The Core Curriculum Committee Structure, Duties, and Policies document approved by Academic Council on September 18, 2017, established a new, university-level committee that will oversee Notre Dame's core curriculum, supported by subcommittees of domain experts and stakeholders that will formulate and enact procedures for course approval in each "Way of Knowing." These structural changes follow the recommendations of the Core Curriculum Review Committee final report, which was accepted by the Academic Council on November 7, 2016, following more than two years of research, careful deliberation, and consultation with stakeholders from across the campus community.
The Core Curriculum Committee (CCC) consists of the elected chairs of such core curriculum subcommittees as the CCC may form (described in Section III below), the deans of the colleges or schools offering undergraduate degrees (or their delegates), the Academic Commissioner of Student Government, and up to three faculty members appointed by the Provost to achieve appropriate representation. An additional faculty member appointed to a three-year term by the Provost serves as chair of the committee. Faculty membership of this committee shall be selected from the tenured and tenure-track and special professional faculty. There are two non-voting members: an Associate Provost designated by the Provost, and the University Registrar (or a delegate).
The CCC is the body concerned with the Core Curriculum as a whole. Its specific responsibilities are the following:
A. Seek Ways to Enhance Learning in the Core Curriculum:
The committee will be concerned with ensuring that the Core Curriculum functions well and enhances student learning. It will promote the creation of new courses, foster excellence of instruction in new and existing courses, advocate for the needs of faculty and students in them, and generate proposals to improve teaching and learning in these courses, such as proposals for interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary courses, innovative approaches to teaching, or more effective use of faculty resources. In this capacity, the CCC will make recommendations as appropriate to the Academic Council, the Provost, the deans, the faculty, or other relevant units or individuals.
B. Promote General Education at the University:
The committee will serve as a clearinghouse for information about General Education and the Core Curriculum at the University. It will provide communication materials explaining the Core Curriculum to faculty, students, and the public. The committee will provide a single point of contact for faculty regarding the approval of new Core courses, including uniform deadlines and submission processes.
C. Resolve Lack of Consensus within a Core Curriculum Subcommittee (CCS):
As described in more detail below, if a CCS fails to come to unanimous agreement on a course proposal after iteration with the instructor and intervention from the CCC chair, the CCC will consider the course and the differing opinions within the CCS. In this case, the CCC can approve the course with a two-thirds majority. If this threshold is not reached, the course is not approved.
D. Hear Appeals of Proposals to Core Curriculum Subcommittees:
If a faculty member proposes a course to a CCS and the subcommittee’s final judgment is negative, the faculty member may appeal to the Core Curriculum Committee. The CCC will consider the written judgment of the CCS, the faculty member’s response, and may consult the CCS and the faculty member further. The CCC may, by a two-thirds majority vote, sustain the appeal of the faculty member.
E. Approval of Credit for Core Requirements for Courses Taught at Other Institutions:
The CCC should recommend procedures and guidelines for approving courses for credit for core requirements which are taught at other institutions, as is necessary in the case of transfer students and participants in foreign study programs. It should work with the various CCSs, and, where appropriate, the Colleges and Schools, to establish guidelines and procedures that are clear, fair, and consistent.
F. Audit Course Approvals from the CCSs:
Each CCS should provide a report each semester to the CCC on the courses that have been approved or rejected for inclusion in the Core Curriculum. The CCC should review these reports as part of the overall effort to collect information on the functioning of the Core Curriculum and to monitor trends in course proposals.
G. Establish Metrics to Measure the Impact of the Core Curriculum:
The CCC should examine and implement appropriate metrics to evaluate the success of instruction within the Core Curriculum. Results from these metrics should be included in the Annual Report described below.
H. Submit Annual Report to the Provost’s Office:
Each year the Core Curriculum Committee will submit to the Provost’s Office a report on instruction in the Core Curriculum, and send a copy to the Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Academic Council. The report will include data on the availability of classes fulfilling core requirements, size of classes, indications of the quality of learning, measures of student satisfaction, and suggestions and proposals about ways in which education of students in these courses can be improved.
For each of the eleven Ways of Knowing, a Core Curriculum Subcommittee (CCS) will be formed. Section III.A describes the process for selecting the chair of each CCS (who will also serve on the CCC), while Section III.B. describes how the remaining members of the subcommittees will be selected.
A. Election of the Subcommittee Chair
The chair of each subcommittee will serve a three-year term (staggered to ensure continuity on the CCC). The process for electing the chair is as follows: the colleges and schools offering undergraduate degrees may each elect a candidate for chair of any CCS, via an election within each college or school. Outside of exceptions stated below, each subcommittee chair must have her or his primary scholarly focus aligned with the particular Way of Knowing of that subcommittee. Nominations will be reviewed by each school or college’s dean to ensure that all nominees have appropriate expertise and scholarly focus in the Way of Knowing. Each college or school will then elect its candidate from the list of nominees. If only one college or school elects a candidate for a particular Way of Knowing, that candidate becomes the chair of the CCS. If more than one college or school elects a candidate, then the chair is chosen from the elected candidates by the delegates of the deans of the colleges and schools who serve on the CCC, in conjunction with the chair of the CCC and the Associate Provost designated as the ex-officio member of the CCC.
The subcommittees for Writing, Catholicism and the Disciplines, and Integration are, by their nature, broadly interdisciplinary and therefore not necessarily focused on a specific discipline or set of disciplines. The CCS chair in these cases need not have their primary scholarly focus aligned with these ways of knowing. The following recommendations are offered as characteristics for an appropriate CCS chair of these committees:
- CCS for Writing: The CCS chair for Writing should have substantial expertise in teaching writing-intensive courses, or writing in the discipline.
