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3787


DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE PROPOSAL RECOMMENDING THE CONTINUATION AND EXPANSION OF THE BRIDGING DISCIPLINES PROGRAM (BDP) AS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

On behalf of the Educational Policy Committee, Professor Archie Holmes, (electrical and computer engineering and committee chair) submitted the following proposal recommending the continuation and expansion of the Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) as an interdisciplinary certificate program at The University of Texas at Austin.

The secretary has classified this as general legislation. It will be presented to the Faculty Council for discussion at its meeting on March 21, 2005.

<signed>

Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The Faculty Council

 

Posted on the Faculty Council Web site on March 10, 2005. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.


3788


EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE PROPOSAL RECOMMENDING THE CONTINUATION AND EXPANSION OF THE BRIDGING DISCIPLINES PROGRAM (BDP) AS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Motion: The Educational Policy Committee recommends continuation and expansion of the Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) as an interdisciplinary certificate program at The University of Texas at Austin.

Background and Rationale: In the fall of 2004, the provost asked the Educational Policy Committee to review the Bridging Disciplines Program and provide thoughts on it to the Faculty Council. The Educational Policy Committee believes that the BDP is an effective means of guiding students in putting together an interdisciplinary program within the current constraints of degree requirements, staffing, and funding. It is also an effective means of encouraging undergraduate students and faculty to collaborate in research. In addition, it functions as an effective and flexible incubator for interdisciplinary initiatives. The BDP currently serves students with interests in six areas: children and society; cultures and identities; environment; ethics and leadership; population and public policy; and technology and society/digital arts and media. Each of these six areas is directed by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty with appointments in various UT colleges and schools. The faculty panels are overseen by an interdisciplinary faculty Oversight Committee that reports to the vice-provost for undergraduate studies, who fulfills the role of dean for the BDP. Crucial to the success of the BDP are the advising, data gathering, and program evaluation by the staff of Connexus (Connections in Undergraduate Studies), the unit in which the BDP is housed.

To further improve the effectiveness of the Bridging Disciplines Program, the Educational Policy Committee recommends that the following measures be taken to promote the continuation and expansion of the program:

  • Continued funding for the functions of advising, data collection, and program evaluation by the Connexus staff.
  • Increasing funding to the Bridging Disciplines Program as needed to keep pace with growth of the program.
  • Increased publicity, particularly the involvement of faculty advisors and other faculty members in publicizing the programs to students in broadly targeted majors and classes.
  • Increased publicity about how a new BDP program may be started.
  • Expanding the use of the Faculty Steering Committee so that it provides continuous faculty input and long?]term strategic planning for the BDP.
  • While the Educational Policy Committee believes that the BDP is very effective at promoting undergraduate interdisciplinary studies within the constraints of current degree programs, additional types of interdisciplinary programs may be needed. These programs will require innovative approaches to creating interdisciplinary opportunities and may include creating new interdisciplinary units and/or majors, creating incentives for faculty to participate in interdisciplinary education, or hiring new faculty to meet the needs of these programs.