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Santa Barbara City College Great Books Curriculum
Santa Barbara City College
Great Books Curriculum:
2005 - 2006 Year-End Report for FIPSE/NEH National Conference
by Celeste Barber, Great Books Coordinator
Assessment Statistical Report
Where we started: The Great Books Curriculum was introduced to the campus community in Fall 2003, with the approval of the English Department the previous Spring semester. For the first year of implementation, GBC-eligible courses were limited to sophomore literature courses including: Shakespeare, British Literature, American Literature, World Literature, Film and Literature, and Sacred Literature. Participating faculty numbered five plus the GBC coordinator. A total of 8 GBC courses were offered throughout the 2003-2004 academic year.
Where we have come: Beginning Fall 2004, we began offering GBC courses in select sections of Critical Thinking (English 111). As with the sophomore literature GBC selections, participation was voluntary. In spring semester 2005, 9 GBC sections of English 111 were offered including one on-line section. Also beginning with spring semester 2005, 2 sections of "Political Thinking" (Political Science 132) have been offered each semester. By fall 2005, our English 111 offerings were expanded to 12, including the addition of two faculty new to GBC. Every semester, GBC English 111 courses account for about one-third of the total English 111 sections offered. Currently, spring 2006, GBC is offered in 11 sections of English 111, 3 sophomore literature courses, and 2 sections of Political Science 132. A total of ten instructors are currently teaching GBC courses this spring semester, 2006.
I hold one faculty meeting every semester and one orientation meeting at the start of fall semester. Even with this academic year’s faculty stipend, attendance has not improved; the same four or five instructors attend. Scheduling is always a problem, and many of our faculty are over-extended. However, they are informed through e-mail and memos of our progress.
A total of 1,498 students enrolled in GBC-eligible courses: from Fall 2003 through Fall 2005. (Figures are not yet available for the current semester.) Breakdown by semester is as follows:
In anticipation of the development of an assessment test, Melanie Rogers, SBCC’s Research and Assessment Analyst, produced a flow chart that lists the names of all students who have enrolled in GBC courses from its inception (Fall 2003) through Fall 2005. Following the names, the chart also includes: course and section numbers, semester, and grade. Of the 1,498 students who enrolled, 22 students successfully completed three GBC courses and 2 have completed four courses: in a program that has been primarily limited to English classes.
[Please note: These figures were tabulated manually from the flow chart, but the margin of error is minimal. The figures do not take into account students who failed or otherwise did not complete the courses. Also, students who took more than one GBC course in a single semester are counted only the one time in order to more accurately reflect the total number of students enrolled in the GBC program during any given semester.]
Academic Year, 2006-2007: Earlier this semester, I met with representatives from four departments: Theatre Arts, Philosophy, Political Science, and History. The Dean, Dr. Jack Ullom, was in attendance. Since that meeting, each of the four departments met to discuss the feasibility of offering GBC courses. Theatre Arts will offer both sequences of "Development of Drama" effective fall semester, 2006. Philosophy will offer a total of 14 sections effective fall semester, 2006: "Introduction to Philosophy' (5 sections); "Introduction to Ethics" (5 sections); "Comparative World Religions" (2 sections); "History of Philosophy" (Early / 1 section), and "History of Philosophy" (Modern, 1 section). Political Science will continue to offer 2 sections of "Political Thinking" as they have done for the past 3 semesters. Both Political Science and History are enthusiastic; however, both departments have raised legitimate concerns regarding their ability to meet the required 50% Core Authors readings. Certainly, their concerns are not unexpected - both disciplines rely heavily on secondary source instructional materials -- but the problem is not insurmountable. To that end, I have requested sample course syllabi and reading lists from our sister colleges participating in the Great Books Curriculum.
GBC Course Offerings, Fall Semester 2006 (34 sections / 18 instructors)
Ongoing Outreach: Fall semester, 2006, we will schedule meetings with English Skills, Mathematics, and the Sciences. In anticipation of those meetings, I have already shared course materials from Arapahoe College with a senior member of the Math Department and await his response. I have also submitted a request to present a GBC orientation workshop for SBCC faculty and support staff (counselors). The 2-hour workshop will be offered for FLEX-credit just prior to the start of fall semester, 2006, during the regular week of campus FLEX meetings.
