This spring, residential college seminars may seem all too familiar to some students.
Students will have the option to enroll in popular seminars offered in the last two to three years next semester but no new ones will be available. The review committee is still unsure of how students will apply to and enroll in the seminars this spring or if each residential college will have one, said John Rogers, English professor and committee chair. But next fall, the committee charged with reviewing the college seminar program hopes to propose a new process to offer courses through the colleges.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller told the News in August that the residential college seminar program would undergo a “periodic review,” scheduled once per decade, starting in September. Proposals for spring 2011 seminars would not be accepted until further notice. Last Wednesday, Miller confirmed that seminars will be offered this spring on the recommendation of the college seminar review committee.
The committee’s first charge was to decide if and how to offer courses in the spring semester, Miller said Sunday. From here, she said, the committee will have to determine how best to institute the new seminars.
Because much of the committee’s work involves reexamining and possibly changing the way seminars are conceived and offered, Rogers said it would not have been possible to go through the normal process of selecting college seminars for the coming semester.
“Starting in the fall, we will review a much heartier selection of college seminars,” he said.
Rogers said the committee hopes it will have one seminar for every college this spring and that seminars will likely meet in the colleges. Rogers said he could not say for sure if preference for the seminars will be given to students in the hosting residential college.
Logistical problems could arise as administrators try to arrange seminars on short notice, he said, and this might mean fewer than 12 seminars will be available this spring. Instructors sometimes pull out of seminars last minute, he said, and for these reasons, the review committee does not yet know which classes will be offered in the spring. Rogers said he hopes the list will be finalized in December.
“Every year there are some seminars that are so popular that instructors will come back another year to teach that class,” he added.
Rogers said the current process for selecting college seminars is complicated and time-consuming. Rogers said he and the committee hope to make it more efficient and friendlier to students, and that the committee’s final proposals could potentially initiate sweeping changes in the seminar process, though he could not yet comment on what changes might be. The approval process, which must pass through the Course of Study Committee, will not change, he said.
We’re deep in our exploration of all those aspects of the program that can be improved,” Rogers said.
He added that regardless of what changes are made, student involvement will continue to be a key component of the process.
The college seminar review committee, which meets every two weeks, consists of deans from the Yale College Dean’s Office, residential college deans, two masters, three undergraduates and a graduate student.
Sophomore Class Council chair Omar Njie ’13, who serves on the committee, said he was not at liberty to discuss the committee’s work deferring comment to faculty and deans serving on the committee.
Erin Biel ’13, the director of the Ezra Stiles College seminar committee, said she had not heard any updates on the seminar reform process since the summer, when outgoing college seminar program director Catherine Suttle sent an e-mail to all residential college committees saying that the committees would not be interviewing candidates for the spring or fall 2011 terms. “I think the program is fantastic, and there’s not much I would change,” Biel said. “I only know so much about it and have heard only positive responses from college seminar experiences, so I’d like to know how [they] could be improved upon.”
Residential college seminars began at Yale 41 years ago and were last reviewedin 2001.