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Critical Perspectives


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  1. Procedures for submitting a course to GEOC for designation as a Critical Perspective
       Sample proposals and format:
  2. Assessment of General Education Courses
  3. Implementation Plan
       Calculation of Assessment Schedule 
  4. History and Creation of the General Education Committee
  5. General Guidelines for Critical Perspectives Designation
     

Welcome to the Critical Perspectives website. Information about the current All College Critical Perspectives requirement can be found here. A list of members on the General Education Oversight Committee can be found here. The standard charge to GEOC can be found here under section 5B, number 16 (General Education Oversight Committee).

1) Procedures for submitting a course to GEOC for designation as a Critical Perspective

The proposal should contain two “paragraphs”, loosely defined.  The first paragraph is the current catalog description copied verbatim as passed by the faculty.  If the course is still pending, use the description submitted to COI for approval.

The second paragraph is the rationale describing how your course meets the goals and learning outcomes for the particular critical perspective.  You might talk briefly in general terms about your course goals, but then it is most helpful to have a list of readings, a tentative syllabus, or other evidence indicating how well your class will match the goals of that critical perspective. 

GEOC meets on the first Wednesday of each block.  Proposals should be submitted by the first Monday to be included on the agenda.  Simultaneously, send the proposal to the most relevant divisional executive committee (the natural sciences division reviews all requests for Scientific Investigations).  Generally the divisional committees meet during the first week and have the right (not the obligation) to send their comments on course proposals to GEOC.

If a course is approved by GEOC, it is placed on the COI agenda for the meeting on the second Wednesday of each block.  If COI concurs with GEOC, then the course is placed in the faculty consent agenda for a final vote at the faculty meeting at the end of that block.  The Registrar then takes the faculty meeting minutes and updates the catalog and on-line course system to show the course fulfills a general education requirement.

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Sample Proposals and Format:

a. RE243 Islam in the Americas (Global Cultures)

Course Description: Examines the historical role that varieties of Islam have played in North America as well as in the Caribbean and South America. Topics include: the trans-Atlantic slave trade that brought West African Muslims to North and South America; slave religion in the antebellum South; the complicated role that Islam has played in African-American identity and that race and religion have played in White (Euro-American) conceptions of Islam in the U.S. and abroad; Black Nationalist critiques of Christianity; and issues of race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and religion affecting immigrant Muslim communities in the U.S. since 1965,  1 unit – Wright.

Rationale: The "G" designation is appropriate for RE 243 "Islam in the Americas" because the course looks outside the borders of the U.S. to the modern history of West Africa, South and Latin America, and to the Near East in the Euro-American imagination of the American nation from the 18th century to the present. Since Muslim immigrants have come from all corners of the globe since 1965, the course also engages the ways in which global cultures are transplanted to the U.S. (and transformed in the process).

The SI designation is appropriate because social inequality is addressed throughout the course. The course description references both the phenomenon of Black Nationalism (which is intimately interrelated with issues of social and economic class) and socio-economic class as it affects immigrant Muslim communities in the US since 1965. In the latter case, we see stark disparities among Muslims in the U.S. who are “indigenous” (largely African American, often urban poor) and immigrants who tend to be highly educated, highly privileged both socially and economically (favored by the Federal immigration laws).

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b. FG206 Topics in Feminist & Gender Studies: Critical Race Feminism (Global Cultures & Social Inequality)

Course Description: Critical Race Feminism (CRF) originates from Critical Race Theory, which interrogates and attempts to transform the relationship between race and power by examining the role of race and racism within the foundations of modern culture, as far back as the principles of Enlightenment thought that form the basis for many modern views of equality and law. CRF builds on Critical Race Theory by examining how the historical experiences and contemporary realities of women of color are significantly impacted by racism and sexism. Along these lines, CRF scholars, such as Lani Guinier, Patricia Williams, Angela Harris, and Anita Hill, work to ensure that the perspectives of women of color on race, power, law, and politics in the United States become a visible platform from which to affect change.

In this course, students will explore the major themes in CRF writing, which include life in the workplace, parenting, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and other criminal justice issues. Additionally, we will acknowledge the ways in which CRF extends beyond national borders, examining global issues, such as female genital cutting, the rights of Muslim women, immigration, multiculturalism, and global capitalism, among others. We will also critically assess the applicability of CRF or lack thereof, particularly in light of its criticisms.  Lewis

Rationale: Critical Race Feminism (CRF) is interdisciplinary in that it draws from various fields of study, including legal studies, psychology, sociology, education, and political science, among others. CRF challenges the invisibility of women of color in laws that are deemed neutral and resists the idea that the law is fair and balanced. While critical legal scholars successfully critiqued the power structures at play in the legal system, CRF scholars recognized that a critique of oppressive structures was not adequate unless the intersectionality of inequality (complicated by race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, nationality, etc.) was addressed. Similarly, CRF scholars critiqued feminist legal theory for not considering the emancipation of all marginalized women, for not examining the deficits within liberal legalism, and for not moving beyond a postmodern paradigm that fails to address the myriad interstices that impact the lives of all subjugated women. In response to these critiques, CRF scholar Adrien Katherine Wing introduced the “multiplicative identity” concept, which suggests that when multiplied, the identities of women of color transform into “a holistic One.” A cornerstone theory regarding identity formation, this concept acknowledges that the experiences of women of color are specific to each individual.

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c. FR159 French Civilization (West in Time)

Course Description: This course will explore the historical and cultural development of the French hexagon from the Frank’s efforts to repel the Muslim invaders and unite the disparate tribes of France (and much of Europe) under their rule, to modern conflicts between the descendants of North African immigrants and members of the ultra-nationalistic Front National. The goal of this course is not only to understand the history and culture of a long-time American ally and major world power, but also to appreciate the complexities of any national identity (or identities) and the importance of narrative in its formation.

