Discussion area for April 5 faculty meeting

Feel free to add comments, questions, or suggestions below. You may post anonymously if you wish.

There were six anonymous notecards left at the meeting, and one more (signed) addressed to Clerk’s Committee which I have delivered to those folks directly.

Suggestions re: the query

A good step might be to not write a letter to the community saying they shouldn’t get angry and yell at authority figures who repeatedly, publicly, and unapologetically misgender them because ‘it’s difficult’ and ‘he was trying.’


Ideas on how to use upcoming time:

How to move forward with “critical perspectives without getting turf-y. Or maybe just rename them and figure it out later.


I’m very concerned (and don’t understand) the C- requirement for Gen Ed courses – this means that all Gen Ed plus their major courses would have this minimum, which means few-to-none of the courses a student takes would allow for a D- to D+. With all of the pressure for retention, it seems that this would encourage us to dumb down our courses or lower our standards. I’m concerned it won’t encourage exploration in challenging areas and it will put the emphasis on the grade rather than the learning. I’m all for rigor, but I think this bar feels arbitrary – students who have too many D grades likely won’t be retained anyway.


New faculty weren’t given a thorough explanation of LAGER. Can we take some time to go back and do a “LAGER 101?” Just briefly.


If we get a transfer senior/junior, how will we service their gen ed needs while we ramp up?

Could the Gen Ed be different for “Adult” students vs. Trad? If we want to rebuild this historical part of Guilford we may need this difference.


Suggestion: Let’s start the next meeting w/ Zhihong’s, Mylene’s, and Tom’s comments. Thanks.


  1. Thank you to Lager and Clerk’s for a fruitful discussion today. Toward the end of the meeting, I heard a round of “Friend Speaks My Mind” concerning a reluctance to participate in the CiPs as currently written. I am not sure where I stand in terms of CiP eagerness; my intention with this post is not to cast aspersions, but rather to raise some questions. How many of us are keen to develop CiPs? How many of us are willing to pass this curriculum because we assume others will develop CiPs? If more of us fall in the latter category than in the former, then what happens to the spirit of this new curriculum?

    • Maria I am very excited about developing a CiP that is about social justice and the arts with my colleagues across campus, but I feel it would need to be my full time job for a semester or a year. Without dedicated, concentrated time the “product” that is the CiP could easily be unfocused, and quality elements of the CiP may likely fall through the cracks. I think we are nervous because we don’t have a fulll picture of the support we will receive to make these things..which I realize may be impossible to know.

      • Richard Schilhavy

        Friend speaks my mind. I’m excited about the idea of CiPs and developing a CiP around Data Science / Data Analytics. However, I share the concern regarding support for developing the CiP and continued staffing of the CiP when our current program, which is simpler and less costly, now doesn’t receive sufficient support to be truly interdisiplinary.

  2. Robert G. Williams

    I applaud Maria Bobroff’s queries re: the ease or difficulty of staffing the new CiP’s.

    If there is abundant enthusiasm to develop CiPs from individual faculty and abundant willingness and ability of departments to move faculty off disciplinary courses to supply staffing for the CiP’s, the dean will not have a problem supporting this aspect of the new curriculum and it will be workable.

    I’ve tried to answer Maria Bobroff’s questions:

    “How many of us are keen to develop CiPs?”
    I, personally, am not keen on developing one. why?
    My calling is to deliver economic literacy to as many people as possible at a time in history when economic literacy is low. Our department has a strong basic training program developed over many years to deliver these difficult skills to the masses. We accomplish this with minimal staffing. Developing and supplying a CiP might be interesting and fun, but it would divert my energies from giving intensive introductory training to raise students’ economic literacy. I could sneak in some economic concepts into a CiP, but the CiP structure has other important goals that would severely dilute the delivery of discipline specific skills required for achieving basic economic literacy. Consequence: Fewer students would graduate from Guilford with basic literacy in economics.

    “How many of us are willing to pass this curriculum because we assume others will develop CiPs?” I, Robert G. Williams, ‘am willing to pass the CiP portion of the curriculum if other departments and programs can flexibly supply the staffing for it. This may be true because the types of skills delivered in other programs more neatly fit with the CiP goals and structure. (I’m thinking courses that already have a community participation element in the training.) In such cases, a transfer of training from a current course offering to a CiP will not lower the delivery of those skills to the student population. In fact, it would raise it and that would be good in my opinion.

    Maria’s questions might be useful for getting a tally so we could get an empirical foundation for answering her final question:
    “If more of us fall in the latter category than in the former, then what happens to the spirit of this new curriculum?”

