Task force takes on future of academics, Humanities

The future of one of Geneseo's most loved and hated institutions, the Humanities I and II requirement, has recently been under discussion by the college's Task Force on Curriculum Review, a group put in place to discuss possible changes to the core curriculum that all students must complete.

The task force is composed of members from all areas of the Geneseo community, including students, faculty and administration members.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, who chairs the task force, said that no decisions have been made yet. "There are no proposals under consideration at this point," she said. "We are gathering information and receiving feedback."

Discussions about the future of the humanities requirement, however, have been enough to concern one Geneseo professor.

After attending a forum for faculty on Oct. 24, philosophy professor Larry Blackman, who has taught humanities for several years, was "concerned about opinions aired about Western Humanities I and II."

Blackman said that he hopes "a perhaps well-intentioned revision does not in the end amount to a wholesale abandonment…the Humanities requirement has played an important role in the great success that the College has enjoyed in recent years."

According to Linda Shepard, a secretary in the office of the provost, the goal of the task force is to address several issues. These include the question of whether general education requirements serve the needs of Geneseo graduates, and what the relationship is between general education and major requirements and how these two portions effectively work together to provide an excellent education for students.

The task force also seeks to address the issues of what type of "individualized major" responds to the needs of students, what needs to be done to expand interdisciplinary offerings, and what the difference is between the goals and mission of a public versus a private liberal arts college.

These questions led the task force to begin assessing the Humanities requirements. Maria Lima, English professor and member of the task force, said she hopes that, "Humanities [becomes] a [three course] unit, with special funds allocated by the provost's office to retrain the faculty so that we could bring the [non-Western traditions core] into Humanities I, II, and III.

Blackman also addressed the idea of Humanities III, a non-Western course. He is not, however, confident in the ability of professors to teach such material.

"It has been hard enough to find staff that is adequately prepared by their backgrounds and experience to teach the Western Humanities courses, [which] encompass philosophy, history, and literature."

The task force has held forums more than once a month since the beginning of the academic year and welcome comments concerning the humanities core and any other issues related to the current curriculum.

On Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m. in MacVittie College Union Room 322/323, the task force will host a forum in which students can share their views. If students are not able to attend, they are welcome to come to a forum for faculty and staff on Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Welles 121.