The course will be organized chronologically, with Block A covering the period from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution of 1789, and Block B looking at France from Napoleon to the present day. Students will do close readings of literary texts, write critical and creative essays, participate in class discussions, and give group presentations to the class.

Through a study of historical events and documents we will consider the role of race, religion, and gender in the development and the metamorphosis of a narrative of French national identity—that is, how the French have come to see themselves. We will explore the “story” the French have told and continue to tell in order to express the feelings, desires, and anxieties of a people and a time. Thus, we will examine significant examples of French literature (in English translation), as well as selections from the visual arts, architecture, music, and films. Students will explore the many ways these works both reflected and contributed to the notion of “France.”

Rationale: This course will accomplish all four of the criteria for a West in Time designation.

  • It will engage students in an exploration of France’s past through the examination of ideas (presented in literary and historical texts read,) events (such as the French Revolution,) cultural institutions and practices.
  • It will help students expand their understanding of narratives of the Western tradition with an explicit focus on the narratives that have shaped the French national identity (see course description.)
  • It will engage students in critical analysis of the connections between the past and the present, for example in discussions of the fears of Muslim invaders during the Middle Ages and the anti-immigrant sentiments some French people display today.
  • It will encourage students to consider how our understanding of contemporary events is informed by our grasp of the historical past in many ways, not the least of which is a creative essay explaining to a young French person what it means to be French and why.
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d. Ecosystems of the Pyrenees (Scientific Investigations)

Course Description: This course, taught largely in Spanish, will use extensive field trips to explore the extraordinarily diverse ecosystems of the Pyrenees region and to analyze how two thousand years of intensive human use have affected the landscape.  We will integrate an overview of the human history and culture of the region with changes in land use that have shaped the landscape in the past and present.  Throughout the course we will review and build Spanish language skills, including vocabulary, grammar and overall abilities to listen, read, discuss, and write.  Prerequisites: a) completion of Spanish 201 or equivalent and b) COI by application.

For about ten days of the course, scientists from the Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE, Institute of Pirenean Ecology) and the University of Zaragoza at Huesca will accompany us on field trips to help students understand the human and non-human factors that control the landscapes and ecosystems of the area.  This group of four PhD’s participated for twelve years in generally similar course for European students.  The extraordinarily diverse climates within a few hours of our base will allow us to study deciduous forests, coniferous forests, semi-desert, alpine tundra, and diverse shrublands.  Some of these ecosystems are experiencing rapid change due to the loss of transhumance in the last half century.   The strong effects on the landscape of past and present humans will provide students a sharp contrast to the much less impacted ecosystems of western North America.

Rationale: The course will meet at least two of the criteria for N courses:

  1. The course will enhance scientific literacy of students by

    • a) Demonstrating how a variety of environmental factors such as precipitation, temperature, aspect, and rock / soil type affect the plants and animals that exist at a wide variety of sites in the Pyrenees and nearby areas
    • b) Providing experiences where students can understand the strong impact that humans have had on these landscapes, which people have impacted for about two thousand years.
     
  2. We will explicitly address the nature of the scientific method by reading primary literature and discussing how scientists formulate research questions and gather data to address them.

We request NSEC approval for L credit based on our 12 days in the field, more than many campus-based field courses that receive L credit.  We will start in the Moncayo region where dry mountains with diverse aspects, varying elevations, and sharply contrasting bedrock types provide an easier introduction to the non-human factors affecting ecosystems.  In the Bardenas de Reales region we will examine how heavy grazing can lead to desertification.  Studies in the shrublands of the Pyrenean foothills will demonstrate how loss of traditional grazing leads to shrub invasion of formerly open pastures; this threatens sensitive species that require open habitats and also changes the appearance of a landscape that many people find attractive.  We will compare land use and landscapes in two adjacent mountain valleys, one strongly affected and one unaffected by ski area development.  At all locations we will provide some natural history and historical background for students and then, progressively through the course, ask them to “read” the landscape on their own to infer the factors that control the plants and animals present.  Discussion of both secondary and primary literature before and after visits will lead to discussions on how scientists pose questions and collect data to understand controls on and changes in landscapes.  By the end we expect to ask students to pose their own questions and data collection to address those questions.

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2) Assessment of General Education Courses

Summary: In response to the Higher Learning Commission mandate to work on assessment, the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC), with the support and assistance of faculty teaching, and with Institutional Research has developed learning outcomes, direct measurement procedures, and rubrics for the assessment of the Critical Perspectives General Education program.  At Colorado College, we offer many classes to fulfill these requirements.  For example, the college has approved about thirty-five courses to fulfill West-in-Time, including courses taught in History, Philosophy, Religion, Music, Art History, Classics, Math, Physics, English, Drama, and General Studies.  Nearly ninety courses meet the Scientific Investigation requirement, and over two-hundred courses meet the Global Cultures requirement.  This document presents the results of three years of effort by the faculty to develop an assessment plan relevant to all these designated courses. 

The Process: GEOC built on the current statement of Critical Perspectives goals.  These Critical Perspectives include West-in-Time, Global Cultures, and Scientific Investigation of the Natural World (copied below in section 1a).  We ask students to understand how they are situated in time by studying the Western world through time, and in space, by looking at the diversity of cultures across the globe now and in the past.  Students also study to understand the world outside the human in the third perspective.  Within this framework, the committee drafted a series of learning outcomes associated with each of the three goals.  Faculty teaching the critical perspectives reviewed these objectives.  Faculty teaching scientific investigations offered small revisions.  Faculty teaching West-in-Time courses moved from feeling that courses across disciplines could not possibly be seeking the same outcomes, to an agreed upon set of outcomes, skillfully drafted and revised by Dennis McEnnerney, which GEOC accepted (gratefully).  The breadth of the Global Cultures category (all that is not West) complicated the discussion.  The committee asked about fifty faculty teaching these courses for assistance.  They settled on two fundamental statements that reflected the breadth of what faculty teach.  Throughout this process, the committee compiled responses, revised draft statements, and continued to seek input until participants achieved consensus.  This document presents the results of this three-year process.  Learning Outcomes are found in section 1b; the assessment plan in section 2, and rubrics in Appendix 1.

