Senate Document Number   1001F

Date of Senate Approval   12/06/01

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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:

APC Document 5:   IST: Revision of the Application Process for an Individual Degree

Effective Date: Fall, 2002

All changes apply to page 130 under the heading "Interdisciplinary Studies: Individual Degree Concentration"

A. DELETE the introduction paragraph.

REPLACE with the following

Students have an opportunity to pursue an individual degree concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies resulting in a Bachelor of Arts degree. This concentration permits students to combine features of more than one discipline in a course of study outside the normal list of major programs. Students interested in the individual degree concentration obtain application materials from the Interdisciplinary Studies director. In consultation with their faculty advisor and the IST director, students develop a curriculum that follows the application guidelines. Students should begin the application process for the individual degree concentration prior to the completion of 60 semester hours of credit. The final proposal must be submitted before students complete 75 semester hours. A completed application includes the following:

B. INSERT in section I, in the first sentence between the words "courses" and "totaling" the following phrase.

, placed in appropriate subcategories as outlined in the application,

C. DELETE section III

REPLACE with the following:

III. A title and persuasive rationale for the individual program. The rationale explains the reasoning behind the focus and indicates what the student intends to accomplish in the course of study. This explanation will be used by the IST director to evaluate the list of submitted courses.

D. DELETE section V

REPLACE with the following:

V. The student's application must be signed by at least one faculty member willing to serve as the student's academic advisor. This person will also be the student's mentor for the paper or project which fulfills the capstone experience.

E. DELETE the paragraph after section VI

REPLACE with the following:

When the IST director determines the submitted proposal is consistent with the university's mission, the student can formally declare a major in Interdisciplinary studies. This declaration is contingent on the Registrar's Office certification that the proposal meets all graduation requirements. No changes may be made in the approved program without written authorization from the IST director. The title of the individual degree will be identified on the student's transcript at the time of graduation.

My brief experience with working with individual degree requests has revealed some shortcomings with the original process. The changes are intended to make the procedures more efficient and a better learning process for students.

Change A has three purposes. First, by emphasizing "application" it changes the tone of the process and underscores that acceptance of a proposal is not automatic. Second it inserts the IST Director early into the proposal preparation phase which saves the student and faculty advisor time. Early involvement allows the director an opportunity to better counsel the student about the coherence and logic of the proposal. Finally, encouraging students to start planning early will help them retain the widest possible latitude in selecting choices and options.

Change B forces students to consider what purpose each course serves in their curriculum.

Change C will help students consider the relationship between their theoretical focus and the actual implementation of their ideas. This should be particularly helpful during senior exit interviews which will form part of the program's assessment strategy. The reference to the mission of the University has been deleted because, frankly, those parts of the essays have been torturous and painful to read and there is no clear way to critique the arguments. Responsibility for making sure the proposed course of study is consistent with the university's mission is transferred to the director in change E.

Change D recognizes that students tend to deal closely with only one faculty member. Requiring only one signature isolates an individual who has a direct interest in the student's progress but doesn't preclude the student from working with others. The expressed willingness to serve as mentor should increase the chances that only faculty interested in the student's program will be involved and help ensure that the student will be able to complete their capstone project.

Change E does two things. First it clarifies the responsibility of the director and establishes some standards to guide his or her actions. Second it streamlines the application process by eliminating a step. Under the old wording the proposal went from the student, to the director, to the registrar, back to the director, and then the declaration of major was sent back to the registrar. The longer process is only necessary when the director fails to recognize a problem. The new wording also allows the director to make exceptions which is the standard for other departments.