Say goodbye to Frontiers of Science—a new science course for the Core Curriculum is officially in the works.
A 17-member committee of faculty and students will begin the process of designing the new course on Monday. Columbia College Dean James Valentini announced the committee, which will be co-chaired by environmental science professor Peter deMenocal and philosophy professor Philip Kitcher, on his blog on Friday.
The Educational Policy and Planning Committee spent last year evaluating Frontiers. In its extensive report, published by Spectator in June, the EPPC advised major revisions for the course, including an end to the lecture portion and a standardized curriculum for the discussion seminars.
“The charter of that committee was to see if Frontiers of Science should be continued in its current form, or if we should do something else,” Valentini said in an interview on Friday. “And it said we should do something else.”
The new committee had its first introductory meeting last week. Astronomy professor Jacqueline van Gorkom, a former seminar instructor from Frontiers, is the only committee member to have also served on the EPPC's review committee.
The committee also includes Gareth Williams, the chair of the classics department and the former chair of Literature Humanities; Martin Chalfie, a biology professor; Donald Hood, a psychology professor; Jenny Davidson, a professor of English literature; Violet Nieves, CC ’15; Ari Schuman, CC ’15; Emma Dell, GSAS ’15; and Cliff Massey, CC ’10.
While the committee will have access to the EPPC's recommendations, Valentini said that it doesn't have to start with Frontiers as a base—it can design an entirely new course.
“It's starting without predicate,” Valentini said. “It can design a course of any kind, in any way, designed at achieving our objectives.”
Those objectives include better integrating the course with the rest of the Core Curriculum, particularly Contemporary Civilization, and finding a structure that is more engaging to students.
“I don't want it to stand apart,” Valentini said. “Being conceptually integrated with the rest of the Core is a really important factor to me.”