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Vice Provost Lucia Gilbert has filed with the secretary of the Faculty Council the following proposed addition of the Bridging Disciplines Programs of Connexus in The University chapter in The Undergraduate Catalog, 2004-2006. The vice provost approved the proposed addition on February 12, 2004 and submitted the changes to the secretary on February 13, 2004. The secretary has classified this proposal as general legislation.

The edited proposal was received from the Office of Official Publications on April 26, 2004, and was sent to the Committee on Undergraduate Degree Program Review from the Office of the General Faculty on April 26, 2004. The committee forwarded the proposed changes to the Office of the General Faculty on May 4, 2004, recommending approval. The authority to grant final approval on behalf of the General Faculty resides with the Faculty Council.

If no objection is filed with the Office of the General Faculty by the date specified below, the legislation will be held to have been approved by the Faculty Council. If objection is filed within the prescribed period, the legislation will be presented to the Faculty Council at its next meeting. The objection, with reasons, must be signed by a member of the Faculty Council.

To be counted, a protest must be received in the Office of the General Faculty by noon on May 13, 2004.


Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The Faculty Council

This legislation was posted on the Faculty Council Web site ( on May 5, 2004. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.



In The University chapter of The Undergraduate Catalog, 2002-2004, under the heading ACADEMIC ADVISING after the section MULTIPLE DEGREES, add the following:


The Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs) are designed to complement a student’s departmental major with an interdisciplinary specialization in one of the following areas: children and society; environment; ethics and leadership; population and public policy; public cultures; and technology and society. Students are encouraged to use the BDP theme to select and integrate degree requirements; to this end, courses taken to fulfill general education requirements may also count toward a BDP. Courses are drawn from disciplines across campus, including communication, liberal arts, natural sciences, business, and fine arts. Participation in faculty research and community internships is also central to the design of the Bridging Disciplines Programs.

The BDP initiative is administered by Connexus: Connections in Undergraduate Studies. While Bridging Disciplines Programs are open to undergraduates in all colleges and departments, interested students are encouraged to contact a Connexus adviser to discuss how the Bridging Disciplines Program will fit into specific degree plans.

Each BDP is guided by a multidisciplinary faculty panel that sets policy, approves courses, and selects students. Admission to the Bridging Disciplines Programs is by application. Students must submit an application essay and a proposed program of work, which are reviewed by the faculty panel. Students who complete the requirements listed below will receive a certificate upon graduation.

The student must

1. Complete the requirements of a departmental major or the equivalent.

2. Complete nineteen to twenty-four semester hours of coursework, consisting of
a. Forum/Freshman Seminar 118, Forum Seminar Series.
b. Three to six hours of foundation coursework prescribed by the BDP faculty panel.
c. Six to nine hours of coursework chosen from a list approved by the BDP faculty panel. Courses that are not on the list may be used with the consent of the faculty panel chair.
d. Six to nine hours of approved research or internship coursework related to the BDP theme and the major.

The purpose of this new set of programs is to provide undergraduate students with an organized means to traverse boundaries between colleges and disciplines and to involve them in undergraduate research in an integrated and coherent fashion.

REMARKS: The Bridging Disciplines Programs were established by the provost about two years ago in response to the felt need to encourage interdisciplinary undergraduate studies that extend beyond the boundaries of a single college and that could complement a student's major. These programs, which are designed in close collaboration with the University's colleges and schools are coordinated through Connexus and are directed by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Since the programs are already in existence, the immediate question before the Faculty Council is inclusion of this description in the catalog. Our committee recommends that this addition be approved as a valuable means of advertising these programs to students.


In some sense however, there is something strikingly new here. So far as we know, this certificate is the first recognition of academic achievement (other than a University honor) in the history of the University that does not come from a college. It seems to us that such a departure calls for deliberations about the future implications. We hasten to emphasize that we are in no way expressing dissatisfaction with the manner in which the programs have been administered or the quality of faculty participation nor do we have any doubt of the increasing need for interdisciplinary studies. The provost has very properly recognized this need and has provided for it in a practical way with a branch of his office. Indeed, there is much sense in the argument that administration and supervision of interdisciplinary work between different colleges must necessarily not be in a college. However, note that in the case of graduate work the Graduate School provides an administrative umbrella.

Because we anticipate that there will be much more interdisciplinary work in the future the question of how to administer it has practical as well as philosophical importance. In particular, there is much discussion of Statistics (necessarily interdisciplinary, at least at this University). It appears that this discussion primarily is concentrated on issues of faculty and graduate work. There might be much more consideration of the implications for undergraduate study if there were a single academic home for the general supervision of undergraduate interdisciplinary work.

Perhaps Connexus, housed in the Office of the Provost, should become such a home. Or maybe Connexus should become a branch of a more general academic structure (college or institute)? Or maybe we should continue to deal with things like this on an ad hoc basis. (Note that Statistics is currently being dealt with independently from the Bridging Disciplines Programs, at least to our knowledge.) Because of the important philosophical and practical implications, it seems to us that this issue should be discussed by the Faculty Council. Certainly it is too late to engage in such a discussion this year, but we hope for such a discussion next year.