21st Century Initiative discussed in open forum

By on November 12, 2013

By: Reagan Sova and Mariah Powers

Students and faculty were critical of the upcoming 21st Century Initiative at the second open forum concerning the subject this past Thursday.

Before approximately 60 U of L administrators, faculty, and students, representatives of three of the five committees working on the initiative made presentations conveying their policy ideas currently under development.  Each speaker then invited questions from the audience following their remarks.

Extensions of learning management systems, a larger online education presence, Wi-Fi expansion and a wider variety of IT infrastructure in emergencies were among the topics discussed at the forum.

Tom Byers, chair of the College of Arts & Sciences faculty assembly, spoke first from the crowd, claiming that the administration had promised a discussion with faculty concerning online education, but that the discussion had not yet taken place.  If measures are adopted without the promised dialogue he said there would be “some pissed off faculty.”

The tension between educational and business-oriented mandates came up during exchanges with the audience.  One audience member bluntly reminded the presenters “a college is not a business;” that its reason for existing is not to accrue profits.

Tracy K’Meyer, chair of the history department, commented that the “vague language” used to indicate the direction of the 21st Century Initiative “is causing a lot of anxiety.”

Christopher Doane, dean of the School of Music and member of the academic and research priorities committee, included a slide in his presentation entitled “academic planning model,” which used a Venn diagram to propose how curriculum and research should be prioritized.  According to the proposal, intersecting areas of “student demand and interest, opportunity for investment, societal need or relevance,” and the degree to which the subject or major was an “emerging area of excellence” should drive academic curriculum.

Byers argued that a fifth circle, the most important one, was missing; the circle in which the university curriculum and research exists to “create, disseminate, and archive knowledge.”

“Where is that circle?” he asked.

The open forum has received so much feedback in the past that it has now developed a fifth committee for student input. This fifth committee will make its first appearance at the next open forum on Nov. 22 in the Chao Auditorium. U of L encourages students to come out and engage with the committees and faculty. Visit Louisville.edu/21stcentury for more information.

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

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