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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A possible direction

I read with interest Diogenes response to my last post. I am afraid if we abandon the field that all will be lost. I think confrontation at the next round table and even taking over the next round table from Zemsky is a better tactic. In light of that I have two ideas. The first is the demand for real resources for the social sciences, humanites and fine arts. Diogenes references Johns Hopkins and well he should. An institution noted for its research that truly values liberal arts. The same is true of MIT and others. It is not an either/ or false dichotomy as we have been led to believe. That discussion occured at A & S yesterday and was important. STEMM does not mean support for one idea while excluding all others. This leads me to my second point.

If we claim the ability to integrate knowledge and to solve problems is the result of a liberal arts education, then let's put the university's resources there. Let us create interdisciplinary courses that do that. After a student reaches 65 hours, he/she must take two classes that exhibit this interdisciplinary/problem solving view of life. To satisfy the requirement, the class must be team taught by at least two faculty from different areas, not just departments. For example a class might be taught by someone who is knowledgeable about environmental issues and by someone in communication who is knowledgeable about the way those issues are actually communicated to the public. After taking the class, the student has the option of applying it toward their natural science requirement or their social science requirement. Both professors will get full credit for teaching the class. Both will be required to be present each day. The class will have no more than 25 students. Any combination of science and social science or science and art or science and the humanities will be possible. You may do the same for any of the areas. The classes may not be taken until their junior year because I want them to have basic knowledge before they get to this class. This will not add to their required coursework, but will substitute for two classes they would have taken in a specific discipline. If the liberal arts matter then we need to show them how it works. The floor is now open for comments. Please be gentle I was up late last night celebrating.

1 comment:

Diogenes said...

Respectfully, to depart the TLA experience at this time is not "to abandon the field" but to bring the ball onto our own court in order to keep the ball in play. The "ball" in this case is the soul of our Arts & Sciences College, at the heart of which is the liberal arts, its graduate programs, and its faculty. Trust the A&S faculty to be student-centered, for it has always been so. "The true capital of a university is its faculty." I did not make up this claim. See here:

A&S faculty are worthy of investment and not deserving of disrespect. Since Zemsky, his TLA, the UT BOT, President Jacobs, and Provost Haggett are ideologically hostile to A&S faculty, we must attempt to educate them otherwise. So, I recommend that our participating A&S faculty withdraw now from the TLS Roundtable process. To stick with it is an endorsement of the process and its fundamental belief that tenure-track A&S faculty are not important -- much less essential -- to the "market-smart and mission-centered" UT public university that President Jacobs envisions in his "Directions" strategic planning document.

Please, Professor Tucker, withdraw from this TLA farce before it can and will be used to justify the further erosion of quality faculty capital in the A&S College at UT. Surely you can by now see the writing on the wall. Enough is enough. Remember that the BOT, President Jacobs and Provost Haggett are hired and committed to swiftly implement the "Directions" plan. Now with the election of Barak Obama, whose vision of improving the quality public higher education is very different from TLA "market-smart" dogma, Jacobs et all are desperate to do so. They have set for themselves a strict timetable -- and their time is quickly running out.

Please Professor Tucker and other A&S faculty on the Roundtable, don't play into the hands of these market fundamentalists and carpetbaggers. They don’t care about our venerated UT A&S ideals, achievements and loyalties. Help save A&S, its rich and varied liberal arts traditions, and its time-tested trust in a dedicated tenured faculty to achieve through their quality research and teaching the age-old student-centered mission of public higher education in America.