Faculty to vote on Weinberg 300-level distros change

Amy Hamblin

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences faculty will vote Wednesday on a proposal to allow 300-level classes to fulfill distribution requirements and to create two new minors.

But action will be delayed on the controversial issue of limiting the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits that can be counted toward degree requirements. Weinberg administrators need more time to coordinate a possible policy change with other undergraduate schools, said Craig Bina, Weinberg’s outgoing associate dean for undergraduate studies.

Mary Finn, an assistant dean for curriculum, said faculty were receptive to the proposal to extend distribution selection to include 300-level classes. She could not speculate about whether it would pass but she said students supported it.

As it stands, students only can apply 100- and 200-level courses for distribution requirements. Bina said faculty could discuss whether departments should have the discretion to apply any new policy.

“I think that some departments are afraid that inexperienced freshmen will rush into their advanced 300-level courses if they count as distros,” Bina wrote in an e-mail to The Daily on Tuesday. “I think that reasonable use of prerequisites can ensure that only properly experienced students can register for advanced courses.”

Generally, proposals receive two readings before faculty vote on them. Wednesday will be the second time faculty have reviewed and discussed the distribution change proposal.

But more contentious proposals do not always follow the two-reading model. Bina will be making a motion to postpone further discussion of the AP proposal until next academic year.

“(University Provost Lawrence Dumas) asked me to postpone action on this AP proposal, so that he can discuss it with the deans of all six undergraduate schools first,” Bina wrote. “I have asked the Curricular Policies Committee about this and nobody has objected.”

At the meeting, two less-controversial proposals concerning interdisciplinary minors likely will be approved and students could declare them as early as next quarter, Bina told The Daily on Tuesday.

Minors in environmental policy and culture and global health studies will draw on existing classes for their curriculum, likely redesignating a few classes in other departments as part of the proposed programs of study, Bina said.

“It’s definitely a student initiative,” said political science Prof. Paul Friesema, who is presenting the proposal. “There wasn’t much opposition.”

Members of Associated Student Government and Students for Ecological and Environmental Development urged administrators to create a minor that looked at environmental issues from a social science perspective about two years ago, Friesema said.

Demand for interdisciplinary minors, such as Asian American Studies and Legal Studies, is often an issue, Bina said.

But anthropology Prof. William Leonard, who is sponsoring the proposed Global Health Studies minor, said he is not concerned about the program attracting enough student interest.

“The demand is beyond the capacity for international health policy,” Leonard said. “Most students who took the class expressed interest in this type of curriculum.”