    Might the Clerk’s Committee arrange for such a tally?
    If the Clerk’s Committee thinks this would be fruitful, I would recommend that respondents have the option to identify themselves but be allowed to remain anonymous.
    Thanks for all the work LAGER and Clerk’s has been doing. Robert G. Williams

  3. This point may seem small, but it’s giving me trouble wrapping my mind around our discussion. In the April 4 memo from Clerk’s Committee, one of the four Art & Science recommendations is listed as “Collaborative student-led problem-solving”. The opening slide at the last two faculty meetings has that phrased as “Collaborative student-led learning”. The LAGER memo that accompanies their v4.5 proposal has “Hands-on collaborative problem-solving” (maybe with an element of “Primary major and an issue a student is passionate about”). And my notes from the December Art & Science presentation quote one of their initiatives as: “Academically rigorous, team-based approach to learning”.

    What is the college’s accepted phrasing of that recommendation?

    • Hi Rob – If we were ever given a written version of the Art and Science report, we would have a better handle on how to answer that question. I have asked for this many times. The most recent communication that SPOC has gotten from Jane calls the process “Guilford Your Way” and lists the following four areas:
      Learning Collaboratively – Team-based, hands-on learning building on student passions
      Teaming for Success – Integrated advising and post-college planning model
      Ethical Leadership – Learning to be ethical leaders
      Rallying Campus Spirit – Vibrant, inclusive, well-connected campus

      • Thanks for the reply, Dave. I appreciate your continuing to ask for the report. It does make me nervous that we are supposed to implement recommendations that, at this point, are short phrases. And the background to those phrases are in presentations a) that not all of us could attend, b) have had different levels of detail for different groups, and c) for which the slides haven’t even been shared with us. My discomfort is that we’re not starting from a common understanding of the recommendations and their foundation. That adds risk to an already rapid implementation, and I don’t understand why we would choose to take on that extra risk.

        • I agree with Rob’s comment. Ethical leadership, for example, is a field with a literature, an intellectual history, a methodology. I am concerned we are talking lightly about it, without a shared, informed knowledge of what it means.

        • Thank you, Rob, and I agree with you. I’d like to see the data that may have curricular implications, and I’d also like to know what non-curricular steps we are considering to address the A&S recommendations? Is Jane going to address the faculty with more detail about the A&S findings? I’m not asking you, specifically, Rob, but am putting these questions to our community.

  4. I was unable to attend yesterday’s faculty meeting because of sickness, but I think the ideas I’m about share apply, all the same. In the past weeks I’ve expressed concern about the erasure or superficial treatment of “critical perspectives.” Along the same lines, I’m specifically worried about the lack of an encompassing global perspective in our curriculum. A “global and diverse perspectives” gateway (presumably to fit in courses/topics that deal with diversity in the U.S. AND/OR outside the U.S.) is just like a band-aid to minimally cover a big gap in the proposed curriculum. There’s one gateway (divided into two courses) in the proposed curriculum meant to encourage global engagement. In this regard, requiring two language courses is an excellent addition, but I think there’s need for a third course where students learned at least one more of the various topics and dimensions relevant to a global perspective, such as international politics, economic globalization, history, identity politics, among others. I think there’s need to include, rather than exclude all together, disciplines that have a lot to offer in this regard. I teach courses that speak to this, but I’m not speaking from a self-centered perspective. Quite frankly, I just feel dismayed that, in this age, the complexities of a world where entire regions are devastated by war and/or exclusionary economic systems are in danger of being taught in a fleeting manner and thinned out in our gen. ed., liberal arts curriculum. I’m disheartened that there’s no set place in our general education curriculum for at least one required course, except for language courses, that looks outside the U.S. We have an incredible body of faculty in History, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Religious Studies, the English Department, and the Foreign Language Department whose courses examine world regions outside the U.S. Why the erasure of some of them and their contributions? I’ve been told in the past that the CiPs would provide a space for that. But we don’t know yet what the CiPs will be and some of us still have issues with the idea of making them so central in our curriculum. Maria Bobroff’s questions in this regard are relevant. Some people are obviously excited about the CiPs; but how many? I like what Robert G. Williams proposes, i.e. not assuming, but finding out if the CiPs will be viable based on the number of people who are committed to designing and coordinating one such communities. I couldn’t say if I would be on board quite simply because there are many gaps in the logistics of this process in terms of implementation, coordination, resources, specific learning outcomes, faculty responsibilities, standards for approval, standards for the inclusion/exclusion of certain courses, intersections with the majors or lack thereof, etc. I suspect that there are several colleagues share at least some of the views I’ve expressed here. I wouldn’t like their voices silenced for the sake of being flexible and moving forward.

  5. I probably should have said this on Wed instead of going all dark, but I am actually super excited about starting and participating in multidisciplinary teams – just not how they are currently conceptualized. I know many faculty are looking for a bold new curriculum, but what excited me when we started off on this path was simply having a curriculum that was more streamlined, where I didn’t feel like I had to choose between serving my discipline and serving the gen ed curriculum (when really, isn’t the major part of the gen ed?), where programs like Bonner and PPS didn’t feel like add-ons, and where my colleagues, students, and I could have some space to breathe, explore, and learn together.

