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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY


PROTEST TO PROPOSED CHANGES FOR DEGREE REQUIREMENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMISTRY (D 203-214), THE SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (D 274-297), AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS (D 307-314) IN THE COLLEGE OF NATURAL SCIENCES CHAPTER OF THE UNDERGRADUATE CATALOG, 1998-2000


Shelley Payne (microbiology) and Michael Starbird (mathematics) have filed the protest set forth below pertaining to the following catalog changes:

  • Proposed Changes for Degree Requirements in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences Chapter of The Undergraduate Catalog, 1998-2000 (D 203-214).
  • Proposed Changes for Degree Requirements in the School of Biological Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences Chapter of The Undergraduate Catalog, 1998-2000 (D 274-297).
  • Changes for Degree Requirements in the Department of Physics in the College of Natural Sciences Chapter of The Undergraduate Catalog, 1998-2000 (D 307-314).

Also see the related document D 475-476.

The Secretary has classified this protest as exclusive legislation. Notice is hereby given that this protest will be presented to the Faculty Council for action at its meeting on April 17, 2000.



<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The Faculty Council




This legislation was posted on the Faculty Council web site (http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/) on April 11, 2000. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.


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PROTEST TO PROPOSED CHANGES FOR DEGREE REQUIREMENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMISTRY (D 203-214), THE SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (D 274-297), AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS (D 307-314) IN THE COLLEGE OF NATURAL SCIENCES CHAPTER OF THE UNDERGRADUATE CATALOG, 1998-2000

We are protesting the proposed changes in the Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, biology, and physics.

The BS degrees have become increasingly narrow. Students are taking more hours in science at the expense of a broad degree. These latest changes remove much of the foreign language requirement, and students are encouraged to take additional hours in natural sciences or in the specific major. Thus, the proposed language requirement for these degrees is changed from two or three courses in a foreign language to:

Proficiency in a foreign language equivalent to that shown by completion of course 506. This requirement may be fulfilled by credit by examination.

Little or no justification is given for this change, and we fail to see the value of this level of competence in a foreign language. If students are to have any understanding and appreciation of another language and culture, a greater level of exposure to the subject is needed. If the desire is simply to do away with the language requirement, then the educational implications of such a change should be discussed, rather than settling for a compromise that does not appear to serve a sound educational purpose.

No justification is given for the reduction in the foreign language requirement in biology or physics. The justification for the changes in the BS in chemistry indicates that the reduction is due to the increasing demands for expertise in technical areas and increasing students’ marketability.

Justification: Due to the increasing requirements for expertise in the computer sciences and technical areas, the foreign language requirements have been reduced. Students will be required to take more courses that better prepare them for a more technical world.

Justification: By making the Computation Option a part of thestudent's degree program, we are filling the need expressed by many students who want to learn about computing as it applies to their disciplines. It will enable this department to incorporate more computing into its curricula, thereby increasing students’ marketability after graduation.

Thus, the reduction in hours in a foreign language is replaced by increasing hours in natural sciences. The intent of taking more technical courses at the expense of liberal arts courses is reinforced by the following that appears in the chemistry degrees:

14.
Enough additional coursework to make a total of at least 127 semester hours. Students are encouraged to take additional chemistry courses as electives.

The result of this may be to increase students’ marketability in the short term, but we believe that it shortchanges our students in the long term. Our students should have the opportunity to gain a broad education and experience areas outside their major. This is a topic that we should at least consider. We may reasonably debate and decide that a second language is not a critical part of a student’s education, but do we want to eliminate that exposure to the liberal arts in favor of more courses in the major? An alternative would be to allow the students to take additional electives outside the college. We understand the desire to increase the technical competence of our students, but we object to doing so by limiting the students’ exposure to the university experience.

Shelley Payne (microbiology) and Michael Starbird (mathematics).