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Stanford Report, May 21, 1997

Faculty Senate Minutes: 5/21/97


Faculty Senate Report


Professor Perry (Philosophy) stated that he would like to strike the first sentence of C.2 (page 3) on the grounds that it states poorly what the earlier introductory sentence of Section C states better and more flexibly. With the Chair reminding Perry that no formal amendments were permitted in "Stage One," Professor Efron (Statistics) urged that the Senate not begin amending such a complicated document on the floor. Bratman further clarified that straw votes were allowed in "Stage One," but that a technical problem seemed to prevent taking straw votes on the same day as a final vote on the main motion, though another parliamentary procedure could be used to accomplish this purpose.

It was moved (Perry) and seconded (Bravman) that the Senate proceed from "Stage One" to "Stage Two" deliberations on the proposed changes to the Area One legislation. The motion carried by a divided voice vote."

McCall drew attention to two areas "that the Senate, on intellectual and pedagogic grounds, ought to be aware of as we proceed." First, he noted that Elam had eloquently illustrated "one of the deepest ongoing divisions amongst humanistic scholars," that is, focus on the text versus focus on methodology. "That humanistic debate will never subside," McCall said, but to his mind underscores the need for the Senate to hear the strengths and weaknesses of different models at the end of the transition period. The second pedagogic issue upon which "the jury is still out," McCall said, is whether it is necessarily best for all first quarter courses to be team-taught. If too many CIV texts produced a "snippet" problem, "in a pedagogic way this runs the danger of the snippet approach to Stanford faculty," he joked.

Professor Chu (Physics) proposed that everyone think very carefully about limiting the number of amendments, since "we can't anticipate all the problems now" and should not try to fix things until there had been some experience with the program.

Perry, advised that Fernald would need to consult C-US before considering the elimination of the first sentence of Section C.2 on page 3 as a friendly amendment, made a formal motion to that effect. He agreed that it was unwise to amend frequently, but maintained that this particular problem was a red flag that could and should be corrected. "I don't think there's a 'methodology' in Philosophy ... and I wouldn't want to be charged with having to teach [it]," he stated. Professor Chaffee opposed the amendment as unnecessary and unwise. Bender asked whether Perry would prefer "methods of inquiry" to "methodologies," underscoring however the important distinction between a methods-oriented first quarter and a more sequential, specifically-disciplinary, inter-textual oriented Winter/Spring sequence. The question was called, and Perry's amendment failed on a divided voice vote. Efron, indicating that he had some sympathy with Perry's proposal but had not wanted to encourage a series of amendments, asked whether straw votes were still possible. The Chair indicated that the Senate could go into a Quasi-Committee of the Whole for that purpose.

Professor White (Mathematics) asked why students were required to take specific Area One courses, taught in a specific way, rather than selecting from a variety of courses to fulfill a humanities requirement. Fernald stressed that the Area One requirement was especially designed for freshmen, incorporating for example small discussion sections and a focus on writing. Professor Taylor (Economics), a member of C-US, reminded White that the revised legislation contains quite a bit more choice for students as they move out of the first quarter. He said that he would like to see "a kind of matrix of methodologies, or themes, intersecting with different texts." Speaking from the perspective of the only engineer or scientist on the CIV Review Committee, Bravman stated that he firmly believes "that the study of humanities remains at the core of an undergraduate education at a great research university." He voiced the opinion that the needs of 17- and 18-year old students must drive the Area One requirement, not a focus on humanities as a discipline.

(Minutes continued)