Consultations Begin on Secondary Areas of Study

November 11, 2009 - Campus Bulletin

A working group charged with reviewing the University’s secondary areas of study is beginning a series of campus-wide consultations this month.

Made up of faculty, staff and students, the group will meet with deans’ councils, department curriculum committees, program counsellors, student government leaders and registrarial staff. It will also consult with alumni.
Group members are gathering information on how to best meet the academic objectives of all secondary areas of study, including minors, areas of emphasis and certificates.

Two town hall meetings are also planned, with the first set for Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 103 of Rozanski Hall. The second will be held in January.

“We thought this was a good way to capture feedback and other points that may not be reflected in our other formal consultations,” says Prof. Serge Desmarais, associate vice-president (academic), who is chairing the group. “We want to ensure that we’re being as thorough and as inclusive as possible.”

The working group was organized last spring after the Board of Undergraduate Studies (BUGS) approved in principle the elimination of minors in the degree programs and then members of Senate suggested additional consultation was required.

Currently, the University offers more than 50 minors, many of which have fewer than 20 students. Overall, fewer than 10 per cent of U of G students are enrolled in a minor. The combination of majors, minors and secondary areas of studies has resulted in a complex curriculum structure with more than 2,500 combinations.

Rather than focusing on minors, the working group is looking at all issues related to secondary areas of study, says Desmarais. This may include examining the pedagogical reasons for secondary areas of study, analyzing the number of students taking minors, and reviewing requirements for minors in specific programs and the curriculums of programs that don’t accommodate secondary study areas.

Other members of the working group are BUGS member Prof. Bill Gardner, Computing and Information Science; Patricia Tersigni, co-ordinator of undergraduate curriculum; Prof. Pablo Ramirez, English and Theatre Studies; Nathan Lachoswky, a CBS student and Central Student Association academic commissioner; Prof. Jonathan Newman, director of the School of Environmental Sciences; Prof. Clare MacMartin, associate dean (academic) of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences; Nancy Schmidt, director of learning and pedagogy initiatives; Allison Webb, an OVC student and student senator; and BA program counsellor Donna Reimer.

The group is scheduled to present a report to BUGS in late March. The report and any subsequent decisions will also be presented to Senate for discussion and decision.

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