffected by the eventual outcome of these deliberations, since I will probably be retired by the time it is fully implemented. Moreover, I write this as someone deeply sympathetic to the vision of the committee. Many years ago, I helped to introduce cluster preceptorials, courses in which five disciplines participated around a common theme, and was a principal author in the successful NEH grant to fund the development of such courses—funding that included reassigned time for the additional research and coordination in developing such courses. I was also intimately involved in the development of team-taught interdisciplinary values courses, again a project for which we received an NEH grant, that involved two instructors for each course. Around the same time, I was the founding director of the Honors Program and made team-taught interdisciplinary core courses an essential part of the structure of the Honors Program, an element that remains today. I personally regularly taught in these various team-taught, interdisciplinary venues and consistently learned a lot from my colleagues and from my students.
    In all these cases, I viewed such work as important to two audiences: the students, who can benefit tremendously from exposure to vibrant interdisciplinary teaching, and the faculty themselves, for whom these became important faculty development opportunities. They contributed to a vibrant intellectual life in the college, offering a rare opportunity to have semester-long, structured conversations with colleagues on a set of topics of mutual interest. So my heart is with the vision articulated by the committee.
    That said, I’d like to lay out the logic of the decisions facing the Academic Assembly, for perhaps one of the difficulties at this point is a confusion about the sequence of decisions.
    The first decision is obvious: should we revise the core at all? There are several possible arguments that could support an affirmative answer. First, we may be losing students because of our core requirements. It is important to note that this is an empirical question, and one that has two parts. First, what kind of data do we have about students not wanting to come to USD because of the present GE structure or leaving USD for other universities because of the GE program? Is the data anecdotal or do we have a fairly detailed data set to analyze in this regard? Second, if there are some students who are not getting (or losing), are these students we want? This, again, is largely an empirical issue, but it also depends on which students we want, what characteristics we are looking for. That element is not just empirical, but a question about what our ideal student profile is.
    Second, if we decide that we want to revise the core because it has too many requirements, then we are at another functor in the decision tree: how do we want to distribute the reduction in the number of required units? If that is our only motivating concern, then presumably we would want to distribute the reduction in a way that recognizes our overall academic goals for our students, our institutional mission, and the impact (both positive and negative) on the affected departments. Considerations such as the impact on tenure-track positions and the like seem reasonably to be part of the larger picture.
    If, on the other hand, we decide to rethink the entire GE structure (either because our overall concern is that the present structure is inadequate or outmoded or simply because the allure of the blue sky is irresistible), then the situation becomes so open that it is pointless to try to map out the decision tree. However, let me suggest several points in this regard that should be considered in this process.
    First, a radical restructuring of the core in a way that involves more interaction among faculty and disciplines and a more immersive experience for students can be a tremendously important stimulus to the intellectual and collegial life of the college, one from which all of us—students and faculty alike—can benefit.
    Second, a radical restructuring involves a lot of time and a lot of money (which pays for time). Before the College commits itself to a new plan, we must ask where both the time and the money will come from. All too often, it comes from the faculty—and, within the faculty, all too often the most energetic and committed of the younger faculty. To teach a new class well involves a great commitment of time for preparation; to be deeply involved in an interdisciplinary project takes all that time and much more This is, in my opinion, time well spent—but it is time out of the lives of individuals, whether it be drawn from their professional lives or their personal lives. Going down this path may mean that there is less time for one’s research, perhaps less time for one’s family and other relationships. Since I won’t be affected by these decisions, I am not going to argue for one side of this option or the other; but it is important to realize that, when we make a college decision about these matters, we are making a decision not only for ourselves but also for our colleagues.
    If it’s not already evident, I do have a position here, and it’s this: if we are going to do this, we need to do it right, and that will require a lot of support and money. Let me make a modest suggestion. Secure outside funding, set up a model college within CAS based on the proposed model(s), and see how it works. Then, on the basis of the results, refine the experiment and, if appropriate, implement it (or a modified version of it) for the College as a whole.

  2. In your upcoming study, are you planning to include American Sign Language into the curriculum in view of recent legislation that will require a bachelor’s degree for ASL intepreters? Thanks you in advance for any information on this subject.

  3. Merely need to state your article is as exceptional. The clearness in your article happens to be simply impressive and i have the ability to assume you’re a professional on this subject. Effectively with your authorization allow me to to get your RSS feed to maintain to date by having forthcoming article. Thanks a thousand and gratify proceed the enjoyable work.

  4. I really like your writing style, fantastic info, appreciate it for posting :D. “Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” by Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky.

  5. I am a sophomore and have been thinking a lot about the core. As a member of Be Blue Go Green, I have noticed that it can be especially hard for us to get our message out and get students excited about being sustainable when they just aren’t aware of how their actions are affecting the environment. I think there should be a sustainability requirement in the core curriculum. This would put USD on a new tier and contribute to the student’s ability to become a changemaker. Sustainability is the present and the future. The requirement could be fulfilled in a sustainability class or it could also be incorporated in different fields of study like a “D” or “W” class. Feel free to contact me. Thank you.

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