Update from Curriculum Committee

Frances Black ’14
Curriculum Committee Member

This year, the Curriculum Committee has been working on a number of endeavors, most notably two social justice curricular initiatives. The Committee’s first proposal was to create an inventory of all courses that engage with social justice taught at Smith, followed by a proposal to include social justice as a distribution in Latin Honors. After a number of meetings and changes dating back to October, the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP) endorsed the criteria developed by the Curriculum Committee and CAP, which will guide individual faculty in designating their courses for the inventory.

The push for these kinds of proposals stemmed from last year’s student mobilization. After two hate notes were anonymously left under a student’s door, groups of students and faculty called for more emphasis on social justice in Smith’s curriculum as part of a larger list of demands. Several ideas were considered, including a graduation requirement and a Latin Honors requirement. After extensive conversations with students, the Committee pursued an inventory of courses and a Latin Honors requirement.

The inventory, as stated above, will be created by professors, using a criteria developed by students and faculty to discern whether or not a course should meet such a standard. The list will be posted on the college’s website and made available to liberal arts advisers and departments annually. The Latin Honors proposal would require that one out of a student’s seven courses eligible for Latin Honors must also be a course from the inventory; it is not its own category in Latin Honors or an eighth requirement.

The inventory, the first step for any of the ideas discussed, is currently the only change approved by CAP and the faculty, as the Latin Honors proposal has been tabled. Faculty have until May 1 to submit their choice of courses to be included in the inventory.

The Committee will be seeking more student feedback related to both the Latin Honors proposal and whether we should reintroduce it, as well as what other agenda items the Curriculum Committee should pursue. There will be a poll included on the spring ballot and there is currently a series of Wednesday lunches where students and faculty can discuss these issues. We hope to offer more opportunities in the fall to continue this conversation.

The Committee’s chair, Liz Rich, holds office hours each week on Wednesdays from 2:45-4:00 p.m. in the SGA office and is also available by appointment or over e-mail (erich@smith.edu).

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