    My darkness on Wed was fueled in part because I see this pattern at Guilford where we as faculty complain about how much we have to do and how stretched thin we are, yet we tend to choose the harder, more complicated path because it sounds cool or bold, a few people are super-excited, or we feel that we “have to do something to save the college,” all of which were rationales for Jterm and PPS (which has turned out to be cool but also very disjointed from Bonner and other programs).

    I actually think we could set up a structure that is both cool and doable where we don’t feel a conflict between serving our major and serving the curriculum (and students also don’t feel that conflict), and where our disciplinary expertise is valued and our work is supported, if we truly integrated the major + passion model (which I yammered on about already in another moon room post).

    I really liked Mylene’s suggestion that gateways need to go to a bridge and the bridge also needs to lead somewhere (as she said, perhaps “nirvana”). So
    • Gateway classes help students develop foundational skills, engage with issues of diversity and justice, and encourage the exploration essential for students to help discover their passions. These include the first-year orientation class, the 3-part writing sequence, a 2-part language sequence, explorations in social science, natural science, humanities and arts, and an intentional focus on diversity and social justice.

    • The Bridge is the major + experiential/multidisciplinary team. We could simply say something like “all students have at least one major and participate in x number of hours in a multidisciplinary team that includes experiential and collaborative work that enhances and extends their major. Or, we could connect them even more explicitly to say that every major will require a student to be part of a multidisciplinary team – Then majors can decide which teams count for the major and which don’t. Some majors might allow any team to count toward their major, and others might have a list of teams that count, and some others might only count one team (in a similar way that this works for the IDS 400 classes now).

    • “Nirvana” is the students their super-cool after-Guilford experiences.

  6. Colleagues, I have shared this comment with LAGER and other colleagues and was encouraged to post it to the Moon Room, in the spirit of the last faculty meeting. Here it is:

    There should be a way of making historical thinking more visible in the current configuration of the catalog language. I suggest three reasons for this revision:

    a. other worlds, other lives: global and diverse perspectives pertain also to those of the past, to all those worlds that came before our time, ones that train our empathy and understanding.

    b. why we are here: our past shapes our present, and we should highlight this historical causation, at the very least this historical relationship.

    c. past lessons and future problems: it is a traditional view of history, and therefore one we should respect, that we learn by historical analogy. What happened in the past can teach us about how to address problems in the future (and the present).

    I hope this thinking can be recognized in the following section of 4.5:

    4. Global and Diverse Perspectives. This course offers instruction in research and writing that provides a bridge between early writing instruction in the Gateway sequence and the more advanced, specific writing outcomes particular to a student’s major and Community in Practice (CiP). As the third course in the writing sequence, students will demonstrate a number of writing specific outcomes. Students will apply and practice the concepts of the [updated critical perspectives] at an intermediate level.

    A student that successfully completes the Global and Diverse Perspectives course will be able to:

    Communicate effectively in writing at a sophisticated level, demonstrating rhetorical knowledge, process, and knowledge of conventions

    Apply a disciplinary methodology, involving historical approaches or understanding, to organize and analyze quantitative or qualitative information to understand causation.

    Explain and critically analyze the ethical responsibilities of learning in a global or diverse environment within a specific area of study that includes an awareness of this area’s historical actors and formation.

  7. Shout out to LAGER. I’m not sure you guys have really gotten much gratitude out loud because I haven’t been there this semester. We all understand, although it might not feel like it, that you spent literally 100’s of hours of energy planning and researching this new curriculum. It seems to me you even created something that held the possibility of having every single thing folks want. All of us could have inserted our areas or interests into several of the branches. While we might not have seen every issue labeled, there was room for them all. We saw and appreciated that at every turn you tried to make changes when approached, provide feedback to concerns based on deep reflection, and offered plenty of time for us to offer input. As far as I witnessed, you always received with open minds and hearts.
    We can be a tough audience when it comes to criticism and ownership. But we are especially tough when it comes to trust. Thank you for what you’ve given to us and all it took to get there. No matter where we turn out and what the finished product, I wish and hope we can keep the spirit of the foundation you created for us. We did after all choose to charge you to become experts in this according to market, core values and faculty input. I myself yearn to see what a student-centered, open and flexible curriculum would look like. My fingers are crossed!
    So in case it hasn’t been said enough, thank you LAGER!!!

  8. Friends, I’ve been away this year dealing with chronic Lyme, which, among other things, has affected my brain function. Today is a *good* day in that I can concentrate and hopefully articulate my thoughts.

    Forgive me if I’ve missed some of the data I’m about to ask about, and if I have, I would appreciate folks directing me!

