Faculty evaluates intercultural requirement

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While the experience outcomes of the Quest program were fully implemented in 2011, the program’s journey has yet to be completed.

Baker University faculty members discussed a proposal to apply the remaining outcomes within the university catalog during the town hall meeting Monday in Mabee Memorial Hall.

Assistant Dean for Liberal Studies Erin Joyce outlined the Liberal Studies Advisory Group’s proposal to implement international or intercultural experience and active experience with the fine and performing arts within the Quest program effective fall 2014.

In the original Quest outline, international travel experience and intercultural experience were separate outcomes. However, after further discussion Joyce and L-SAG proposed combining these requirements.

While Joyce said there are some faculty members who are in favor of requiring all students to travel abroad, and she believes combining both experiences is a good compromise.

“I think now with the resources we have and the constraints that we have, I think it would be very difficult to require every student to travel outside of the United States,” Joyce said.

Joyce believes interterm would be a key time for students to fulfill this requirement as travel interterms could satisfy the international requirement and intercultural interterms could act as a substitute for students who may not have the means or desire to go abroad.

Professor of Music Trilla Lyerla suggested talking to members of the Financial Aid Department about receiving aid to support travel abroad experiences.

“I think that’s really important to students,” Lyerla said. “They’ll never travel as cheaply as they do now.”

According to the proposal, “participating in selected interterm courses, mission trips, military service and teaching experiences” could fit into the intercultural experience category.

Professor of Physics Mahmoud Al-Kofahi said the proposal has “loose” arguments and it needs to make a better effort to make the experience outcomes measurable.

“We need to be clear. The more we are clear, the more it will be easier to digest by students, by their families, by everyone,” Al-Kofahi said. “The less we are clear, the more scary it will be for us.”

Joyce said she is working on developing a list of approved experiences that would fulfill the international or intercultural requirements with the help of Martha Harris, assistant dean for academic affairs.

With these proposed experiences, the university plans to make an effort to increase its marketing of travel interterms and intercultural experiences.

“We think if we could really market to incoming students when they are here on those visit days and we let them know that we have these experiences,” Joyce said. “All students have to do interterm freshman year, perhaps more of them would take advantage of these travel interterms and could easily get this requirement done over interterm.”

Professor of Philosophy Donald Hatcher commended the proposal for its appeal to a variety of potential students.

“One of our strategic goals is to increase enrollment and we want to make it as easy as possible for as many students who are out there to look at us and enroll,” Hatcher said.

In addition to these outcomes, the proposal outlines that students must engage in fine and performing arts experiences. Students could again utilize interterm to fulfill this second proposal. Passing a course in studio art or art history or participating in a music, theater or speech choir performance could also satisfy this requirement.

Joyce and L-SAG plan to talk over the proposal further before bringing it to faculty senate.

Faculty members also discussed a proposal to include pre-requisites in addition to co-requisites as linked courses to the current Quest program. However, members in attendance did not reach a conclusion.