Students may recall one particular question on a survey recently emailed out: “Should Franklin College offer a second, three- or four-week intensive term each year, in addition to the month of January?”
Brooke Worland, the assistant provost and dean of engaged learning at the college, sent the email. She co-chairs a committee that focuses on reimagining the college’s curriculum, which is seeking student feedback for a variety of suggested curriculum changes — including adding another intensive semester to Franklin College’s school year in May or August.
“As part of this process, we are interested in our current students’ attitudes towards some of these ideas,” Worland said in the email. “Your feedback is incredibly valuable.”
The committee, nicknamed SPARC for Strategic Planning Around Reorganization of the Curriculum, is made up of 11 faculty and staff members. The committee is looking into adding the intensive semester to give students yet another opportunity to take a class, travel abroad or complete an internship during the year.
Psychology professor Kristen Flora, who co-chairs beside Worland, said having a January term is one of the things that makes the college unique.
“We don’t want to lose that uniqueness,” Flora said. “So what may work for another institution is going to be modified to fit what we do and how we do it here.”
In an effort to provide a more substantive conservation about the intensive semester change, the committee hosted a listening session at the end of last month. Four faculty members, including Worland, and one student attended.
Junior Kyle Sauley, the lone student who attended the session, said he was most interested by the committee’s discussion of a potential second intensive term.
“I think the best part of Franklin’s curriculum is the intensive January term,” he said. “It is an opportunity unique to Franklin, and I think intensive terms are something that set Franklin apart.”
Sauley said he has used the intensive semester to take a class, travel to Europe and complete an internship.
Hanover College, which is similarly sized and has a similar curriculum to Franklin College, offers a May term similar to Franklin’s January term. Having an intensive term at the beginning or end of summer could give students additional time at their summer internship placements.
At the town-hall style meeting, Worland presented a few potential changes aside from the intensive semester, such as moving from class credit hours to units, requiring students to complete a semester off campus, requiring students to do undergraduate research, and making changes to the core LA courses, including LA 100.
“There seems to be some consensus both from faculty, staff, and students that we need to revisit the LA 100 course,” Flora said. “This idea of a first-year seminar and understand what is the purpose of this course and does what we have now really meet the goals of what we want this course to do?”
Although the committee is still in the investigative process on all of these curriculum changes, their goal is to give an update at the faculty meeting in May before the end of the academic year about their findings. Up until now, the committee has spent time looking at data, institutional sites, visiting institutions and having phone calls with a number of institutions to get a sense of how other colleges are envisioning their liberal arts curriculum in the future.
After more research and discussion, SPARC will then do some writing over the summer and come back to the faculty in August to hopefully define the curriculum and lay out what they want to achieve.
“Our job is to help facilitate this process,” Worland said. “Our job is to not really make all the decisions. Our job is to help generate the conversation, provide feedback and information.”
The survey to provide feedback to the committee is still open. To give your feedback, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/SPARCstudent.