University Studies Program External Review Report Presented by Alan D. DeSantis, Ph.D.

University Studies Program
External Review Report
Presented by Alan D. DeSantis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Communication
Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA
Committee Members
• Alan DeSantis
– Communication
• Tony Hardin
– Theatre
• Jeff Osborn
– Biology
• Jane Peters
– Art
• Bill Rayens
– Statistics
• Jane Wells
– Accounting
The Committee’s Charge
• In early February of 2004, the Committee met
with Professors Nietzel, Kraemer, Ray, and
Yanarella to address the group’s questions and
to detail its goals
• The committee’s charge:
– To generate a series of guidelines that would serve
as an intellectual springboard for a newly formed
Exploration Committee (in 6 months)
• Ideal opportunity to articulate what we believe
the University’s mission and responsibilities
should be to all undergraduates
The Committee’s Plan
• Old Mistakes: Simply adding new
courses or subtracting old ones, without
a firm commitment to such a foundation,
will only produce an increasingly
disconnected, fragmented, and
unsatisfying undergraduate experience
• Towards this end, the committee
generated five core-learning outcomes
that should serve as the guiding
principles in restructuring UK’s
undergraduate mission
Our Five
Core Learning
I. Understand their place and purpose in their world
• Produce both curiosity and knowledge about the world
outside of our Commonwealth’s borders
– Especially important given the pre-college experience of
many of our students
• Answer the pressing questions of “who are they,”
“what are their responsibilities as citizens,” and “how
can they be both committed to an ethical foundation
and sensitive to multicultural differences.”
• Specifically. . .
– To develop their own informed worldview
– Understand their own cultural practice
• Why they do what they do
– Learn about the complexity of their world
I. Understand their place and purpose in their world
Suggested areas for
A) Creative ways in which core
courses can integrate a global
Not just in a token or marginalized
course (cross-cultural requirement)
Global Studies made the effort
B) The committee recommends that
the university earnestly promote and
expand its current Study Abroad
One semester outside the borders of the
United States, preferably in a nonEnglish speaking country
II. Engage in the process of inquiry and reflection
• Inspired by Boyer, we believe that UK has a
unique opportunity to form a symbiotic
relationship between our research agendum
and our undergraduate students
– Neighbor: “What’s special about UK?”
• Encourage faculty to bring their research into
their classrooms where students can be . . .
– inspired by their quest for new knowledge
– informed by the research process
• Specifically . . .
– Create their own “moments of epiphany”
– Foster a life-long spirit of curiosity
II. Engage in the process of inquiry and reflection
• Suggested areas for investigation:
– A) Expanding Freshman Discovery
– B) Expanding Living/Learning Center
– C) Upper-Division Discovery Seminar where
any student, regardless of major, could
explore inquiry-based learning in any of the
three major areas of knowledge
• Encourage civic engagement and improving the
human condition in the Commonwealth (President
Todd’s “Uglies”)
• Effective strategies for bridging the divide that now
exists between students’ USP years and their major
III. Think from multidisciplinary perspectives
• Most American universities force both professors and students into isolated
and myopic departments
– Knowledge becomes awkwardly categorized and divided
– SOC 101, COM 101, PSY 101, etc.
• For bold and creative reform to take place, knowledge must be liberated
from the politics of “departmentalization”
– This spirit is often reflected in our individual research and in our research/grant
• We must stop thinking about specific courses and begin thinking about what
we want our students to learn and how that knowledge can best be
– Many times, the answer to this question comes from multi-disciplinary curriculum
• Specifically . . .
– Synthesize and integrate ideas from multiple disciplines
– Apply theories and methods across multiple disciplines
• The rare student that makes connections
III. Think from multidisciplinary perspectives
• Suggested areas for investigation:
– Our best practices are the “best”
• A. “Ways of Knowing,” “Journeys,”
“Communities,” and “Ecology” courses of
the Modern Studies Program
– Expanding Horizons Program
• B. Social-Science Honors Program
• C. “Space, Place, and Culture” Honors
– Investigate how these programs, that
have targeted only a select group of
students, can be expanded to include
all UK students
IV. Meet the new demands and challenges
of life in the 21st Century
• In many regards, today’s university curricula looks
strikingly similar to that offered a century ago
– This is not to say that the study of classical and
traditional knowledge has become obsolete
• Political, economic, technological, and cultural
changes have placed additional demands on our
• We must give serious consideration to the new types
of knowledge and skills they will need to succeed
• Specifically . . .
– Adapt to new discoveries
• Knowledge and skills
– Evaluate changing ethical principles that are derived
from new technology
• Our ethical discussions have to keep pace
– Live as participatory citizens in a multilingual and
multicultural global village
IV. Meet the new demands and challenges
of life in the 21st Century
• Suggested areas for investigation:
– A) Many individual departments have already
added courses that reflect our changing world
• Global economies, new technologies, & evolving
geopolitical issues
• We need a systematic change in USP
– Syllabi, subject matter, and courses need to be
responsive, not static
– B) Media and visual literacy course
• Older ways of “making sense of the world” are
rapidly becoming inadequate
• Arguments now come in montages of sounds and
– Need a new logic to asses media/images
V. Discover and examine the
ambiguity of human knowledge
• Our most important mission: Our university must embrace the
dictum that, “All ideas, no matter how well entrenched or sacred,
need to be questioned and evaluated”
• This charge is even more important given what students will face
after leaving our University
– Science, theology, business, health, Oprah, Fox News, and MTV
regularly make claims with absolute certainty
• We need to prepare and equip students with the knowledge
and skills needed to evaluate their merits
• Specifically . . .
– Expose their own assumptions to investigation
• Question their previously unchallenged lives
• Then they can reaffirm, reform, or reject
– Question the ideas presented to them in their classes
– Understand different ways of knowing (epistemologies)
V. Discover and examine the
ambiguity of human knowledge
• Suggested areas for investigation:
– Our best teachers have already elegantly
incorporated “critical-thinking skills” into
their classes
– It is our hope that this skill will serve as a
guiding principle and significant criterion
in reshaping USP
• Core courses should foster a free and open
exchange of ideas
– Challenges: Large lecture classes are not
conducive to a Socratic exchange
• The “sage on the stage” model can foster
passive reception
• Technology, creative TA use, pedagogical
training (TLC), etc.
• Older ways of fixing USP are no longer adequate
• USP reform needs to be re-built, from the ground up,
on a foundation of learning outcomes
• We suggest that whatever shape or form our new core
curricula takes, it should enable all students to . . .
I. Understanding their place in their world
II. Engage in the process of inquiry and reflection
III. Think from multidisciplinary perspectives
IV. Meet the new demands of the 21st Century
V. Challenge and question knowledge
Finally, to help facilitate the next
stage of core reform, the committee
suggests the following :
Exploration Committee, however it is constituted or
defined, must engender campus trust and respect
Campus-wide conversations that actively seek
out ideas and opinions from all faculty members
– Participation and consensus is crucial
Strong top-down leadership that can push all of
us out of its inertia and into participatory change
Reward system for faculty who commit time and
energy towards undergraduate reform
A commitment to do no harm to graduate
programs that depend on TAs funded by USP
Realistic and honest levels of funding. “Doing
more with less” is a pedagogical anathema