Introduction:  The General Education Oversight Committee moved from learning outcomes to direct measures of assessment.  The committee considered an array of options.  At one extreme, the faculty who teach General Education courses could develop a pre-test to be administered to all incoming first-year students and then administer a second test to seniors to determine whether they learned what we claimed they would learn (e.g. faculty develop a variation on the concept of a knowledge survey).  At the other extreme, the college could choose not to develop over-arching measures, but ask individual faculty to create their own direct measures, find someone to review the student learning, and send a report to GEOC.  In the end, the Committee decided to work with faculty to develop college-wide outcomes and rubrics, and ask faculty teaching General Education courses to designate an aspect of their current courses for evaluation and to pair with other faculty to discuss how well the students meet the goals.

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3) Implementation Plan

Note: this plan was developed when it still required Diverse Cultures and Critiques, and will be modified slightly to accommodate the new requirements for Global Cultures and Social Inequality.

GEOC considered several proposals from faculty concerning the best way to carry out the assessment of General Education Critical Perspectives courses.  Some faculty suggested a plan comparable to the Writing Program in which a group of faculty volunteers would be asked to rate all the various pieces of work collected for assessment during the week or so after graduation.  Others suggested that faculty could seek student volunteers to read the work in areas of their expertise.  From these suggestions, the committee selected the following as the best approach. 

GEOC will assign faculty “partners” each year to exchange and discuss students’ work.  These partners will meet in a collegial environment to discuss what they learned about how well each other’s class is meeting General Education goals.  Finally, they will send a brief report to GEOC.  GEOC will compile these responses and prepare a report to the faculty each year on how well the courses as a whole are meeting the General Education requirement and make recommendations for areas of improvement as necessary. 

Rather than having all critical perspective faculty involved in the assessment process in any given year and rather than reviewing every critical perspectives course for every learning outcome each year, GEOC will select approximately one-third of the faculty teaching courses in each of the three critical perspectives in any one year.  GEOC might be guided in this choice by reviewing one particular learning outcome in each year.  For instance, if GEOC wished to determine how well our courses in international topics for Global Cultures are meeting goals, then the subset would come from among the international courses that are approved for Global Cultures (DCC) credit.  Or if GEOC wished to know more about how well Scientific Investigations of the Natural world (SI) courses are meeting the particular bullet on “the use of quantitative reasoning” (note that SI courses need only meet two of the above five bullets so not all courses address all bullets), GEOC would select from faculty teaching the subset of SI courses with the quantitative reasoning component. 

Faculty from classes that are being assessed, select an appropriate project for that assessment.  As noted above, faculty teaching West-in-Time (WIT) have suggested to GEOC that they prefer asking students to write a one or two page essay late in the block (but during the block) intended as a response to a particular learning outcome.  Faculty teaching Global Cultures have indicated they may wish to use such an essay question or may feel that a particular class assignment, unrelated to assessment per se, may equally serve as a valuable assessment tool and may substitute for the one or two page assigned for assessment purposes. SI faculty also wish to select a class project that best responds to the outcome and illustrates how well their students are meeting that particular outcome.  The person reviewing the material is not grading the project, but looking for information on how well the student has met the learning outcome (see rubrics).  We anticipate that this review might take several hours but would not be comparable to grading these essays as part of the class. 

GEOC proposes to assign courses in such a way that on average, a faculty member would be asked to participate in this assessment every three years (obviously some flexibility is needed, particularly if someone teaches more than one type of critical perspective).  GEOC would not ask a faculty member for an assessment of all sections of a course they teach.  GEOC will attempt to assign partners from different departments to provide added perspective on our curriculum.

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Calculation of Assessment Schedules:

Overarching Principles: GEOC will try not to involve one faculty member in the assessment process more than every three years.  In seven years, GEOC will write a report on what we have learned from the assessment process for our next re-accreditation.  We generally will not assess courses taught by visitors.

Scientific Investigation: There are about 45-50 faculty teaching SI courses each year, most teach more than one such course each year.  We also agreed to select about two of the five science bullets each year to review, so the actual review may be smaller than the number derived here, depending on how many courses incorporate each bullet.  The Registrar will reconstruct that information from the faculty meeting minutes.  So, GEOC will assess courses taught by no more than 15 (-17) science faculty next year, the next 15 (-17) after that, and the last 15 (-17) in year three.  We almost certainly will assess two sections of one course this way (e.g. Chemistry 107, Math 126,..), but will avoid calling on individual faculty more than every three years.

West in Time: We offer about 30-35 sections each year, many in FYE (which is also being assessed, so some care is needed in selecting those courses).  There are about thirty regular faculty teaching west-in-time courses over all.  So we would assess courses taught by ten of the faculty in year one, a second group of ten in year 2 and the third group of ten in year 3.

