Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council
April 7, 2010
Present: Michael Barnhart, Cynthia Dietz, Donna Di Donato, Sarah Fuller, Jeff Ge, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Tom Hemmick, Joe Mitchell, Beverly Rivera, Scott Sutherland

Presentation by Thomas K. Hemmick

Thomas K. Hemmick, a Physics professor who chairs the General Eduction Committee, gave a PPT presentation on the state of the GenEd Committee’s work. This is a midterm report. The intent is to communicate to the campus community before making concrete proposals. Tom’s presentation as well as the discussion that followed was recorded on ECHO, which is expected to be made available for campus wide viewing.
Tom started by describing the membership and composition of the GenEd Committee. It is a large committee consisting of 24 members with representatives from most departments.  During the first meeting of the committee, a purpose statement was made up as follows:
Our purpose is to assess and reconsider the stony brook general education curriculum to provide our students with a diverse educational foundation that will facilitate lifelong active and adaptive learning and inspire engaged global citizenship.”
Seven subcommittees have been formed, each was tasked for a specific aspect of the GenEd reform process. This include NYS requirements, data mining from the existing DEC, student survey, future needs, survey of GenEd requirements from other universities etc. Based on student survey, GenEd committee found the following regarding the current DEC:

  1. Succeeded in delivering a well-rounded education that provides diverse viewpoints, diverse thought patterns, and diverse information.
  2. Failed when it comes to highlighting the learning objectives, outside-the-classroom experience, and interdisciplinary experience.
  3. There is room for improvement in several areas including oral communication, updating antiquated categories (IJK), finance, information management, and autonomy.

Several models of delivering GenEd curriculum were presented. They range from strictly prescribed course sequence to one that provides students with many choices. Three principle recommendations have been made:

Recommendations I: Require “out of classroom” experience service which include service learning, internship, research, committee/student government service, study abroad, peer instruction/advising etc.
Recommendation II: Adopt a “learning outcomes” based curriculum instead of the traditional “subject” based curriculum.

Recommendation III: Include “Themed Path Options” that let a student choose a “most attractive option” similar to their choice of major.
Tom discussed the potential impact of each of the recommendations in terms of benefits to students and new challenges they present. Tom concluded his presentation by highlighting the scheduled events of the committee for the remainder of the semester.

UGC Discussion
The committee asked the question about the timeline and was told that it will take two years to get the new GenEd approved. Some felt that the two-year timeline is highly optimistic as the current DEC is so entrenched that there has to be significant lead time for department to redesign their curriculum. Norm Goodman added that this is a good framework to push things around.
The committee further discussed issues related experience based learning and service based learning and felt that faculty training is required for the new approach. Tom added that SUNY currently provides Toolkits for service learning.