For fuller context regarding the new undergraduate curriculum, please feel free to explore the past presentations page.
We would like to begin this update by thanking those of you who filled out the survey of interest in first-year teaching. These responses will help us to assign faculty to appropriate courses for 2013/2014. As in the past, faculty will be scheduled for courses based on qualifications, course and schedule preferences, and seniority, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the university and the Local 7902 ACT-UAW. As you may already know, CUE has expanded to include a number of coordinators who have been instrumental in our continued refinement of the first-year curriculum and have been playing an indispensable role in discussing the courses with many of you. We hope that you continue to use us as a resource. Please refer to the list of CUE coordinators at the end of this email if you would like to direct any questions specifically. You can also send an email to CUE in general at email@example.com.
First-Year Course Workshops and Keywords
In October we held two large workshops attended by about 190 faculty members. The format allowed each participant to join discussions and brainstorms related to two of the four courses being workshopped and to share ideas about the many ways that projects might be envisioned within the curriculum. The result was not only a lively discussion but also the formation of a valuable pool of ideas that has enabled us to assemble the keywords for many of the first-year courses. As you may recall, the courses are designed to enable choice for students while at the same time maintaining the transferable outcomes and skills that can be carried into the second year. Many of the courses will have themes (or keywords) that a student can select based on his or her interests. You can review the keywords here.
First-Year Resource Site
The keywords link above takes you to a new CUE Resources Site that we hope will act not only as a place where we all can find resources and inspiration as we plan our courses, but also as a hub that allows us to continue to share our project ideas, presentations, and handouts and create an ongoing dialogue around the courses in the first year. While it is new and in development, we hope that you explore a bit to consider the ways that it might be helpful to you. We will continue to send announcements out about this resource, which we hope will become a central tool as we move forward.
As mentioned in the October 19 email sent to all faculty and titled 2013-2014 Faculty Assignment Process: First-Year Courses, CUE will offer a series of development workshops focused on skills and teaching tools related to the courses in the first year. The first selection of offerings will be held over winter break between the 14th and the 26th of January. Development opportunities will continue throughout the spring and summer. You can find the calendar of workshops and sign-up forms here.
Sessions will be offered on the following topics:
Please note that spaces are first-come first-served.
Liberal Arts in the First-Year Curriculum
In addition to shaping our studio courses through the workshopping process, we are continuing to refine the two liberal arts requirements in the first-year curriculum. This has resulted in the retitling of these two courses: A History of the World Told Through Objects is now Objects as History: Prehistory to Industrialization, and Sustainable Energy Systems is now Sustainable Systems. We look forward to sharing further detail about these courses with you in workshops planned for the spring.
Last month, we sent an overview of the process and timeline for faculty course assignments for the 2013 first-year curriculum. To aid in this process, we are requesting that you respond to this survey. The survey asks a series of brief questions regarding your interest in teaching in the first year and, if interested, your preference of first-year courses. Before completing the survey, we ask that you review the teaching qualifications for each of the first-year courses.
The survey will permit you to declare an interest in teaching in the first year and enable course leadership to contact you about assignments and development opportunities. As in the past, assignments will be made based on faculty qualifications and experience and seniority in accordance with the Collective Bargaining agreement between the University and the ACT-UAW Local 7902.
The survey and course teaching qualifications can be found here: tinyurl.com/parsons-first-year.
We ask that you respond to this survey no later than Monday, November 26, 2012, though we do encourage earlier responses if possible.
This message provides details regarding the process and timeline for faculty course assignments for the first year of the undergraduate curriculum, 2013–2014. To follow is a timeline reflecting the major events of this process. The process is designed both to survey faculty as to their interest in teaching in the first year as well as to provide opportunities to discuss the courses with academic leadership. As in the past, faculty assignments will be made based on faculty seniority and qualifications in accordance with the Collective Bargaining agreement between the University and the ACT-UAW Local 7902.