- CCS for Catholicism and the Disciplines: The CCS chair for Catholicism and the Disciplines should have substantial scholarly background in the influence of Catholicism on another field of study.
- CCS for Integration: the CCS chair for Integration should have a history of interdisciplinary research and, ideally, experience in team-teaching an interdisciplinary course.
B. Appointment of the Members of the Subcommittees
Apart from the chair, the remaining members of each subcommittee will be appointed by the chair of the CCC, working in conjunction with the subcommittee chair and the deans (or their delegates) and the Associate Provost designated as the ex-officio member of the CCC. Members of the subcommittees will serve for three-year renewable terms.
In making appointments to the subcommittees, this group should strive to achieve a high level of expertise in the Way of Knowing, while balancing different perspectives and skills. The majority of the members of the CCS should have substantial scholarly focus in the relevant field and should be chosen from the department or departments that are primarily responsible for offering courses in the requirement. However, in most cases, it will be appropriate to have subcommittee members who are not disciplinary experts but who represent important stakeholder groups or who bring important perspectives. Subcommittees will typically have three to five members (including the chair) but may have more if necessary to achieve appropriate representation from disciplines or other stakeholders.
While the composition of the subcommittees is ultimately determined by the above process, the following recommendations are offered:
- If more than one college or school puts forward a candidate for the CCS chair, the additional candidates not selected for the chair position should be considered for appointment to the subcommittee.
- If not selected as chair, the Director of the University Writing Program should serve on the Writing committee, as well as one or two members from the University Writing program and/or the University Seminar program.
- The CCS for Catholicism and the Disciplines should include representatives from the Departments of Philosophy and Theology as well as faculty members from departments outside of those two.
- The CCS for Integration should be composed of members from across the University, and no department should have more than one representative.
Each CCS will seek appropriate ways to enhance teaching and learning in the courses fulfilling the Way of Knowing requirement under its purview, and to ensure that courses accord with the learning goals for that requirement. Each CCS has a judicial role of approving or denying approval to courses proposed to fulfill the relevant requirement, and the formal process for this approval is described below. However, the CCS must also see its role as providing assistance, encouragement, and advice to individual faculty on how their proposed course might more effectively attain the specified learning goals. CCSs, then, are urged to work with faculty to help them improve their courses, and not simply render judgments on them.
A. Approval of a Course
Courses proposed to fulfill a core requirement must be approved in one of the following ways:
1. Normal Procedure for Approval:
An instructor, with the approval of his or her departmental chair, submits a syllabus or other appropriate description of the course to the CCS, and a statement on how the course satisfies the learning goals for the Way of Knowing. The CCS then considers whether the proposed course can be expected to meet the learning goals and objectives specified in the rationale. The CCS is encouraged to work with the instructor to make the course acceptable to fulfill the requirement. The CCS may ask for more information from the instructor, or may suggest ways in which the course might be enhanced and ask the instructor to resubmit the syllabus or course description.
Final approval or disapproval by the CCS must be by a unanimous vote. If the CCS approves the course it will be designated as satisfying the requirement for that Way of Knowing; if the CCS does not approve the course, the CCS will give its reasons in writing to the instructor. If the CCS is unable to come to unanimous agreement about a particular course, the course will be referred to the CCC for consideration (see Section II.B above). An instructor may appeal the decision of the CCS to the CCC (see II.C above). Once a course is approved, another instructor from a unit designated for that requirement may teach the course without seeking further approval, provided that the instructor retains the syllabus or course description under which it was originally approved.
2. Exceptional Procedure for Approval:
A course may be proposed too late to be reviewed by the CCS (as may happen, for example, when a new faculty member is hired, or a visitor offers a course). In this case the chair of the relevant CCS may approve the course for one semester. The chair will inform the CCS of his or her decision and the reasons for it. The subcommittee must approve the course following the procedure in paragraph (1) above before it can be offered again to fulfill the relevant requirement.
B. Review of Previously Approved Courses
An instructor teaching a course in successive semesters will normally make adjustments and improvements in it, and it is not necessary to seek approval from the CCS after each change. However, each CCS will establish a cycle of review for approved courses every four years. For such a review, upon the request of the CCS the instructor will submit his or her current syllabus or course description along with a statement of what changes have been made since it was approved and a brief account of what the instructor has found successful in the course and what challenges remain. In this review the CCS should ensure that the course continues to achieve the learning goals set forth in the rationale for the requirement.
During the transition from the Core Curriculum requirements as they were in 2016 to the new Core Curriculum approved in the fall of 2016, the Core Curriculum Transition Committee (CCTC) recommends the following considerations for those courses that currently satisfy the requirements for awarding credit in the Core:
- Initially, all current Core courses should automatically be labeled by the Registrar in a manner that guarantees they will still be considered Core courses in the new curriculum in an appropriate “Way of Knowing.”
- Current courses treated this way should only retain their automatic status as Core courses for a “grace period” until they are reviewed and re-approved (or not) by the new CCS using the procedure described above for new courses. Courses not re-approved by this process by the end of the grace period will lose their designation as Core courses.
This recommendation is made in order to allow the new Core to come into existence without the CCSs having to review all of the current courses ahead of the start of the new Core. However, instructors can and should begin submitting courses for approval under the new Core as soon as the CCSs have been formed, with the understanding that it will take each CCS some time to work through approvals of current courses. The CCTC expects that this grace period will not last more than three years.