An ongoing review University Studies this year will examine possible restructuring and of some curricular and administrative aspects of the program. While the committee charged with reviewing the program is still tossing around ideas, some proposed changes include the incorporation of international studies into classes and the possibility of University Studies becoming its own department.
Adopted in 1994, University Studies “has become a signature feature of PSU,” said Cynthia Brown, head of the review committee and professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science. The program has been recognized by US World and News Report and ranked fourth in the nation.
The review committee believes it to be in the best interest of the school to “just look at the existing system,” Brown said, not to go “all the way back to square one.”
While no changes have been made official yet, there are a handful of issues that the review committee is currently tackling. One goal is looking at how better to bring an international perspective to all students, whether on campus or studying abroad.
“You can’t operate solely in a local environment,” Brown said, “you need a global perspective.”
For this reason, the University Studies Review Board is considering integrating international issues into a variety of classes. The goal would be to alter the sophomore inquiry and junior cluster sections of University Studies course offerings to provide students with classes that would make them more engaged with the world around them.
The review committee is also considering changing the freshman inquiry from a five-credit course to a four-credit course to better accomodate non-resident students trying to take eight credits or less to maintain in-state tuition.
Also under consideration, Brown said, is the desire to “balance out competing interests.” “A lot of departments have developed around these requirements; we need to think about the impact on them,” she said. While accommodating these departments is extremely important, so is finalizing decisions within the committee.
“Ten years after the program has begun,” review board co-chair Ken Petterson said, we are “trying to invigorate the best of the departments involved.”
The committee will make final recommendations before the faculty senate by April of 2006.
Given that US News and World Report gave credit primarily to the freshman inquiry and senior capstone, Petterson commented that the PSU curriculum would not have ranked so well without the University Studies requirements being integrated into the curriculum.
According to Brown, it is very important to the committee for it to be “an open process.” The committee welcomes any feedback from students and faculty as well as alumni.
A public web site, http://unstreview.groups.pdx.edu, posts meeting minutes and includes a discussion board.