If you have specific questions about the curriculum, please feel free to contact a school-based coordinator or first-year course coordinator. If you have questions about your faculty status, baseload, etc., please send an inquiry to Meredith Mullane, Assistant Dean for Part-time Faculty (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We will be hosting workshops this semester to continue the development of the Parsons first-year curriculum. We encourage you, as faculty from all schools, programs, and years of Parsons, to join us for active discussions and to share your expertise. Two sessions of the first-year course workshop will be offered. In order to be as flexible as possible, these have been scheduled to take place in the evening or on a weekend to accommodate teaching schedules. Each session will be devoted to the same content. Please RSVP using the links provided below:
Workshop session 1
Saturday, October 13, 11:00 am–2:00 pm
66 Fifth Avenue, Room 603
Workshop session 2
Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 pm–10:00 pm
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor
What are the goals of the workshop?
The first is to update and familiarize faculty interested in teaching the first-year curriculum with the overarching content and framework of each of the studio courses.
The second objective of the workshop is to explore the ways that our diverse expertise as faculty and practitioners can impact the choices available to our students. Because one of the guiding principles of the Parsons curriculum is to provide opportunities for students to pursue different paths in completing their degrees, it is critical that we offer courses that reflect a broad range of interests. The workshop provides an opportunity for you to brainstorm the inflections that various projects and courses can take.
The workshop is also an opportunity to participate in the discussion and formulation of keywords that will guide students in their course selection. Following the workshop, the curriculum coordinators in each school will work with CUE and program leadership to determine a set of keywords for each first-year course. These keywords will represent a variety of experiences at Parsons and The New School, and will provide a way for students to distinguish their interest in the various sections that will be offered for each course. Please note that not all keywords generated during the workshop sessions will be selected, but the pool will be reviewed, words compared and grouped, and an appropriately diverse set of words chosen for each course.
The courses that we will workshop in these sessions are:
Additional workshop sessions will be held for:
Preparing for the workshop
The workshops will be an active forum to exchange and develop ideas. Because of the limited amount of time, we ask that you do some preparation before attending:
We hope that you will join us for one of the workshop dates and work with us in this pivotal moment in the development of Parsons’ undergraduate curriculum.
First, we are pleased to announce that we recently received confirmation that the curricular materials submitted by Parsons were approved by both NASAD and NYSED. You can view the working course descriptions and curriculum charts on the newly restructured CUE website, which has been redesigned with more navigation options and access to materials related to the Parsons curriculum, including a timeline of the curriculum process.
CUE Workshops, Spring 2012*
The Committee on Undergraduate Education offered a total of eleven workshops this past spring to orient faculty to the Parsons first-year courses. We received 307 sign-ups for these sessions. From these sign ups, 223 attended the workshops, and many of these were faculty that joined multiple sessions to better understand the courses across the curriculum. In the Q&A that ended each session, faculty were able to ask questions about the courses and their relationship to the rest of the courses in the first year. These comments, along with those submitted via an online feedback survey, provided valuable information that will help us to continue to refine the courses and to prepare for workshops with faculty in the upcoming fall semester. If you were unable to attend the workshops, we have posted videos of each session on the Course Development Workshops archive page. You can also find each video on its corresponding first-year course page.
* For those of you who have not entered your comments about the courses, we still encourage you to send us your observations via the online form at http://tinyurl.com/cuefeedbackform.
Workshops for 2012–13
We will be delivering a new series of workshops in the coming academic year and we hope that you will join us. The workshops will fall into four categories:
The next CUE memo will be dedicated primarily to information regarding the coordination structure for the curriculum rolling out in 2013. CUE is working with the executive dean and school deans to finalize a structure that will aid in the implementation, oversight, and assessment of the first-year curriculum and set the stage for coordination practices that will aid in the delivery of courses in the sophomore through senior year.
During the Parsons all-faculty meeting on Tuesday, February 14, we announced a series of sessions offered by CUE that will act as an introduction to the courses in the first-year curriculum, which will roll out in Fall 2013. The sign-up sheet for these sessions is available at http://www.wejoinin.com/sheets/sscgq.
Please note that, due to space constraints, each session is limited to 25 participants. If you would like to sign up for a session that has already filled, you may add your name to the overflow list and we will schedule additional sessions when we have reached an adequate number of participants. Once the new event is arranged we will email you with a new date and location.