Diverse Cultures and Critiques: This is complicated by having two distinct areas (global cultures and social inequalities) and a learning outcome for each one- and GEOC will only choose one of the learning outcomes each year. NOTE: effective Fall 2013, the college has dropped diverse cultures and crituqes for global cultures and social inequalities, but we will continue to assess one of each annually.  The college generally offers about 110 of these courses per year; about 45 are related to global cultures; and about 65 are related to social inequality.   In years 1, 3, and 5 we will assess one of these two outcomes; in years 2, 4, 6 we will assess the other.  Of the first set of courses (outcome 2), a number are taught by the same people, and about 30 faculty teach regularly.  So we would plan to assess 10 courses taught by one faculty in year 1, 10 more in year 3, and the last 10 in year 5.  We also have more than one course fulfilling outcome 1taught annually by some faculty, and there are about 30-35 faculty teaching these courses each year, so we would assess courses taught by 10-12 of these faculty in year 2, 10-12 more in year 4, and 10-12 more in year 6.  The result of this is that DCC faculty will likely be involved in assessment once every six years, while those in other areas may be once every three years.

Summary:

  SI fac WIT fac DCC fac #students [20/class] #reports to GEOC
Year 1 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 2 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 3 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 4 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 5 15 10 10 (m) 700 35
Year 6 15 10 12 (i) 740 37
Year 7 compile summary report for next reaccreditation while continuing to tweak and run the program

We should be able to assess the work of more than one-third of our student body each year, though students who take more than one of these courses may find themselves assessed several times during their college years, while asking faculty to participate in this work once every three years.

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4) History and Creation of the General Education Committee

CREATION OF THE GENERAL EDUCATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

The General Education Oversight Committee was created by a vote of the faculty as part of the adoption of the new (2005) all-college requirements for graduation.  The duties of this committee appear in several different places that are consolidated below.  Presumably, the committee should exist for as long as the requirements exist.  The three points that follow present the original charges as passed by the faculty, a summary of these charges, and the current agenda.  Appendix 1 contains the new requirements as passed by the faculty; Appendix 2 has the same requirements with rationale provided in the proposal to the faculty; Appendix 3 has discussion that occurred at the final reading of these requirements.  Appendix 4 lists the guidelines created by the first General Education Oversight Committee (2004-05) for reviewing course proposals.

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1. THE THREE MANDATES BELOW ARE COPIED FROM THE PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY FOR THE MAY 10, 2004 MEETING AND FROM THE MINUTES OF THAT MEETING.

a. THE ORIGINAL CHARGE: 

Proposal II. Creation of General Education Oversight Committee described as follows:

The General Education Oversight Committee consists of one faculty member from each of the divisions and one faculty member from an interdisciplinary program, appointed by the FEC. The Director of General Studies, a member of the Institutional Research staff and a member of the Registrar’s office (ex officio, non voting), and the Associate Dean of the Faculty (ex officio) who serves as chair also serve. The Committee is charged to assure that adequate numbers of courses are offered to allow students to complete the general education requirements in their first two years. The Committee is charged to review proposals from faculty for courses that meet the general education requirements, and to prepare a list for the Committee on Instruction’s consideration and for publication in the annual Course Schedule. Review and approval by the divisional executive committees of courses proposed to fulfill relevant categories of the Critical Perspectives requirement may precede review by the Oversight Committee. The Registrar reviews transfer transcripts to determine which, if any, general education requirements have been completed at another school and refers questions to the Oversight Committee. 

b. ADDITIONAL CHARGE FOR MONITORING TRANSCRIPTS:

Note: PDF of 2005-2009 Transcript Analysis can be found here.

Monitoring of Student Transcripts: The Process for Evaluating Whether Students are Achieving the Liberal Arts Goals that Underlie the All-College Requirements

At its broadest the goal of the proposed revision of the all-college requirements is to streamline the general education requirements (from a maximum of 17 to a maximum of 11) and major requirements (from no maximum to one of 16) to open more “space in the middle” in which students can explore their own interests, study abroad, do a thematic minor, or delve more deeply into their major. An ancillary goal is to reduce the requirements and thus increase students’ ability to choose which courses they will take to fulfill these requirements rather than having so many requirements that they are forced to take a particular class because it is the only one that fits their schedule. The revision of the all-college requirements will be successful to the extent that students experience more “space in the middle,” make good use of that space, and perceive that they have meaningful choices in meeting existing requirement.

The first graduating class to have constructed their education under the proposed all-college requirements would be graduating in May of 2009, although some students might graduate earlier than that. Starting with the graduating class of 2005, the IR office will pull a sample of transcripts of graduating seniors (at least 25% of the class) and facilitate the General Education Oversight Committee’s evaluation of the extent to which students are meeting the educational goals specified in this proposal, namely breadth across all divisions of the college, depth in a major, exposure to the critical perspectives of diverse cultures and critiques, the West in time, and scientific inquiry. The General Education Oversight Committee will also evaluate whether students are able to complete the critical perspectives and foreign language requirements in their first two years and whether study abroad of completion of thematic minors are affected by the new requirements. In short, the General Education Oversight Committee will evaluate the extent to which the new all-college requirements, in contrast to the previous ones, allow “more space in the middle” and whether there is flexibility in fulfilling the general education requirements.

c. ADDITIONAL CHARGE FOR CREATING STANDARDS FOR ‘Q’ AND ‘W’.

Proposal III. Writing and Quantitative Intensive Courses

Note: In 2012, the faculty voted to add a one block requirement for all students for a course that has Quantitative Reasoning (Q). The faculty defined Q as: Quantitative Reasoning courses that develop students’ ability to work with and interpret numerical data, to apply logical and symbolic analysis to a variety of problems, and/or to model phenomena with mathematical or logical reasoning.

Note: The Writing Committee and Curriculum Committee (not GEOC) took charge of drafting and proposing to the faculty a writing requirement. A draft of the proposal can be found here.

The Committee recommends that courses with significant writing or quantitative components be indicated on a student’s transcript with a “W” or a “Q”. If the proposed revisions in the general education requirements pass, there would be no other such designations on the transcript (no A, B, C, N, L, S, or H). The proposed General Education Oversight Committee would solicit advice in formulating the standards for these courses and bring them to the faculty for approval. 

