The college’s academic curriculum is under review for an update in the upcoming school year by committees formed of students, faculty and staff members that plan to develop changes to school-wide academic policies, including revising the requirements for make-up exams and extending the “Freshman Drop.”
The faculty passed two of the proposals on Tuesday, April 4.
The first is a change in the language of a policy regarding extensions and make-up exams during finals period. Olivia Pinney ’17, one of two students on the Curriculum Committee, said that prior to this change, make-up exams were only permitted when the student had an illness, and extensions were permitted only for medical reasons or personal emergencies.
Now, the language of the policy is more reflective of the typical practices of professors, and the circumstances under which make-up exams and extensions will be granted will not be limited to medical or personal emergencies.
The second proposal will extend the “Freshman Drop” policy to allow first-years, sophomores and juniors to drop a class without penalty.
“Extraneous circumstances, such as illness or something that makes it not feasible to complete [a class] … could happen at any point in someone’s college career, and the college doesn’t see why the juniors or sophomores should be prevented from having the option to drop a class without penalty, given that they meet all the requirements to try to continue with the class,” said Pinney.
The Committee of Educational Policy is further discussing the possibility of offering minors.
“The CEP has put together a draft proposal for a minor program that is currently being reviewed by the chairs of departments, and we expect their comments sometime in the next couple of weeks,” said Professor David Hall, CEP chair, in an online interview. However, there are not yet any formal proposals in place regarding the matter, he added.
Professor Geoffrey Sanborn, co-chair of the Curriculum Committee, said in an email interview that the committee is also reviewing and making changes to the college’s First-Year Seminar program.
These changes, however, will likely not be presented to the faculty for a vote until the fall of 2017, said Sanborn.
Another proposal would give students 1.5 credits to courses that meet for twice the average length of time in a week, including certain lab classes.
Sanborn also said that the committee is creating a new “Learning Goals Statement” for the college as well as proposals regarding the current advising system.
The Curriculum Committee has also developed smaller sub-proposals for the college’s academic curriculum. Sanborn said the committee hopes to implement “clusters” or “teaching collaboratives,” a system that would encourage professors from different departments to create courses that focus on a variety of disciplines and subjects, or have shared syllabi.
The length of time required to implement these and other proposals could vary, according to Pinney. She said that while some proposals, such as the extension of the Freshman Drop, require only the approval of the dean and are therefore likely to be implemented relatively quickly, others, such as the upgrades to the First-Year Seminar program, will likely take more time.
The Curriculum Committee has been working for two years to revise the curriculum. The proposals must be approved by the Committee of Educational Policy and voted on by faculty members.
According to Pinney, the college has not ratified a new curriculum since before the college became co-ed.
These curriculum changes, Pinney said, will hopefully represent the best interests of students.
“All of the changes that we aspire to make are pro-students,” said Pinney. “And then, on more controversial issues, that’s when Natasha Kim ’18 [the other student member of the Curriculum Committee] and I will step up and make sure that the student voice is heard.”