The goal of these sessions is to provide information about the courses in the first year so faculty can understand them in relation to the new 120-credit curriculum as well as their own teaching and practice. These information meetings will provide a necessary backdrop to development work that will happen in Fall 2012, so we will also document these meetings and make them accessible online for any faculty unable to attend in person.
Please visit the course pages to view their descriptions (all course descriptions are taken directly from the accreditation documents that are being submitted to the state) and to help you select the sessions. You are welcome to attend multiple session dates.
Now that we are in the final weeks of the semester, the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) would like to update you on the work that has been done this fall on the new curriculum. This memo, the third in a series of communications from our committee, will focus on the following topics: progress toward our accreditation, syllabus development for first-year courses, future faculty development opportunities, and the Parsons learning portfolio.
One of our committee's current tasks has been to work with school and program leadership and the Dean's Office to prepare reaccreditation materials for a late February submission to the state (NYSED). These materials, which will be reviewed by the Provost's Office over winter break, also form part of a more comprehensive package of materials that will be submitted by the Parsons Dean's Office to NASAD (the National Association of Schools of Art and Design). We are on target to meet the deadlines with these materials, which will consist of each program's curricular framework along with sample syllabi for required courses. Our goal with these framing documents is to provide materials flexible enough for continued curricular innovation, and adaptable to change, in the years that lie before us.
It is important to stress that these documents will also be flexible enough to allow for further development as we move toward our Fall 2013 curriculum launch. This is an absolute necessity. We will continue to consult faculty to shape the materials, even after the accreditation materials have been submitted. As you will recall, the courses that make up the first-year curriculum will ultimately be delivered through all five of the schools that make up Parsons; the goal in having the first-year studios taught through the schools is to allow the schools' cultures to inflect them within their disciplines. This is important as we continue to work on the templates so they become guiding documents that will support programs, coordinators, and faculty. At the same time, we must assure that the cross-disciplinary and integrative learning that characterizes much of our current first year learning is advanced. Therefore, we must produce materials that will help us to design and deliver courses that meet the outcomes of the first year regardless of the school that hosts them.
This semester we were joined by a group of twelve part-time and twelve full-time faculty members who worked with us on the next stage of development for the first-year courses. We asked this group of faculty to write syllabi based on preliminary course description templates provided by CUE. The goal of this stage in the process has been to test the level of flexibility that the course templates provide and, conversely, to understand what kinds of support will need to be put in place to ensure that the courses will deliver transferable learning outcomes. This is an important point, as the first year must lay a groundwork that enables our students to successfully move into their second year regardless of the major they choose to pursue.
The writers put in many hours of hard work, and every school's curriculum committee is currently reviewing the documents that were created. Once the reviews have been completed, we will collect the comments and incorporate them into new iterations of the syllabus templates that capture the concerns and suggestions of the reviewers. Ultimately our goal is to refine the materials so that they can be submitted to the state, and also to create new documents for future work with faculty.
Faculty workshops and development
Next semester, CUE will be hosting information sessions and workshops to help orient faculty to the new curriculum that will roll out in Fall 2013. The purpose of these sessions, which will be led by full- and part-time facultyto provide information about the new courses and an opportunity to get feedback from fellow faculty members. While the workshops have yet to be finalized, our goal is to provide information about how faculty can prepare to teach within the new curriculum and what kinds of development opportunities will be available to faculty in 2012 and 2013. Additionally, we will offer sessions that look at the curriculum from the perspective of shifting ideas of teaching and learning as well as the themes that are important to both Parsons and The New School, such as ecological literacy, cultural literacy, and digital literacy. We will also present the progress that is being made on the Parsons Learning Portfolio.
We will continue to create and announce opportunities for faculty to get involved with the new curriculum throughout the remaining three semesters leading up to our launch, and we hope that you will be able to join us. In the spirit of openness and full transparency, we will also document these sessions and make that documentation available to all faculty online.
