FACULTY SENATE


Senate Document Number     3306S


Date of Senate Approval      03/02/06  


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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:


APC Document  19:                                Changes to the Individual Degree Concentration Narrative

                                                              Changes to the IDC major requirements


Effective Date:  Fall 2006


1.  Delete:   On pg. 145-146, the first paragraph and items I-VI.


     Add:       On pg. 145, in place of deleted entry:


The Individual Degree Concentration offers students the opportunity to develop an individual degree program that integrates academic disciplines. It allows the academically strong, self-motivated student to design her or his own major with the help of faculty members from different departments. The program exists to help a student pursue an interdisciplinary major that is not offered at UNCA while making use of existing university resources. 


An individual degree concentration requires the student to assemble a committee consisting of at least two faculty members from two different departments who will help design a course of study. At least one member must be a tenured member of the faculty. The student and faculty will design a rationale for the proposed program of study, indicating how this particular program will meet the educational goals of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and how the program differs from existing programs at UNCA.


Students should meet with the IST director to pick up complete application guidelines and for guidance in creating a successful proposal.  Proposals must be submitted and approved before a student completes 75 hours. Deadlines for submission of proposals are set each semester, normally occurring midway through the semester.


Requirements for an Individual Degree Concentration:


1.  There must be a persuasive rationale for the individual program.

This must include an explanation of the need for an individual concentration. A persuasive rationale must include the reasoning behind the focus of the proposal and what the course of study is intended to accomplish.  It is important this is not simply a listing of courses, but a real course of study that is academically sound and intellectually defensible.

The following types of proposals are not appropriate for an Individual Degree Concentration:

·         Proposals for majors that the university does not have the resources to provide.

·         Proposals that are based on the specific requirements of a professional program or are narrowly tailored for a specific career.

·         Proposals that modify or substantially reproduce an existing degree program.

·         Proposals that combine existing majors with an existing minor.


2.  A specific statement of the learning objectives of the proposed Individual Degree

Concentration and how the learning objectives of the IST program are met.

This statement should include references to course work as well as to individual work. A proposal that relies heavily on special topics or research with one professor is unlikely to be approved. The learning objectives of the IST program are included in the application packet available from the Director of IST.





3.  A specific statement of how the objectives will be assessed.

The IST program requires all Individual Degree Concentration majors to develop a portfolio to be used in assessing program learning objectives. Summary statements from faculty committee members are required at least once a year indicating progress towards and achievement of concentration goals.


4.  Description of capstone project or coursework.

The capstone experience should synthesize and summarize the major, and demonstrate major, oral and computer competency. 


5.  Listing of courses required for the major.

A specific list of required courses must be submitted, placed into appropriate subcategories.

·         The major must total 36-45 credit hours.

·         Courses must be from at least three different disciplines available at UNC Asheville.

·         No more than one-half of the required credit hours may come from any one department. 

·         At least 21 of the required hours must be at the 300-level or above.

·         Students must have completed or be enrolled in IST 290 to apply for an individual concentration.

·         IST 495 must be included in the list.

·         At least two-thirds of the major must be taken while a student at UNC Asheville.

·         Students seeking an Individual Degree Concentration cannot seek a double major.

·         None of the hours used to fulfill requirements for a declared minor may be used for the Individual Degree Concentration[AS1] .


6.  Timetable for completion of degree.

The timetable should be based on reasonable expectations of course offerings and should demonstrate that the degree can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. It may be necessary to consult with department chairs about recent patterns of course offerings.  Individual Degree Concentrations often take more than four years simply because of course scheduling. Curricular substitutions can be made after degree approval, but are not always appropriate or possible. Students who are not enrolled for two consecutive semesters must have their Individual Degree Concentration reviewed when they return. Students who are not enrolled for three or more consecutive semesters must reapply for an Individual Degree Concentration.


7.  Statement of Faculty Support

Each faculty member on the student's committee should write a statement of feasibility and support of the concentration and its objectives. It is expected that faculty will work with the student to develop all parts of the proposal, but a separate statement of support is required. Faculty members agree to fulfill the function of an academic department for the student, which includes not only establishing and assessing learning objectives, but also supervising the student’s capstone experience. Faculty who are unsure of the requirements should contact the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.


Impact: Clarification of the requirements for an Individual Degree Concentration has already reduced the time the Director of IST spends with students looking for a quick and easy way to graduate. This is a substantial time saving.

Rationale: The changes made to this section are, in general, not new policy. The catalog copy is not complete and has misled students, faculty and prospective students about the Individual Degree. With rare exception, all of the catalog changes proposed are from the original document creating the BA in IST (Senate Document Number 0200F). This catalog statement makes clear the original intent of the planning committee and ensures that Individual Degree Concentrations will be of high quality.



The changes from the original document are:

At least one faculty member must be a tenured member of the faculty.

One problem that emerged in the first three years of the program was that untenured faculty or lecturers who signed as faculty mentors left the university or lost interest in the project. This created a huge problem for the student who had no mentor to guide his or her degree. Requiring one tenured faculty member helps prevent that problem.


Untenured faculty and lecturers demonstrated a tendency to sign-on to projects that they did not have time to finish—it is regrettable but some untenured faculty were hesitant to say no to student requests. A process with substantive faculty input in developing the degree, and a requirement for a tenured faculty member should help.



Students seeking an Individual Degree Concentration cannot double major.

The original restriction was that a student could not use more that 6 hours for both majors. Students who attempted to double major found that they had to constantly change the requirements for the Individual Degree Concentration in order to graduate in a timely fashion. This is simply not a good idea and leads to a weak degree.


Requiring IST 290

The addition of IST 290 is necessary to provide a core course for IST Individual Degree Concentration students. In the assessment of student learning, it was observed that graduating seniors were unclear about the meaning of interdisciplinary and could not define it. An Intro course will provide an overview of interdisciplinary methodology. This course will also explain the portfolio approach and how the program will use it to assess student learning.


Time Limit

Students who leave the university and then return expect to be able to complete their Individual Degree Concentration. This can be quite difficult since faculty leave and courses change. This makes clear to the student that the agreement to pursue an Individual Degree Concentration is a time-limited agreement.  We cannot guarantee that it will be possible to finish the degree after a lengthy absence.



 [AS1] Should we distinguish this from the ESI and INTS concentrations?