At the faculty meeting on Monday, faculty narrowly passed a motion to change the language requirement for the class of 2023 so that students will no longer be able to test-out of a language.
The motion passed with 51 faculty in favor and 43 faculty opposed to it. Beginning in 2019, first-year students will complete two semesters of a language other than English, beginning at an appropriate level according to a placement exam. Students will still be required to take the language placement exam, but the exam will be used to place them at their appropriate level instead of allowing students to test out completely.
“For me, we’re here to discuss inconsistency in our curriculum. Mainly that language study is the only general education discipline that does not require two semesters of study at DePauw,” said Alejandro Puga, a professor of spanish and the chair of the modern languages department.
Previously, students were allowed to test-out of a language to complete the requirement. Now, students must complete two semester of a language. They may study the language they took in high school or begin a new language at the first-semester level. Additionally, students are allowed to take one semester of a language off-campus.
The rationale for this curriculum change from the Department of Modern Languages is that the University must offer a language requirement to coincide with its increased cross-cultural course offerings. A test-out option for students would be counterintuitive.
Faculty opposed to the motion were concerned with the class size language courses offer and how students are available to avoid certain general education requirements. Pam Propsom, a professor of psychology, brought up the statistic that 18 percent of students graduate without taking a science course.
“We continue to add new requirements for the students, and they are all curricularly justified. As we do it, we crimp the students more and more and more. I worry that if we pass this, we will be unable to do a fair or needed gen-ed discussion of what the students are missing,” said Jim Benedix, a professor of biology.
The faculty also passed a motion for the repolished learning goals for both Power Privilege and Diversity (PPD) and International Experience courses. The International Experience course was also motioned to be renamed to Global Learning (GL). The PPD courses would focus on experience in the United States to address issues of difference and marginalization while the GL courses would discuss global issues and experiences.
“We want to ensure that all students who go to DePauw, who graduate from DePauw take at least one course that addresses issues of marginalization in the United States,” said
PPD courses originally did not solely focus on the United States or use it as a lens to discuss marginalization. Current PPD courses include The Holocaust and Intro to Global Health.
Despite issues with the language and exact definition of PPD and GL courses, Clarissa Peterson, an associate professor of political science, encouraged faculty to vote on the matter. “The students who have been protesting specifically are concerned with what we’re calling PPD, and I think that this will speak volumes to them that we are serious about naming PPD, PPD and addressing their concern of it being this bulge that means nothing to them,” Peterson said.
The motion about the learning goals for PPD and GL courses passed.