It must also be noted that there will always be a lag time between the introduction of a GBC course and its final official approval (i.e., transcript identification). In the California community college system, all new courses must first be submitted to and approved by the college Curriculum Advisory Committee. This would hold true equally for existing courses that may be offered as GBC (i.e., Critical Thinking, American Literature) as well as for newly proposed courses (i.e., Latin American Literature). Upon CAC approval, the credit course outlines are then routed to the college Transfer Counselor who, in turn, submits the documents to three state-level committees: University of California (UCAL); California State University (CSU), and IGETSE (UCAL and CSU). The Curriculum Advisory Committee accepts applications twice yearly, so the time from submission to full approval and official designation in the college catalogue could be 1 1/2 to 2 years.
Currently, all English 111 courses and English literature courses offered as GB have received CAC approval; they have not yet received UCAL or CSU approval. As we extend GBC to other disciplines, the one to two year lag-time will continue. Thus, even as students complete the program satisfactorily (four or more GBC courses) and earn their certificates of completion, not all students will realize this accomplishment on the official school transcripts.
On-going GBC Projects: The Web-site is now complete, including the ability to input data. The web-site will be fully operational prior to the start of fall semester 2006. Over summer, we will commence work on the website: providing photos and data to the faculty web page; entering the fall semester course offerings and advertising GBC events. Of highest priority, to begin work on the Core Authors listings. For this, I will solicit the GBC faculty, asking for volunteers to contribute data for authors within their particular specialty. We also expect to have authoritative Internet links available to our students (i.e., the Gutenberg Project).
Three members of the English Department faculty developed five course modules under the NEH grant. Professor Ann Wilkinson wrote two: Critical Thinking and Shakespeare. Professor Jim Stevens wrote one: British Literature. Professor Terre Ouwehand wrote two for her courses in Sacred Literature. The course modules will be included on the National Great Books Website.
The second ongoing project is the development of an assessment test. Earlier this semester, Dr. Ullom and I met with Melanie Rogers from the Department of Assessment, Research and Planning. Shortly after Melanie completed the flow chart, I contacted Gail Tennen, a senior member of our English Skills faculty who also created the assessment test we use at City College. Gail is a professional in the field of assessment testing and has developed tests in use at SBCC and commissioned for other institutions. (Unlike other states, California requires its own method of assessment testing, and so we are limited in ways that our sister colleges might not be.) However, City College is fortunate to have Gail’s services: the Santa Barbara City College assessment test is highly regarded in the field, so much so, that SBCC’s test is lauded statewide. Prior to the conclusion of spring semester, the committee will meet to discuss the possibility of using our existing in-house assessment test or perhaps creating a new one to suit our particular needs. The committee will include the dean, the statistician, Gail Tennen, and the GBC coordinator. Assessment testing is expensive, and our challenge is to develop a test that will serve our needs as a growing program and with minimal cost.
GBC’s student outreach will continue to be a priority. Every semester, student support services receives our flyers and informational literature. The recipients include: Academic Counseling, Athletics, EOPS, and DSPS (Disabled Students Programs and Services). This semester, I was invited by the director of TAP (Transfer Achievement Program) to address their students at a noon meeting and distribute flyers. TAP serves the same population that GBC hopes to attract: the non-traditional student whose goal is to transfer to a four-year institution.
The meeting with TAP was a success in two important ways. First, that we communicated to TAP students that GBC is designed especially for them and that the Great Books are for all students, not a select few. Secondly, through GBC’s partnership, TAP has announced that students will be awarded full book scholarships for every GBC course that they enroll in. I have asked to submit an article to the TAP newsletter, and one will appear in Fall 2006. This is an exciting partnership. Furthermore, our partnership with TAP may aid in bringing around the naysayers among us that resist the return of Great Books to the regular college curricula.