The Learning Portfolio
As mentioned, one of the sessions will focus on the learning portfolio. Here is some information about the work that is being done on this new component of the Parsons undergraduate experience. The Parsons Portfolio Committee was formed in the fall of 2011, after Cynthia Lawson (SDS) and Robert Rabinowitz (SDS) received funding for the initiative from the SDS Research, Scholarship, and Creative Practice (RSCP) committee and the Provost's Academic Events Fund. The group is chaired by Lawson, and its other members include Melanie Crean (AMT), Anne Gaines (SPACE), Minh Le (MFA Transdisciplinary Design student, SDS), Hirumi Nanayakkara (MFA Design and Technology student, AMT), Rabinowitz, and Evan You (MFA Design and Technology student, AMT). The group's mission is to consider how an online learning portfolio system could be designed and integrated into Parsons' new undergraduate curriculum to promote reflection and contextualization across different areas of student learning. The goals for the fall have been to research existing online portfolio strategies across Parsons and a range of outside organizations, and to create a wire frame, or sketch, of the platform layout to prepare for the creation of an initial prototype.
The Parsons Portfolio would be a collection of a student's work and learning. The contents could be written, audiovisual, numeric, or time-based, and will include examples of both process and final product. The work in the portfolio will be framed and contextualized by the student over their four-year education, keeping in mind the learning goals and competencies of the courses in which the work was developed. Additionally the platform will provide a flexible new assessment tool to frame one's own work, make learning visible, promote reflection, and facilitate peer and faculty evaluation.
Thank you for your continued input into this important and exciting process. Happy holidays, and we look forward to working with you in 2012.
This memo is the second in a series that communicates the ongoing development of the new undergraduate curriculum to the Parsons community. Please note that the curriculum will be also presented at the all-faculty meeting tomorrow, September 27, at 10:00 am.
The Committee on Undergraduate Education held a series of workshops last spring to refine the new curriculum that is scheduled to roll out in the Fall 2013 semester. These workshops, which included both full-time and part-time members of our faculty, provided valuable feedback that has continued to inform the structure of the Parsons' new first-year curriculum. We would like to take this opportunity to give you a brief overview of the work that was accomplished and describe some of the tasks that lie before us.
In the series of workshops held this past May and June, CUE worked with the five schools' Directors of Academic Affairs, their school curriculum committees, and a group of ten part-time faculty members from across Parsons. After finalizing the course structure of the new first year, the working groups roughed out the parameters of four course themes within the first-year curriculum: Drawing/Imaging, Space/Materiality, Time, and a paired Integrative Studio and Integrative Seminar. All work was guided by learning outcomes and learning domains that were developed to ensure consistency among the various courses and to define the attributes of a first-year Parsons student.
We are currently in the process of convening new working groups consisting of full-time and part-time faculty to further develop the course themes as well as a first-year art and design history course. At the end of this process, we will have sample syllabi for each course theme written by full-time and part-time faculty from Parsons. These documents will help to inform the continued development work that will take place in the school curriculum committees and will also provide materials necessary for our accreditation with the state.
We have also been working with Parsons leadership in the schools and in the Dean's Office to prepare documents for accreditation with both NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) and NYSED (New York State Education Department). These documents, to be submitted to the Provost's Office this winter, outline the overall structure of every one of our programs. The curriculum reflects the goal of providing our students with the opportunity to pursue a variety of different paths at Parsons from a deep disciplinary approach to one that is interdisciplinary and explores other programs, or courses in other divisions. The new structure also opens up the possibility of selecting a minor or a concentration. The types of minors and concentrations that would be offered by schools are currently in discussion.
CUE is working with a committee led by Cynthia Lawson (School of Design Strategies), along with Anne Gaines (Summer Pre-college Academy and Continuing Education) and Robert Rabinovitz (School of Design Strategies) to research how learning portfolios might be integrated into the undergraduate curriculum. A learning portfolio is, in essence, a place in which a student can, at various stages, present his or her process and work. The learning portfolio would include all forms of creation, from writing, to drawing, to a variety of digital media, and provide a place to reflect on experience and growth. It can also act as another assessment platform and a method by which faculty can better understand a student's experience. While there are many forms that a learning portfolio might take, we are interested in developing a structure that fits the wide-ranging needs within our institution and is flexible enough to allow for ongoing innovation as Parsons continues to evolve.
The learning portfolio group has hired three graduate students to evaluate recent pilot programs run in SPACE and SDS, to investigate the use of learning portfolios at peer institutions, and to test a range of current portfolio platforms. This group will model scenarios of how portfolios might be integrated and evaluated within the curricular, advising, and technical infrastructure at Parsons, and continue with prototyping initiatives, before recommending a larger Parsons-wide strategy.
