Turning An Idea Into A Core

"This was the first time one of my courses had undergone a peer review, and the very idea seems a wonderful one," Wisse says. "I really appreciated the fact that it was looked at by people who knew [the Core system] and could make suggestions."

After reading the committee's criticisms, you would amend your "Goats" proposal accordingly.

These amendments could include switching one lecture from "Herding and Politics, part IV," to "Goat Cheese and Social Power in Medieval Korea," and including a first paper on the depictions of goatherders in the operas of Uzbekistan.

After making these amendments, your revised course proposal would be reconsidered by the subcommittee, and hopefully approved for consideration by FAS's Standing Committee on the Core Curriculum.

Step 3: Acceptance


The Standing Committee, whose meetings you also are not usually allowed to attend, is made up of the chairs of all Core subcommittees and chaired by Knowles. Undergraduate Council-chosen student representatives again also have nonvoting input.

Chair of the Science Core subcommittee Henry Ehrenreich, says that by the time a course proposal reaches the Standing Committee, it usually is a fairly finished product.

"Acceptance by the Standing Committee is not a pro forma thing," says Ehrenreich, who is also Clowes professor of science. "But by that time the proposal has been vetted enough that things become a bit easier."

Co-chair of the Quantitative Reasoning Core subcommittee Benedict H. Gross says that the Standing Committee--made up of experts from all fields--may raise questions not touched upon by the specialists in subcommittee.

"It's often more difficult to get through the Standing Committee, because they're not experts," says Gross, also professor of mathematics. "They say, 'That doesn't make sense to me, how is it going to make sense to students?'"

The Standing Committee is the final hurdle for "Goats," but it may still raise enough questions to necessitate another amendment to your proposal.

After this final round of amendments, and reconsideration of your proposal by the Standing Committee, approval means a place in the course catalog.

Estimates vary, but the entire process, from idea to implementation, should take a year on average, and two years at the longest.

However, as a busy Faculty member committed to courses in history (such as "Goats, Moats and Boats: Livestock, Castles and Commerce in the Middle Ages") and literature ("The Hidden Role of the Herd in the Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky"), your teaching schedule may be too full to fit in a Core course for another two or three years.

Dominguez said last week that his most recent lunch would probably not yield a listed course until Fall 1999--"Professor X is not underemployed," he says.

With this process behind you and "Goats" in the catalog, Dominguez and his subcommittee would continue to provide oversight--some courses have even been removed from the catalog for various reasons after two or three years of Core existence.

After months of discussion, dissension, amendment and revision, the only thing remaining is to order the books and reserve the classroom. After a year as a dream, a proposal and a topic for debate, "Goats" is finally a reality

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