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2. SUMMARY OF CHARGES

  • The committee is the primary gateway for review of new courses seeking designation as meeting Critical Perspectives, Q or W; and also for review of previously approved courses every three years (Note: to reduce redundancy, GEOC has ceded review and standards of W courses to the Writing Committee)
  • The committee receives courses from departments and relevant divisions (which may comment on, ask for revision, but not veto courses) and in turn either rejects the course for designation or approves and passes it on to the Committee on Instruction (which reviews it and may pass it on to the Faculty for vote)
  • The committee solicits courses from the faculty and ensures that there are sufficient courses for students to complete these requirements in their first two years at the college
  • The committee solicits advise from the faculty for formulating standards for ‘Q’ and ‘W’ designation and will bring the proposed standards to the Faculty for approval
  • The committee monitors student transcripts to determine if these requirements have increased ‘room in the middle’ for students, specifically by:
    • Determining if students are completing their critical perspectives and foreign language requirements in their first two years at college
    • Determining whether study abroad or thematic minors are affected by the new requirements
    • Working with Institutional Research to review 25% of the transcripts of each class beginning with May 2005 (students from the old requirements) to determine if students are meeting the objectives of these new requirements 
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THE ACTUAL REQUIREMENTS AS PASSED FOLLOW (SEE ALSO THE CC WEBSITE): 

All-College Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree

March 15, 2005 

All-College requirements

I.  Students must satisfactorily complete 32 units of academic credit.  To achieve the breadth central to liberal learning, students must take and pass at least one full unit in each division, excluding adjuncts and extended format courses. International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement credits will not substitute for this requirement.

II. Students must satisfactorily complete a major course of study. No major may require more than 14 units in any one department and no more than 16 over all (including prerequisites).  (In departmentally-based majors, the two units beyond the 14 unit limit can be courses outside the department or adjunct courses. 

III.  Completion of the Critical Perspectives requirement: Diverse Cultures and Critiques (3 units); The West in Time (1 two block course, 2 units); Scientific Investigation of the Natural World (2 units, including at least one lab or field course). 

IV. Basic competency in a foreign language (2 blocks elementary or the equivalent).

FYE: A two-block course required of all first year students addressing issues likely to stimulate debate and including critical reading, effective writing, and a research project. 

Critical Perspectives Categories: goals and standards

[1]Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques helps students understand the unique perspective of their own culture by confronting other perspectives, both those within the culture and those outside it.  In contrast to the West in Time requirement, this requirement urges students to consider the different arrangements of human society across space.  These courses will examine one or more of the following:          

  • some facet of a non-western society;
  • some aspects of marginalized communities within the western tradition;
  • critiques of the western tradition.

Students may take three unrelated courses or three courses that address a common theme, group, or area of the world. 

[2] Critical Perspectives: The West in Time asks students to position their knowledge of the broader world not just through multifaceted inquiry into "the here and now" but through critical inquiry across time as well. As an all-college requirement, The West in Time acknowledges the crucial importance of understanding the past as the context out of which contemporary modes of inquiry and contemporary fields of study have grown.

The West in Time is a two-block, two-unit course in which students will explore compelling aspects of the Western experience over a significant period of time (antiquity to the modern period or the Middle Ages to the modern period). This Critical Perspectives requirement acknowledges the modern Western propensity to create cultural and historical narratives which assume development and progress over time. It also insists on the importance of understanding the contemporary Western 'self' in the context of previous iterations of the 'self'. Courses in this area of inquiry will accomplish some combination of the following:

  • engage students in an exploration of the past through examination of ideas, events, cultural institutions and practices;
  • enable students to expand their understanding of narratives of the development of the Western tradition over time and provide them with the analytical tools to critique those narratives;
  • engage students in critical analysis of the connections between the past and the present;
  • encourage students to consider how our understanding of contemporary events is informed by our grasp of the historical past.

[3]Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World enhances students’ understanding of the natural world and of the methods central to modern science.  It gives students opportunities to explore the broader earth system and universe, a sphere of inquiry which includes but is not limited to humans. In a world influenced by science and technology, informed citizens need to be familiar with the distinctive ways of thinking characteristic of the sciences and need to cultivate skill in quantitative reasoning.  This requirement complements the West in Time and the Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirements by addressing a distinct approach to the understanding of the world which originated in the west but currently exercises global influence.  These courses will meet the description of the preceding paragraph and will accomplish some combination of the following:

  • explicitly address the nature of the scientific method;
  • give students direct experience in the gathering and analysis of scientific data;
  • emphasize the use of quantitative reasoning;
  • introduce the foundations and principles of scientific knowledge;
  • enhance scientific literacy.

At least one of the two units must involve significant laboratory or field experience.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS PROPOSAL FOR THE MAY 10, 2004 MEETING: 

Effective Date: Which Students would be Affected by the Proposed Curriculum Change?

The set of All-College Requirements detailed in Proposal I would take effect for students who enroll for the first time at Colorado College in the fall of 2005; already enrolled students can choose whether to fulfill the existing requirements or the new requirements with the caveat that current AP:A courses will count as “West in Time” courses and current AP:B courses will count as “Diverse Cultures and Critiques” courses.

Implementation: The Process for establishing Courses that Meet the Critical Perspectives Requirement

Identifying Critical Perspectives Courses: The Curriculum Committee recommends the following approach for identifying Critical Perspectives courses:

  • Blocks 1 and 2–departments identify courses in their offerings that will meet specific Critical Perspectives categories and submit proposed course rubrics to the General Education Oversight Committee. Nothing prevents the divisional executive committees from reviewing courses proposed to fulfill relevant categories of the Critical Perspectives requirement before submission to the General Oversight Committee;
  • Blocks 3 and 4–the General Education Oversight Committee meets to review proposals and determine which courses will be included in the subsequent academic year Critical Perspectives offerings; 
  • Block 5–The General Education Oversight Committee submits approved list of Critical Perspective offerings to the Committee on Instruction for review. The Registrar then includes them in the Course Schedule for the following academic year.