    I appreciate the comments about people’s excitement levels and energy re: LAGER–that energy is important as we move forward! I’d also like to see best practices gen ed data, and how it supports whatever we decide to do as we move forward.

    I would also appreciate seeing the A&S data that has specific curricular implications. I am concerned that what has been phrased by Jane as a need “to act now” may have unintended consequences for curricular integrity. What I heard when I attended the faculty meeting when Jane spoke was that waiting to address the A&S recommendations would be “too late;” I’m unclear what kind of data this is then?

    From what I understand we examined why students did not choose Guilford and why it was not memorable to them–would revising gen ed make Guilford more attractive to them? I’m finding this assumption confusing, and as a parent of two-college aged students the gen ed requirements of different schools can cut both ways. Honestly, gen ed was not the deciding factor, and was not even considered in one case. Have we examined data on what role gen ed plays in prospective students’ decision-making?

    Re: CPs; I understand folks disagree and that some see requiring whatever we end up calling CPs prescriptive or perhaps “too disciplinary;” I apologize if I’m mischaracterizing or am not capturing the different concerns. I’d like to ask us all to take a step back, and consider what we mean in our description of Guilford on our webpage under “About.”

    For me, this description has gen ed implications. We are a unique institution in that we offer anti-racism workshops that we hope will have full participation across our community. We are the founders of Every Campus a Refuge. We have many other strengths with our majors, PPS, Bonner etc. that help students consider what it means to to be an engaged citizen influenced by Quaker values.

    Just as any college requires students to engage in learning about a country before they study abroad, it strikes me that we can uniquely engage students in a gen ed curriculum that asks them what it means to be a citizen, a member of a community at and after Guilford. Medical schools increasingly require courses called “cultural competency” so that doctors are aware of potential biases in research, patient-doc interactions, diagnosis, treatment etc.

    I don’t like the term “cultural competency” but perhaps we can consider the same spirit of such training for our gen ed. This does not mean that we prescribe what everyone should think about policy, such as affirmative action, for example, but that we teach basic concepts about oppression and power in an ever changing dynamic globalizing world.

    For me, whatever we decide to do as we move forward with gen ed the revision should have an explicit curricular connection to how we characterize/market ourselves. If we don’t, and favor skills, flexibility, team-problem solving etc. then I don’t see how we are distinguishing ourselves from other liberal arts colleges. S

    I appreciate everyone’s comments here and in other places on the Moon Room. I agree with Kami about LAGER’s work, and am very grateful to all of them.

    I would also like gently to say rom my perspective that engaging in critiques, revisions, compromise etc. does not in any way imply that LAGER has not worked hard enough or that we don’t trust them. One pattern I see if that faculty are asked to take on big tasks, and when they present their ideas we can take a long time to reach consensus. And that can be an exhausting process for an exhausted faculty.

    I think it’s hard to be told to go create something “big” and “unique” without a clear understanding of resources, especially after we’ve endured several years of cuts. I continue to request that whatever we decide to pass has a clear budget with line items, and an identification of course releases etc. so that we are all explicit about what a new gen ed entails for faculty workload and support.

    If you’ve read my comments to here, thank you!

  9. In light of Dave’s most recent email re: tomorrow’s meeting, it occurs to me that we need to think radically. If we can get excited about change and embrace it, that would allow us to feel more creative toward our process. Further, if we can show and demonstrate this excitement among our faculty community, our process can feel invigorating to all. I like the idea of thinking big picture first re: model, then shaping that into what we want it to look like. We do tend to get caught up in all that is wrong rather than all that is right because we are critical thinkers.

    Also, I feel we might get too caught up in what we want rather than what prospective students want. How can we distinguish ourselves from other peer institutions? What kind of curriculum model can we embrace that steps outside of our norm and reaches further than we currently cast our nets? Can we consider taking the model that LAGER has given to us and re-naming or re-shaping it as needed? We know students are looking for real world experience, post-graduate outcomes, collaboration, academic rigor, and something different…or something unique. We need to create something that gets their attention and makes them psyched about coming here and being a part of a dynamic general education curriculum. My biggest fear at this point is that we’re striving to make a curriculum that looks very similar to the one we already have.

    I just wanted to put a plug in for saying we can do this. If we all come to the table with open hearts and minds we can definitely get our heads around something very exciting. While it’s been tough, we have one of the smartest groups of people teaching on this campus. This can truly be a community experience if we are willing to think largely and creatively. We might not all want the same small things, but I believe we all want innovation, creativity, and market value in our over-arching structure of the new curriculum. Go team!

  10. About this:

    Suggestions re: the query

    A good step might be to not write a letter to the community saying they shouldn’t get angry and yell at authority figures who repeatedly, publicly, and unapologetically misgender them because ‘it’s difficult’ and ‘he was trying.’

    *Friend speaks my mind.*