Framework for the Work

Submitted by admin on Tue, 01/02/2007 - 2:33pm.

Needs for Change

While no statement can capture the richness of the faculty’s discussions on this subject, the DTF has identified four main overlapping areas of concern to faculty. This characterization is not intended as an indictment of existing structures: education at Evergreen has many strengths, and whatever changes the faculty makes must not compromise them.

Envisioning a whole liberal arts education. Many faculty, staff and students see a need for more attention to the progression of students’ learning from their first year through graduation—to gaining both breadth and depth, inculcating the college’s expectations, and moving from foundational to advanced work. Developmental concerns include the availability of offerings at different levels and supporting our great variety of admitted students to succeed.

Strengthening our shared academic identity. Many faculty feel the need to develop our collective understanding of ourselves as a public, interdisciplinary, liberal arts college. This requires more time for reflection, planning, and deliberation: activities that seem essential, for example, to deepen our interdisciplinary practices, to assess the effects of whatever new initiatives we decide to undertake, and to create prime conditions for teaching and learning. Similarly, students need more time to synthesize and reflect on their academic experiences and to have input into curriculum planning. Staff need to be included in reflection and planning to better support the work of the college.

Reinvigorating curricular structures. Many faculty want to expand their teaching horizons. Interests include formation of multi-year theme-driven groups, more inter-area planning, responsiveness to major issues-of-the-moment, deeper connection to local communities, and greater autonomy for new faculty. At the same time, many faculty highly value their affiliation with their planning units and the teaching of repeating programs. We need to support this range of orientations to flexibility and predictability. 

Making the curriculum more intelligible to students, staff and faculty. Many current and prospective students have difficulty understanding what they can study at Evergreen and how the curriculum works. For example, many staff and faculty, while having a good grasp of part of the curriculum, do not have enough understanding of the entire curriculum to effectively advise students. This also affects the ability of faculty to develop a balanced curriculum overall. We need to communicate more transparently about the features of—and how to pursue—one’s education here, including areas of study, pathways, program goals, interdisciplinary learning, and the like. 

Questions to Consider in Assessing Ideas and Proposals

This list is a distillation of specific questions and criteria that faculty have suggested be brought to bear in considering the various ideas and proposals, and draws on the DTF’s charge from the Agenda Committee and Provost. Their purpose is to help faculty see the extent to which a given proposal meets needs for change identified above. No single proposal, of course, can be expected to address all of the questions directly. The DTF welcomes your suggestions about improving the list.  

A. How well does this idea or proposal address students' needs?

  • How does it benefit student education?
  • How does it provide opportunities for both breadth and depth in the course of completing an Evergreen education?
  • How does it strengthen opportunities for integrated learning across disciplines?
  • How does it strengthen opportunities for learning within disciplines?
  • How does it serve needs of students' development, from first-year through graduation, and from beginning to advanced work?
  • How does it support student engagement?
  • Does it allow or enhance student involvement in curriculum planning?
  • How does it maintain the flexibility of choices for students?
  • How would it be comprehendible for students?
  • Does it strengthen linkages among daytime programs, Evening and Weekend Studies, independent learning contracts, and internships?
  • How does it increase the college's appeal to prospective students seeking a liberal arts education?
  • How might it improve student retention?

B. How well does this idea or proposal help us to create and sustain an equitable and diverse community?

  • How does it support attraction and retention of historically marginalized students and faculty?
  • How does it enhance opportunities to learn across significant differences?

C. How well does this idea or proposal address the needs of faculty?

  • How does it support interdisciplinarity among the faculty and in the curriculum?
  • How does it support disciplinarity among the faculty and in the curriculum?
  • How does it enhance opportunities for inquiry-based teaching?
  • How does it enhance interdivisional planning and foster interdivisional collegiality?
  • How does it increase opportunities for engagement by faculty?
  • How does it address issues of scale, including the faculty/student ratio?
  • What would the effect of the proposal be on faculty/student ratio?
  • How does it not increase, or even reduce, faculty workload?
  • How does it maintain the flexibility of choices for faculty?
  • How does it support increased teaching choices for new faculty?
  • How does it generate enough faculty commitment for actual implementation?

D. How well does this idea or proposal address needs of staff?

  • How feasible is it to allocate staff and resources for its implementation?
  • How does it increase opportunities for engagement by staff?

E. Does this idea or proposal address a fundamental need in achieving Evergreen's mission?

  • How does it relate to Evergreen's Strategic Plan?
  • How does it relate to the planning efforts of faculty? Planning Units? Deans?
  • How does it support the six expectations and the five foci?             .