After deliberating throughout the fall semester, the Wabash College faculty voted Tuesday to reduce the number of semesters of required All-College courses from three to two.
The proposal was brought before the faculty by a group of academic department chairs, which was then taken up by the Academic Policy Committee. The APC came back to the faculty last November with a recommended action plan. The proposal was initiated — in part — by a reduction in teaching faculty over the next three years.
Specifically, all Wabash students will continue to take the All-College Freshman Tutorial during the fall semester of the freshman year, and will take an additional one-semester All-College course that will replace Cultures and Traditions.
A committee, chaired by psychology professor Bobby Horton and comprising faculty from all academic divisions, will begin work immediately to design the new All-College course, which will be in place for the Class of 2014 when it enters the College. The change will not have an impact on the current freshman class.
Academic division representatives elected to serve on the planning committee were physics professor James Brown from Division I, theater professor Michael Abbott from Division II, and history professor Stephen Morillo from Division III. Dean Phillips and the Division Chairs also appointed chemistry professor Ann Taylor, religion professor Bob Royalty, and teacher education professor Michele Pittard to the committee. A student representative will also be named to the committee.
“The curricular revision of our All-College course offerings now underway is part of the faculty’s continuing work to strengthen the Wabash learning experience for all students,” said Dean of the College Gary Phillips. “The faculty are committed to maintaining a curriculum with high academic challenge, high quality student/faculty engagement, and a rich diversity of intellectual and lived experience. The newly-formed All-College Course Committee will engage students and faculty in crafting a new course that meets these standards; nothing less than an excellent and engaged experience will do.”
The new one-semester All-College course will be required of all students and will be taught by faculty from all disciplines. The proposal states that the new course will “offer a common intellectual experience shared by the College community challenging teachers and learners alike to move outside their comfort zones, while also allowing room for faculty creativity,”
In designing the new course, the committee will consult the Freshman Tutorial and Cultures and Traditions co-chairs and also welcome suggestions from the Wabash community at large.
“Exciting work lies ahead,” noted President Pat White. “There is no more important task for the faculty than to design, intentionally and thoughtfully, a common teaching and learning experience for all students. I am proud of the way in which faculty and students have discussed these issues and proud of the confidence, care, and high spirits that will drive the vital work of planning a signature course for Wabash.”
The committee is expected to make a preliminary report to the faculty by April 6 with recommendations for organizing the course, when in a student’s career he will take the course, and possible timelines for implementation.
“In my view, the enthusiasm and energy faculty have demonstrated for creating a common intellectual experience for our students and for the faculty, one that stands in the long Wabash tradition of engaged learning, is uncommon and to be celebrated,” added Dean Phillips.