Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council
October 8, 2012

Present:  Janet Clarke, Jennifer Dellaposta, Arlene Feldman, Rick Gatteau, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Ellen Hopkins, Peter Khost, Joe Mitchell, Michael Mooney, Jean Peden, Peter Stephens, Scott Sutherland

Minutes of September 12, 2012

After including Anne Moyer’s name as the scribe for this meeting, these minutes were accepted.

Issues considered

  • GNPC policy.  After discussion, it was unanimously agreed that “co-graded” courses (i.e., courses in which students receive the same grade in each course based on the combined work in both courses, as for PHY 121 and PHY 123) will be considered as “one course” for GNPC purposes.
  • Final exam schedule and the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The new academic calendar schedules final exams from May 17-24 and commencement on May 23 and May 24. However, Shavuot, a holiday in which observant Jews are not allowed to write, begins at sundown on May 14 and ends at sundown on May 16.  Three options were considered to try to deal with this problem:  (1) not have May 13 as a reading day and replace the exams scheduled for May 15 and May 16 on one or both Sundays (May 12, Mothers Day and May 19, Pentecost); (2) don’t hold exams on May 15 and May 16 or on Sundays but extend the exam period for two days, which would mean that Commencement would be held after Memorial Day; (3) since the number of students who would be affected by the holiday is relatively small, let students and instructors make arrangements for an alternative time for the exams.

After considerable discussion, it was suggested that reading days be scheduled for May 13 to May 15 and the number of exams on May 16 be reduced and rescheduled to the  last day of exams.  This change would reduce the number of exams on the Shavuot holidays and make alternate arrangements somewhat easier.  This recommendation will be forwarded to Associate Provost Robbins.

A fuller discussion of the academic implications of the calendar change was deferred to a future meeting.

General Education. There was a discussion of the report from the Hammond committee and the questions raised about the proposed new General Education program at the University Senate meeting of October 1st as well as a number of written communications that were received by the UGC.  The main issues raised were:

  • The foreign language requirement:  The options discussed were (1) do away with this requirement, (2) make it an option with “global issues,”(3) keep it as is.  The language departments support keeping the foreign language requirement, but requested that the follow-up 2nd language may be in any foreign language rather than being limited to a non-European language and that students shouldn’t be allowed to take a language that is spoken in their home.  There was a call for data on how many students enrolled at Stony Brook already having satisfied their foreign language requirement.
  • Need for a second science course:  the argument made was that in the contemporary world, a brief introduction to science (i.e., one course) is not sufficient, and a second science course should be required.  It was suggested that a second course be added and should count as one of the “follow-up” courses that are required.  It was also suggested that a science lab experience be required since science needs to be learned in a “hands-on” manner as well as didactically.
  • Need to add a specific technology requirement:  It was suggested that this could be accomplished by including technology as one of the nine fundamental categories of General Education by changing “Study the natural world” to “Study the natural and man-made world” or Study the natural and technological world.”    
  • The “versatility” requirement should include a “systems” approach:   One suggestion was that this requirement should be specifically focused on the Earth System, past and future, and the interactions of human beings with it.
  • Reduce the number of areas in which the four follow-up courses are required to three areas:  This would facilitate the suggestions in some of the bullets above.
  • The focus on “learning outcomes” leads to an emphasis on knowledge as a product rather than the process of learning.
  • Should the General Education requirement be universal (i.e., a requirement for all schools and colleges) or allowances made for special situations (e.g., external accrediting bodies requirements)?
  • Should all courses offered to satisfy the General Education requirement be passed with a grade of “C” or better or would an average of “C”  for all General Education courses be sufficient?

A special meeting was scheduled for Monday, October 14th to draft a recommendation to the University Senate about the new proposed General Education requirements.

Respectfully submitted,

Norman Goodman