City College’s GBC program also sponsors lectures and workshops every semester. These events, open to all students and faculty, advertise the program and promote goodwill; this is an important consideration because it has continued to be difficult to sell the notion that our mission includes extending the Great Books specifically to the historically marginalized segment of the student population, not simply the honors or humanities student. Because many of our students are working toward the transfer degree, GBC invites guest lecturers from the area four-year institutions in order to foster our connections with these schools. Last semester, Professor Richard Hecht, Religious Studies UC Santa Barbara, gave a lecture on Spinoza. Prior semesters, we heard lectures on Hamlet’s Ophelia and The Odyssey’s Penelope. Spring 2005, we were treated to a multi-media dramatization of Walt Whitman’s life, scripted with the poet’s words only. Scheduled for fall semester, 2006, is a dramatization of Emily Dickinson’s life, a play scripted by a member of the English Department faculty, David Starkey (also, our newest member to the GBC faculty). The play may also allow us to offer other events in recognition of Emily Dickinson. Under consideration are: readings of her poetry in the school library, a student symposium on American female poets (including multi-cultural as well as Core Authors), and encouragement department-wide to include Dickinson’s poetry on the reading list for all levels of English including remedial.
For each of the past three semesters, GBC has sponsored a Teachers Workshop, inviting UC Santa Barbara’s premiere Shakespearean scholar, Professor Emeritus, Homer Swander. Professor Swander is a lifelong student of Shakespeare and founder of the acclaimed Actors from the London Stage troupe. Our faculty has enjoyed his unique textual analysis of Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and just last month, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This semester, Professor Swander extended his discussion to the classroom arena, visiting two GBC English classes. Again, such workshops invite members of the faculty outside GBC and so, it is hoped, invite them to join the program.
Funding and Maintenance: With the conclusion of the FIPSE and NEH grants, it is imperative that the Great Books Curriculum secures funding sources at the local level. Specifically, funding for 1) clerical support, 2) ongoing operations, 3) the coordinator’s stipend. To that end, we are requesting a work study student to assist with clerical duties beginning fall semester, 2006. The Faculty Resource Center has agreed to maintain the GBC web-site. For ongoing operating expenses (photocopying, lectures and symposiums, faculty meetings and outreach, etc.,), we will present a proposal to the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College, a philanthropic organization that raises funds to support college programs. The dean and I are scheduling an appointment with the college president to discuss this proposal. I have also contacted the committee chair responsible for approving faculty requests for assigned time: this would be the appropriate avenue through which to secure ongoing funding (stipend) for the coordinator’s position. Although the deadline has passed for applications for the 2006-07 academic year, the committee chair has agreed to meet with me prior to the close of this semester.
Furthermore, collaborative projects with organizations outside the college can also prove beneficial, in ways other than monetary awards. Collaborative work will allow the expenses to be shared, as well as offer GBC immeasurable publicity and public exposure. I expect to contact the local Border’s Bookstore for readings and book displays highlighting select GBC authors (and so publicizing specific SBCC events, like the proposed Emily Dickinson). Also, there are two local museums, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Karpeles Museum (a manuscript museum). Both museums would be fine partners for specific projects, and also serve to introduce our students to the various cultural venues available to them - usually at no or minimal cost - in downtown Santa Barbara.
One significant weakness is my inability to attract faculty support for the regular operations of the program. Especially now that SBCC’s GBC has expanded to include disciplines beyond English - and will continue to expand - it is vital that the program is strengthened through collaborative effort. This is a high priority for next year.
I believe that funding for local GBC programs requires local support, in order to maintain a viable and expanding program. However, continued funding nationally should be given the highest priority. One: Annual national meetings are important in order to share our respective experiences. There are no other programs like the GBC available to community colleges nationally. As such, the program must have the ability to schedule meetings between the partner colleges and the program’s advisors. Two: Each of the partner colleges should have the ability to present the program to its neighboring two-year institutions. There are four community colleges within a fifty-mile radius from Santa Barbara; realistically, however, expanding the program beyond the college can only be justified through outside and ongoing financial support.
In closing, an unexpected dividend. The Great Books Curriculum has served to invigorate this campus, functioning as a catalyst for the development of thematic courses as well as linkage with departments across various disciplines and fields, including into administrative student services. I believe that programs like the Great Books Curriculum can revitalize our campuses in creative ways, even in times of dwindling funding and greater demands.