Once a course has been designated as a Critical Perspectives course, it will remain on the books for three years after which it must be re-submitted for approval. New courses follow existing procedures. 

Monitoring of Student Transcripts: The Process for Evaluating Whether Students are Achieving the Liberal Arts Goals that Underlie the All-College Requirements

At its broadest the goal of the proposed revision of the all-college requirements is to streamline the general education requirements (from a maximum of 17 to a maximum of 11) and major requirements (from no maximum to one of 16) to open more “space in the middle” in which students can explore their own interests, study abroad, do a thematic minor, or delve more deeply into their major. An ancillary goal is to reduce the requirements and thus increase students’ ability to choose which courses they will take to fulfill these requirements rather than having so many requirements that they are forced to take a particular class because it is the only one that fits their schedule. The revision of the all-college requirements will be successful to the extent that students experience more “space in the middle,” make good use of that space, and perceive that they have meaningful choices in meeting existing requirements.

The first graduating class to have constructed their education under the proposed all-college requirements would be graduating in May of 2009, although some students might graduate earlier than that. Starting with the graduating class of 2005, the IR office will pull a sample of transcripts of graduating seniors (at least 25% of the class) and facilitate the General Education Oversight Committee’s evaluation of the extent to which students are meeting the educational goals specified in this proposal, namely breadth across all divisions of the college, depth in a major, exposure to the critical perspectives of diverse cultures and critiques, the West in time, and scientific inquiry. The General Education Oversight Committee will also evaluate whether students are able to complete the critical perspectives and foreign language requirements in their first two years and whether study abroad of completion of thematic minors are affected by the new requirements. In short, the General Education Oversight Committee will evaluate the extent to which the new all-college requirements, in contrast to the previous ones, allow “more space in the middle” and whether there is flexibility in fulfilling the general education requirements. 

The Rationale: 

[a] Majors: A liberal education aims “primarily at providing general knowledge and at developing general intellectual capacities.” [From a Convocation Address Delivered by President Lloyd Edson Worner, Colorado College, April 11, 1969]. While it encourages depth in a major area of study, a liberal arts education also favors broad exposure to different areas of knowledge and to different modes of thought. Ideally depth and breadth reinforce each other. 

Liberal learning also values choice and experimentation. Giving students the space to discover a new interest, to build on established ones, and to complement their CC educations with off-campus study depends on establishing a balance between requirements and free choice. To secure both balance and flexibility, we felt it important to establish a limit on major requirements. 

[b] Critical Perspectives: We believe that certain perspectives are critical to the educated person. Examining distinct approaches to living in and understanding the world–those of diverse cultures, of the west in the past, and the scientific mode of investigation central to the present–gives students greater perspective on themselves. T.S. Eliot captured the idea: “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” [Four Quartets, “Little Gidding,” Section V] To confront these different perspectives and to evaluate them comparatively also fosters the critical thinking we seek to cultivate in our students.

Familiarity with a range of different disciplines also matters, and this requirement encourages that. A liberal arts education should foster in students “a commitment to ideas that spill beyond the borders of their fields” (Schneider, “Knowledge Beyond Disciplines” 14). At Colorado College, we work to engage students in holistic critical learning that will allow them to solve problems through multifaceted inquiry: not only through disciplinary, but also through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary inquiry.

[c] The Requirements as a Whole: Our review of the current requirements confirmed common perceptions. The lack of any restrictions on the number of courses required for a major and the number and complexity of the General Education requirements restrict (sometimes dramatically) the number of uncommitted blocks. [See Appendix 1]. The limitation of major requirements to 16 combined with the reduction of General Education blocks promises to expand the space in the middle. The natural science major who does not need to take foreign language and whose FYE counts for either Diverse Cultures and Critiques or the West in Time would have 3 general education units left to fulfill. That is the minimum under the new system. The maximum, for a student majoring in a department in the social sciences or humanities, who needs to take two blocks of foreign language and for whom the FYE does not satisfy any Critical Perspectives requirement, would be 11 units. A sixteen-unit major and an 11 unit general education commitment leaves 5 units; the current system could leave a student with no free blocks.

Proposal II. General Education Oversight Committee

A general education oversight committee should exist to designate the Critical Perspectives courses for listing in the Course Schedule each year. This committee will also review Critical Perspectives designation for new courses. During the 2004-05 academic year, this committee would receive and review courses proposed to meet the new requirement (or review courses that currently meet the existing requirements). The faculty member who proposes such a class would provide an overview of the material to be covered and an argument about why this course meets the designated requirement.

We propose the creation of the General Education Oversight Committee described as follows:

The General Education Oversight Committee consists of one faculty member from each of the divisions and one faculty member from an interdisciplinary program, appointed by the FEC. The Director of General Studies, a member of the Institutional Research staff and a member of the Registrar’s office (ex officio, non voting), and the Associate Dean of the Faculty (ex officio) who serves as chair also serve. The Committee is charged to assure that adequate numbers of courses are offered to allow students to complete the general education requirements in their first two years. The Committee is charged to review proposals from faculty for courses that meet the general education requirements, and to prepare a list for the Committee on Instruction’s consideration and faculty approval and for publication in the annual Course Schedule. Review and approval by the divisional executive committees of courses proposed to fulfill relevant categories of the Critical Perspectives requirement may precede review by the Oversight Committee. The Registrar reviews transfer transcripts to determine which, if any, general education requirements have been completed at another school and refers questions to the Oversight Committee.

