Senior Yale professors will vote today on three of the most sweeping proposals in April’s undergraduate curricular review, the University’s first comprehensive academic review in over 30 years.
The faculty will vote on three motions on the Committee on Yale College Education’s recommendations to change the distributional group and foreign language requirements. The reforms will go into effect beginning with the Class of 2009, if they are approved by a majority of the ladder faculty at today’s 4 p.m. faculty meeting in Connecticut Hall.
Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who chaired the 41-member professor and student academic review committee, said he expects a larger-than-usual turnout at this month’s faculty meeting. He said this is because the proposals being voted on — in particular the proposed change in the foreign language requirement — are contentious.
“These are the [main recommendations] that need faculty endorsement,” Brodhead said. “There was sustained controversy [surrounding] the proposed foreign language requirement — I’m hopeful that the recommendations will be endorsed, but the faculty will have its way. We’ll wait and see.”
The first motion centers on changes in the undergraduate distributional group requirements. The committee recommended that students be required to take two courses each in the humanities and arts, social sciences and natural sciences. It also recommended requiring students to take two courses focusing on writing skills and two on quantitative reasoning.
If passed, the committee’s second motion will allow Brodhead to appoint faculty councils to classify courses in distributional groups on an individual basis. Currently, courses are assigned to distributional groups according to the course professor’s appointed department.
The committee’s final motion, which Brodhead said will be its most contentious, recommends changes to the foreign language requirement. The proposal requires all students to take at least one term of foreign language study, regardless of proficiency. It also decreased the foreign language requirement for students who do not meet proficiency from four to three semesters.
This recommendation has been met with controversy from many language professors who claim the decrease in the requirement would leave students entering without proficiency with an insufficient amount of classroom instruction.
Bailyn said he expects a positive vote on the distributional group changes, but said the language proposal could “go any way.”
“It’s hard to tell,” Bailyn said. “There’s a strong case to be made for it, but I think there’s a strong case to be made against it.”
Graduate School Dean and committee member Peter Salovey said despite the controversy surrounding the foreign language requirement, he expects the faculty will endorse the committee’s proposals.
“I think the proposals reflect a considerable amount of well-reasoned thought with an extensive consultation process, so I would hope that the faculty would find these proposals in general to their liking,” Salovey said.
The committee will vote on its proposal regarding the Credit/D/Fail policy — changing the policy so students could take any four courses Credit/D/Fail during their Yale careers, but not to satisfy distributional requirements — at the December faculty meeting, Brodhead said.