Warren Proposes GE Changes to Create College Identity

    Earl Warren College freshman Ramya Chitters (front) listens to a Warren College writing program lecture. New freshmen will have modified general education requirements if approved by the UCSD Academic Senate. (Karen Ling/Guardian)

    Correction: A news article published on Jan. 17 titled “Warren Proposes GE Changes to Create College Identity” incorrectly identified Alex Miller as chair of the Warren College Student Council. In fact, Miller is the chair of the Warren College Concert Commission.


    The UCSD Academic Senate’s Committee on Educational Policy
    approved a faculty-drafted, five-point proposal last month that would alter Earl Warren
    College
    ’s general
    education requirements, despite opposition from members of the Warren College
    Student Council who argued that they should have been involved in the process.

    If approved by the Academic Senate, incoming Warren students will only
    be allowed to take one interdisciplinary program of concentration course
    offered by the Education Abroad Program, the humanities department or the
    science and technology perspectives in the social science program. The formal
    skills requirement for arts, humanities and social science majors will be
    integrated into their program of concentration, which essentially eliminates
    taking two additional courses. Transfer students will have an additional third,
    noncontiguous upper division course requirement.

    In addition, students pursuing a B.S. in engineering will be
    required to take one more upper-division area of study course, where a
    lower-division course was previously acceptable. A lower-division ethics and
    society class, offered through the philosophy and political science
    departments, will be restructured into a two-course sequence.

    Warren Provost Steven Adler has been examining the general
    education requirements since he began his term in 2004. In collaboration with
    the Warren Executive Committee of the Faculty, Adler had been discussing
    changes in the current curriculum since May 2007.

    “Requirements need to change and evolve because they should
    reflect the faculty’s wisdom as to where education should go at any given
    time,” Adler said. “We were determining whether the general education
    requirements were still serving our needs, which is inextricably linked to an
    examination of Warren’s
    identity.”

    While these changes are not drastic, they would enrich
    students with a deeper understanding of Warren’s
    mission statement through an additional course in ethics, and decrease the gap
    in requirement distinctions between engineering and nonengineering students, he
    said.

    “We felt that the extra quarter of ethics and society would
    better serve the students with a greater foundation in ethics,” Adler said.
    “The other four proposals would make the students’ education better
    well-rounded. It’s to give our students a better education, to make them better
    scholars and to prepare them for the challenges they will encounter after they
    graduate.”

    CEP, the division of the Academic Senate that oversees any
    course changes requested by colleges or departments, voted 8-1 on Dec. 7 to
    approve the changes. The only dissenting voter was the committee’s sole
    undergraduate representative, A.S. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
    Long Pham, who said that his vote represented students’ sentiments on the
    issue.

    “I tried to convey what I heard, which was that students
    generally didn’t want these additional classes,” Pham said.

    CEP Chair Kim Griest said that the committee considered
    Pham’s arguments, but that the colleges have the primary responsibility of
    determining the kind of education they want to offer.

    “Since the college had already voted and gone through this
    whole process to make this change, we believe that colleges and departments
    should be able to create the kind of education that they want,” Griest said.
    “We are just the monitoring body. We just check to make sure that everything is
    fair.”

    Griest said that the proposal underscored the need to create
    an identity in Warren’s
    core courses, which the course changes would help to expand.

    “They argued that it was a step in the right direction,” he
    said. “Warren
    has always been a bit of an anomaly. It always had less general education
    requirements than the other colleges.”

    Pham presented the changes to WCSC on Jan. 10, where
    councilmembers expressed mixed reactions to the news. Contrary to their initial
    understanding of the meeting, Pham was there to inform them of the changes, not
    to obtain their input.

    WCSC Chair Alex Miller said that the student body is
    supposed to be included in the decision-making process for issues relevant to
    its colleges.

    “Student input has always been given in the past,” Miller
    said. “The only thing we have seen specifically was talk of the first point.
    Everything else was floated by the council in the past couple of years. So, my
    problem is that no student was introduced to this specific proposal before it’s
    been approved.”

    Because the proposal requires changes in the bylaws, it must
    pass through the Academic Senate. If the Academic Senate approves the proposal
    this year, the changes will take effect in Fall Quarter 2009.

    “It certainly would not affect any student currently
    enrolled,” Adler said.

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