Task Force suggests humanities change

In a meeting held on Oct. 22, the Task Force on Curriculum Reviewcontinued a more in-depth discussion of potential changes for the currentHumanities program. **

Still, more discussion is needed. "We are not actually at the point where we are recommending any changes," said Polly Radosh, dean of the college.

According to the task force's meeting's minutes, two proposals, one from professor Robert Owens and another from professors Tze-ki Hon, Carlo Filice and Maria Lima, were thoroughly discussed.

The common incentive for change is a desire to include "non-Western" perspectives in the Humanities program.

"The provost indicated that the task force would issue a recommendation for the inclusion of a non-Western component in our Humanities sequence," said English professor Ken Asher after meeting with Provost Katherine Conway-Turner on Nov. 20. "This recommendation would very likely mention whether this should be done in the current two semester format or a new three semester format. There would be nothing like a suggested syllabus attached, nor recommendations for any specific works."

Professor Owens' proposal, according to the Task Force minutes, "took Humanities proposals and multiple models blending those things together to deal with making informed decisions in the 21st century." Owens' proposal would call for increasing Humanities to 21 credits and limiting it to three departments. Finally, Owen called to include a capstone course, though the minutes acknowledge that this would be difficult with a "menu system."

The detailed proposal set forth by Hon, Filice, and Lima is under consideration. This proposition splits the Humanities requirement into three semesters instead of two.

The first semester, according to the proposal, is built around a goal of "comparing … the agrarian civilization built on river valley and the maritime civilization based on oceanic trade." Contents of this semester would include Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and China. Proposed texts include, among others, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Plato's Republic, selections of the Upanishads/Vedas, Confucius' Analects, and a Greek tragedy.

The second semester of the proposal "examines how Euro-Asia and Africa were interconnected through continuous cultural and economic interactions," with texts including, among others, The Bible, the Quran, selections from Dante's Inferno or Boccaccio's Decameron, selected Renaissance texts, and India's Laws of Manu.

The final semester of the proposal "examines capitalism as a modern form of production and accumulation." The proposal lists various text choices exploring early capitalism, imperialistic capitalism, critiques of capitalism, genocides and atrocities, and monetary capitalism.

Reaction to the proposal has been split and heated. "The Humanities program here is part of what makes Geneseo a great liberal arts college," said professor Stacey Edgar. "Do not tamper with one of the best things we have done with our core in order to accomplish new goals."

Freshman Angela Petracca agreed, noting no "justification for removing material from the existing setup."

Professor Paul Schacht said he would advocate, "broadening our humanities syllabus to include non-Western works."

Senior Seth Palmer, a member of the task force, and freshman Kim Hall also expressed interest in a non-Western component to the Humanities program.

Students are encouraged to jump into the discussion through the online forum at wiki.geneseo.edu by looking for the "General Education" link on the left side of the page and then proceeding to "Public Discussions."

**Editor's note: The changes to the Humanities curriculum discussed in thisarticle are only in the first stages of consideration. The Task Force hasnot yet submitted any proposals to the college.