We will discuss the work we have done so far and elaborate on the shape of the new curriculum at tomorrow's meeting. We look forward to your questions and comments at that time.
In May 2010, Dean Joel Towers held two town hall meetings to introduce the broader Parsons community to a new undergraduate curricular structure that had been conceived through an exhaustive review process. The video and audio files of—and presentation materials for—last year's town hall meetings are available below.
The changes recommended by the undergraduate review can be grouped under the following mandates: to reframe our curriculum to allow for both disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary breadth by providing students with greater flexibility in their paths to their undergraduate degree, and to moderate the workload of undergraduate students. The latter mandate is intended to allow students to take full advantage of New York City's creative environment, and to increase their ability to think critically about their subject material. A greater emphasis on critical thinking is also reflected in the development of a new type of course—the critical studio—and in an increased focus on self-assessment and reflection that the introduction of learning portfolios will provide.
The mandates that will be implemented as outlined in the original May 2010 Town Hall document are:
In January 2011, Joel Towers and the school deans charged the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) to implement the agreements arrived at through the review. The committee is comprised of one faculty member from each school at Parsons:
We began our work in late January by reviewing the materials generated by the internal and external reviews and committees that have preceded us, and then comparing these materials to the current programs and degrees offered at Parsons. To understand the shape of this new curriculum we have consulted with the curriculum committees from the five schools, as well as leadership in part-time faculty, academic planning, advising, civic engagement, curriculum and instruction, distributed learning and technology, sustainability, student affairs, and pre-college and continuing education. A priority has been to reflect upon not only the needs of our many programs, but also Parsons' and The New School's commitment to issues of sustainability and cultural awareness.
Additionally, we assessed the time frame required for developing a new first-year experience, and with it the materials needed for accreditation and promotion. Critical dates for the new undergraduate curriculum rollout are the accreditation document submission deadlines for NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design, a national accrediting agency for art and design and art- and design-related disciplines) and NYSED (New York State Education Department, the state agency that registers all of our programs across the University), as well as our in-house publication and recruiting timelines. The latter deadlines are crucial to informing potential students about our programs and courses. All this considered, we recommend a Fall 2013 launch for the new undergraduate curriculum. The Parsons leadership has accepted this recommendation.
The newly designed curriculum will roll out sequentially, following the students that
enter Parsons in 2013:
CUE's current priority is the newly redesigned first-year curriculum. With that in mind, toward the end of May and the beginning of June, CUE is working with the five school curriculum committees to refine learning outcomes for the first-year curriculum. Learning outcomes, as defined by Middle States (the association that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region) are "the knowledge, skills, and competencies that students are expected to exhibit upon successful completion of a course, academic program, co-curricular program, general education requirement, or other specific set of experiences." Learning outcomes not only clarify the goals of a course or program, but they also give us the tools to assess a student's learning. This is especially important as we design a first-year curriculum that will allow students to move, without penalty, into their studies in their second year.
On May 19, May 26, June 1, and June 2, CUE is hosting a series of workshops to finalize the work on learning outcomes and to frame them in relation to the four-year degrees in all of the programs at Parsons. Additionally we will engage with the first-year course themes and lay the groundwork for course development that will take effect in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.
Call for Participants
The insights and expertise of the Parsons faculty are crucial to this process. With that in mind, we invite faculty to take part in the June 1st workshop on first-year course development. Our aim is to include a range of faculty that can represent many aspects of the Parsons experience. We invite volunteers and the nomination of part-time faculty participants that might join us on Wednesday June 1. Faculty will be compensated for their participation in these events. While space in this first workshop is limited to ten faculty members, it is important to understand that there will be more opportunities in the upcoming academic year for faculty to get involved in course development.
The dates and times of the workshops are:
You may volunteer or nominate faculty by filling out this form: tinyurl.com/cueworkshop.
The deadline for nominations and volunteers is Monday, May 23.
You will be informed of the participants by Wednesday, May 25.
Periodically, we will circulate updates on the implementation phase of the Parsons undergraduate review. We welcome your feedback and participation in this important process.