Proposal III. Writing and Quantitative Intensive Courses

The Committee recommends that courses with significant writing or quantitative components be indicated on a student’s transcript with a “W” or a “Q”. If the proposed revisions in the general education requirements pass, there would be no other such designations on the transcript (no A, B, C, N, L, S, or H). The proposed General Education Oversight Committee would solicit advice in formulating the standards for these courses and bring them to the faculty for approval.

Identifying courses across divisions should help direct students to those courses and provide them with further incentive to take them.

We also encourage the FEC to charge next year’s Curriculum Committee to consider adding courses with a strong experiential component to those receiving special designation on the transcript.

Background:

The committee learned a great deal from its discussions with the faculty as it formulated an alternative to the existing All-College requirements. It met with department and program chairs, with the Natural Science Division, and with the FEC as part of its initial examination of the impact of the current requirements. [See Appendix 1, Curriculum Committee Report} Once we framed some options, we presented them to the faculty in three open discussions in Hamlin House as well as at the Block 6 faculty meeting. On the basis of these discussions, we amended the proposal and brought it to the faculty at the Block 7 meeting. We made several changes in response to questions and concerns voiced at that time.

In all these discussions, we found little support for the current arrangements and still less agreement on alternatives. People seemed often to talk at cross purposes. Some urged a simple divisional distribution requirement; others sought more content-based requirements. Voices in and outside the Natural Science division expressed the need for a science requirement. However, we rarely heard social scientists or humanists insist that students take courses in their divisions, although they definitely valued breadth in a student’s curriculum. Faculty in these two divisions often underscored the importance of studying other cultures and the western tradition. In challenging the effectiveness of a distribution requirement, they noted that students learn methodology primarily in their majors rather than in introductory level courses.

These different approaches to general education reflect differences in the divisions. Departments in the natural science share more than departments in either of the other two divisions do. There is, for example, greater similarity in focus and methodology between chemistry and biology than between art and English. The fact that many natural science departments require their majors to take courses in other departments in the division while few departments in the humanities and the social sciences do, underscores the difference. 

On the other hand, disciplines in the humanities and social sciences address some broad common issues. They share about equally, for example, in supporting the current Alternative Perspective A and B requirements.

It seemed possible to bring together interests in methods of inquiry and fields of inquiry by engaging students in focused, critical examination of what shapes their own lives and those of others. In the examination of the physical world, modes and zones of inquiry come together. As they study how people operate in other cultures and in other times, students also learn something of the methods distinctive to particular disciplines.

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MINUTES OF MAY 10, 2004- WITH DISCUSSION INCLUDED ON ASPECTS OF THE ABOVE PROPOSAL: 

VII. Report of the Committee on the Curriculum. Professors Ashley and Roberts on behalf of the Curriculum Committee moved the following proposals.

A. Proposal I.  Changes to the All-College requirements.  To graduate from Colorado College students must fulfill the following:

Students must satisfactorily complete 32 units of academic credit. To achieve the breadth central to liberal learning, students must take courses in all divisions of the College.

Students must satisfactorily complete a major course of study. No major may require more than 14 units in any one department and no more than 16 over all (including prerequisites). (In departmentally-based majors, the two units beyond the 14 unit limit can be courses outside the department or adjunct courses.)

Completion of the Critical Perspectives requirement: Diverse Cultures and Critiques (3 units); The West in Time (1 two block course, 2 units); Scientific Inquiry (2 units).

Basic competency in a foreign language (2 blocks elementary or the equivalent).

FYE: A two-block course required of all first year students addressing issues likely to stimulate debate. The course emphasizes critical reading, effective writing and includes a research project.

To the proposal outlined in Appendix 2 of the faculty agenda, the committee added the following text:

  • In Proposal I, under New Approach for Identifying Critical Perspectives Courses, in subsection Blocks 1 and 2, the following text was added to last line, “Nothing prevents the divisional executive committees from reviewing courses proposed to fulfill relevant categories of the Critical Perspectives requirement before submission to the General Oversight Committee

Discussion of this proposalProfessor Hernandez-Lemus spoke to the importance of including radial understanding into the curriculum and urged the approval of the curriculum because it did incorporate this important topic.

Professor C. Siddoway offered the following change in text as an amendments:

1. Scientific Inquiry description should refer to “natural world” rather than “physical world”. The amendment was accepted by the faculty without significant comment or vote.

2. At end of description paragraph to Critical Perspectives: Scientific Inquiry, change to read “These courses will do two or more of the following:” The amendment was accepted by the faculty after a vote of 60-19.

3. Insert an item in the “bulleted list” of item that described the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Inquiry courses, “explore the broader Earth system and universe that includes but is not limited to humanity.” After suggestion by the committee, it was agreed to move this sentence to follow the first sentence in the description of Scientific Inquiry to read: “It gives students opportunities to explore the broader earth system and universe, a sphere of inquiry which includes but is not limited to humans.” The amendment was accepted by the faculty without significant comment or vote.

4. To include at the end of the Critical Perspectives requirement (Roman III, above), “2 units total, minimum of 1 unit of lab/field).” The amendment was accepted by the faculty without significant comment or vote.

Professor Ebersole moved that the Scientific Inquiry requirement be increased from 2 to 3 units. The motion was seconded. Some felt that the importance of science in society was sufficient to maintain the science requirement at 3 units and that the Natural Science Division could sustain such a curricular load. Others did not. The motion failed on a vote of 37-77.

Professors C. Siddoway and Bower offered an amendment requiring all Scientific Inquiry courses to be reviewed by the Natural Science Executive Committee. The proposed text would be inserted under the description of Scientific Inquiry courses: “In the case of Scientific Inquiry courses, proposals must go to the Natural Sciences executive committee for approval prior to submission to the General Education Oversight Committee.”  The motion was seconded. Some felt that the General Education Oversight Committee was not adequately staffed to maintain the integrity on the Scientific Inquiry critical perspective. Others felt that there was sufficient review put in place at the Committee on Instruction and at a general faculty meeting to address these concerns. The motion failed on a vote of 41-48.

