Senate Document Number 6300S

Date of Senate Approval 5/4/00

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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:

APC Document 50:   The addition of CHEM 132 to the list of courses that satisfy the 3-hour science general education requirement

Effective Date: Fall, 2000

add on page 44, 1999-00 catalog, after "Three-Hour Requirement (select one)"

CHEM 132 General Chemistry 3

Impact Statement
This change is a result of requests submitted to the department by the Registrar and the Vice-Chancellor of Enrollment Services. It is designed to alleviate the need for an increasing number of appeals to the VCAA for exceptions that allow this course to satisfy part of the university's general education science requirement. The department is highly supportive of this change and does not believe, with the current institutional climate, that it will have anything but a minimal impact upon resources. This change will not impact major or minor requirements, the education Department's Licensure Programs, or other departments that require chemistry courses.

During the past few years the number of students petitioning the VCAA to allow CHEM 132 to be used in satisfying part of their science general education requirement has increased noticeably. In all instances the request has been denied by the registrar's office and forwarded to the VCAA for appeal. Almost all of these requests have resulted from either poor advising or, more often, from students who have changed their major to one not classified as a natural science. It is believed that this situation will arise more frequently in years to come as more and more students come to UNCA intending to pursue a major in one of the natural sciences or related disciplines.1

Fully understanding the problem requires understanding how science students satisfy their science general education requirements. Some environmental studies students (those in the earth science and environmental biology concentrations), biology students, and some atmospheric science students satisfy their five-hour, laboratory based requirement by taking a 105 course as part of their major. The remaining students in atmospheric science and the students in the other environmental studies concentrations (pollution control and natural resource management) satisfy the requirement by substituting an "eight-hour sequence with laboratory from Biology, Chemistry, or Physics." (1999-2000 Catalog, p. 44) Most of the natural science students (excluding those from environmental studies) "meet the three-hour interdisciplinary natural science requirement by taking six or more hours of course work in one or more of the natural sciences (atmospheric sciences, biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, and physics) outside their major." (1999-2000 Catalog, p. 44) So long as a student continues as a natural science major, they have no problem. However, should they change their major to something that is outside the "list of five," they go from having a requirement completed to now needing an additional course in the natural sciences to graduate. Unfortunately, most students and many advisors (even some in the natural sciences) don't understand the intricacies of this situation. The following examples illustrate the situation.

Example 1
Student A enrolls at UNCA intending to major in chemistry. During their first four semesters they should have taken CHEM 111, 132, and 144 and PHYS 221 and 222. The 111/132/144 sequence in chemistry is eight hours of laboratory-based general chemistry and substitutes for a five-hour requirement course. The 221/222 sequence in physics is eight hours and satisfies the three-hour interdisciplinary requirement.

If, after completing the above sequences, student A elects to change to a major in psychology, the physics sequence no longer satisfies the general education requirement and he or she must take an additional course to graduate.

Example 2
Student B enrolls at UNCA intending to major in biology. He or she will have taken BIOL 105, the first course for the major, during the first two semesters. During their first four semesters they should have taken CHEM 111, 132, 144, and 231. The BIOL 105 satisfies the five-hour requirement and the 111/132/134 sequence can substitute for the three-hour requirement.

If, after completing the above sequence, student B elects to change to a major in mathematics, the chemistry sequence no longer satisfies the three-hour requirement. This means that an additional science course must be taken in order for the student to graduate.

UNCA, as a liberal arts institution, attempts to expose its students to a wide variety of ideas, issues, and subjects. A result of this approach is that some students will deviate from their original academic plan. In fact, if we are successful in our mission, it should be expected. This also means that as more and more students enter with an initial interest in science or a related field, there will also be more and more students dealing with this general education requirement issue.

This proposal is designed to eliminate the current situation by adding CHEM 132 to the list of courses approved for satisfying the three-hour interdisciplinary science general education requirement. As a central science, chemistry is an important component of many disciplines. At UNCA, students pursuing studies in Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Industrial and Engineering Management, Mathematics, Nursing, and Physics are all required, at a minimum to take CHEM 132 (General Chemistry). Also all students, regardless of their major, interested in pursing future studies in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy are required to take CHEM 132. This wide range of interests produces a CHEM 132 student population that is quite diverse in its background, its abilities, and in what individual students want and need to take from their time in the course. As a result of this diversity and the centrality of chemistry to all of these areas of study, the course not only covers the fundamental topics that one expects to find in an introductory chemistry course, but it places the chemistry in context for each. For example, density's dependence upon temperature is discussed in the context of turnover within bodies of water and how this facilitates oxygen delivery to all species within the system. The importance of dimensional analysis is illustrated with real life examples of aircraft running out of fuel because of flight crew miscommunication and with the recent crashing of the mars probe because simple calculations of thrust were performed incorrectly. Sickle cell anemia can be used to discuss and illustrate the concepts of hydrogen bonding and solubility. The list of examples is endless.

It is the opinion of the department that CHEM 132 more than satisfies the intent of the three-hour science general education requirement. The course is indeed one that is non-laboratory based and that deals with scientific issues in the context of a larger society.


1 The 1999-2000 Enrollment Report presented to the Faculty Senate on February 10, 2000 indicates that disciplines requiring their students to take CHEM 132 (Categories 2, 3, and 4) have generated 6129 new student credit hours (SCH) in 99/00 relative to 98/99.