What you missed at the town hall

Members of the CARS committee Wednesday answered questions about three academic restructuring plans. Adam Jaffe, Dean of the Arts and Sciences and CARS chair, said the following changes are being planned: new general requirements starting for the class of 2014, a new Business Major, a new Media, Communications, and Society Major, and the “Justice Brandeis Semester”. Some highlights of the responses they gave for each program are after the cut.

New Majors

Most questions about the two new majors revolved around the Business Department. Responding to concerns over whether the social justice component would remain in the Business major, Ben Gomes-Casseres, Business Department chair, said the major’s core courses would include social context and ethical dilemmas as a part of the discipline. Gomes-Casseres also said there is a “business and society” track majors can choose which will have fewer courses on finance and administration. He also stressed that the major will be integrated into the liberal arts, which he said would make it different from other business majors.

“People who want to take 20 courses [of just business] will not like this program,” Gomes-Casseres said. “[This program will draw a] different population from those who go to business administration.”

When asked if current students could major in Business once it’s set up, committee members said it was hard to say, and that the major will probably not up and running until 2010.

As for the Media, Communications, and Society Major, Journalism Program Director Maura Jane Farrelly said the current Journalism Minor would be included in one of the tracks for the new major, and that two of the other tracks will not have the same requirements as the journalism track.

The Justice Brandeis Semester

Starting with the class of 2014, this program will require all students to devote one of their eight required terms to one of four experiential learning options: study abroad, intensive summer programs, fall/spring programs for groups of fifteen to twenty students supervised by an adviser, and a one-on-one solo project with an adviser. It is the committee’s intention to pilot this program as soon as summer 2010. There might be an opportunity then for any existing students to enroll.

The summer programs will last 10 weeks and are distinct from the existing summer school, which will continue. Committee members said the summer program will help midyears accelerate their study so they can graduate with their class. Midyears will not be required to take eight semesters to graduate. In response to inquiries on whether other students could graduate early using the Justice Brandeis Semester, committee members balked and said the overall goal of the program is not to take semester off or graduate early.

Financial aid during this experiential learning semester will be available normally, though adjusted due to reduced tuition costs. Though scholarships are available during the summer, using scholarships three semesters in a row might be problematic. Committee members did not detail these problems but said they would try to “figure it out”.

This new program will also open summer study abroad to Brandeis financial aid. Jaffe said that many study abroad programs will count for financial aid, but not all.

Jaffe stressed that the faculty will already be working more, with the student population increasing by 400 and the faculty population decreasing by 10%. Though he said that the experiential learning commitments would aggravate that problem, the committee has no sense of how much.

In response to concerns that requiring eight semesters of attendance would turn off prospective students, Jaffe said it is not uncommon for the university’s peers to also require eight semesters. He stressed the importance of making the program mandatory, since it’s difficult to allocate resources to an optional program when it’s unknown how many students will commit to it. However, Jaffe did project that several hundred students will choose the study abroad option.

Other Points

Jaffe said the 400 student increase will generate something over 6 million dollars a year in additional revenue, and that these new academic programs should draw more applicants so as to not compromise selectivity.

“The creation of this program will be part of the arrows to put in admissions’ quiver,” said Jaffe. “…The alternative is to reach balance through cuts, which we don’t want to do. Don’t think it’s possible to bring that extra 100 [students] without doing extra things.”

He also said that CARS is still preparing cost analysis for the creation of these new programs. Jaffe said the Justice Brandeis Semester and Communications Major will have to be accommodated within the 5 million dollar reduction of faculty expenditures. The Business Department, however, which has different kinds of courses, will be funded out of proceeds of additional revenue.


2 thoughts on “What you missed at the town hall”

  1. you wrote:

    “Adam Jaffe, Dean of the Arts and Sciences and CARS chair, said the following changes will definitely take place”

    I don’t know what Adam actually said, but those changes aren’t anywhere close to definite. If you read the committee reports (look at https://secureweb.brandeis.edu/transformation/ ) it should be obvious those proposals are not even sufficiently firm to be voted upon, much less implemented.

    I think there are some excellent ideas being discussed, and I hope many will become reality, but it’s premature to conclude that they will be implemented in anything like the currently proposed form.

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