The motion to accept Proposal I was seconded and passed on a vote of 83-19.

B. Proposal II. Creation of General Education Oversight Committee described as follows:

The General Education Oversight Committee consists of one faculty member from each of the divisions and one faculty member from an interdisciplinary program, appointed by the FEC. The Director of General Studies, a member of the Institutional Research staff and a member of the Registrar’s office (ex officio, non voting), and the Associate Dean of the Faculty (ex officio) who serves as chair also serve. The Committee is charged to assure that adequate numbers of courses are offered to allow students to complete the general education requirements in their first two years. The Committee is charged to review proposals from faculty for courses that meet the general education requirements, and to prepare a list for the Committee on Instruction’s consideration and for publication in the annual Course Schedule. Review and approval by the divisional executive committees of courses proposed to fulfill relevant categories of the Critical Perspectives requirement may precede review by the Oversight Committee. The Registrar reviews transfer transcripts to determine which, if any, general education requirements have been completed at another school and refers questions to the Oversight Committee.  (The above boldface text was added by the committee to the proposal at the faculty meeting.)

Discussion of this proposal centered on the creation of yet another faculty committee and whether the work of this committee was actually necessary, given its redundancy to the Committee on Instruction. Dean Nelson-Cisneros responded that indeed the work was doable, but would be more onerous than the current workload. The opinion was expressed that the committee was needed to maintain the criterion set forth by Proposal I for the critical perspective courses.

The motion was seconded and passed on a vote of 79-4.

C. Proposal III. Writing and Quantitative Intensive Courses.  The Committee recommended that courses with significant writing or quantitative components be indicated on a student’s transcript with a “W” or a “Q”. If the proposed revisions in the general education requirements pass, there would be no other such designations on the transcript (no A, B, C, N, L, S, or H). The proposed General Education Oversight Committee would solicit advice in formulating the standards for these courses and bring them to the faculty for approval.

The motion was seconded and passed on a vote of 81-0.

Following the curriculum committee votes at 5:33P.M. there was a motion to continue, which following a second was approved on a voice vote. 

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5) General Guidelines for Critical Perspectives Designation

The General Education Oversight Committee has decided upon the following guidelines in determining the Critical Perspectives designations of The West in Time, Global Cultures, Social Inequality, and Scientific Inquiry. We are indebted to the excellent work of the divisional executive committees, and particularly to the natural science divisional executive committee, in articulating these guidelines. In a number of instances, the GEOC had decided independently upon guidelines that were also put forward by the divisional executive committees. We have borrowed language from the reports of the divisional executive committees in constructing the list of guidelines below.

  1. Courses may meet more than one designation (for example, a course may be designated both “West in Time” and “Global Cultures”) but students must choose one designation or the other, as they do now with AP:C courses. We found that some courses (not many) met the criteria for multiple Critical Perspectives and we would like to honor the scope and depth of these courses. Again, students may not count one course as fulfilling multiple Critical Perspectives requirements. 
     
  2. Topics courses do not receive blanket designations; we will determine the Critical Perspective designation at the ‘section’ level on a case-by-case basis annually.
     
  3. Courses of less than one-unit credit do not count toward Critical Perspectives requirements. The rationale is that a 0.5 unit course does not achieve sufficient depth or breadth to fulfill the objectives of the CP requirement. We should note that in the case of a half-block course intrinsically linked to an extended format course (such that students must take both to receive one full unit of credit), the whole course, half-block and extended format combined, may receive a Critical Perspectives designation.
     
  4. Independent study and reading courses do not count toward Critical Perspectives requirements. Our reasoning is that this sort of course, commonly arranged for one or only a few students, may not devote sufficient attention to the Critical Perspectives objectives for one of the 3 rubrics. Also the more open form of the courses, potentially without regular class meetings, and the small number of participants, may mean that the advantages of undertaking Critical Perspectives investigations with and among a diverse group of students would not be realized.
     
  5. College-credit courses earned before matriculation at Colorado College (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, etc.) should not be allowed to fulfill Critical Perspectives requirements, except for the case of transfer students. The rationale is that only courses at Colorado College will have been designed and carried out with the Critical Perspectives objectives in mind. The Registrar will examine transcripts from which questions emerge (for example, transfer transcripts) and, in consultation with the General Education Oversight Committee, will identify courses that may be eligible.
     
  6. Two-block FYE courses should be eligible for just one Scientific Inquiry credit, due to the obligation of the FYE courses to help students develop diverse college skills. Linked one-block FYE courses, each of which already has Scientific Inquiry designation, will carry two credits of Scientific Inquiry. Students fulfilling two units of Scientific Inquiry in their FYE linked courses must still also meet the requirement that one unit of Scientific Inquiry must be Lab/Field, which means that if neither of their FYE courses are Lab/Field, they will still need to take a subsequent Scientific Inquiry: Lab/Field course.
     
  7. (This applies primarily to courses in the Natural Sciences.) Courses with three or more pre-requisites need not be eligible for Critical Perspectives designation, since in most cases the pre-requisites will have satisfied the Critical Perspectives requirement.
     
  8. (This applies primarily to courses in the Natural Sciences.) Scientific Inquiry courses that already have Lab/Field designation will continue to do so. The GEOC will not attribute Lab/Field designation to new courses: the department, taking the new course to the divisional executive committee and on to the Committee on Instruction and the Faculty Agenda, will continue to name new Scientific Inquiry courses as meeting the Lab/Field designation. The GEOC will have the responsibility of recommending whether a course meets the Scientific Inquiry designation or not but will take the department’s (and COI’s) recommendation about Lab/Field.