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St. Thomas University
Academic Planning Committee
Report to Senate, January 12, 2005.

January 27, 2005
Holy Cross House Conference Room
7:00 p.m.

I. Calendar Descriptions

a. Group C Steering Committee submitted the following description for Science and Technology Studies, to be included in the St. Thomas University Calendar, Section Four, under Science and Technology Studies:

Science and Technology Studies
The Goals of a Liberal Education as set out in the St. Thomas calendar includes the goal that students require a breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding. The value of a liberal education includes the ability to participate in the improvement of society by engaging in reasoned debate over important issues. For thousands of years, the original Seven Liberal Arts included science. Students in the humanities and social sciences need some meaningful exposure to science and technology. Ideally, this means not just basic scientific literacy and exposure to basic science courses, but also exposure to science and technology specifically from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences.

Science and technology play such a major role in our society and throughout the world that a person cannot be considered well-educated without possessing substantial knowledge about these subjects and the roles they play in such areas as the environment, medicine, disease, agriculture, cities, transportation and many others. Science and technology develop in a societal context. They both shape society and are shaped by that society. Whenever new scientific theories or new kinds of technology emerge, ethical issues inevitably arise. In addition, different cultures and different religious traditions have wide-ranging attitudes toward science and technology. This means there exists a role for students in the social sciences and humanities to play in debates over the value of new technology or new scientific theories.

Motion: That the description for Science and Technology Studies be adopted for inclusion in the St. Thomas University Calendar, Section Four, under the heading "Science and Technology Studies."

b. Group D Steering Committee submitted the following description for Fine Arts, to be included in the St. Thomas University Calendar, Section Four, under the heading Fine Arts.

Fine Arts
Artists have produced forms of human expression throughout history that embody cultural identities and values in unique ways. In order to understand how such forms may contribute to the constitutions of cultures, it is important to understand their historical context and how they express meaning. Each artistic discipline uses particular materials with distinct expressive qualities. The artist learns what the significant qualities of the materials are and how they may be manipulated to create and express meaning. Likewise, the receiver of the work must also possess a certain familiarity with the significant qualities of the material in order to actively find meaning, analyze, and appreciate the art form.

In keeping with the goals of a liberal education, Fine Arts aims to develop aesthetic literacy, to cultivate a critical awareness of the aesthetic dimensions of everyday life and culture, and to encourage an exploration of individual creative expression. Because students arrive at St. Thomas with different degrees of experience of the Fine Arts, the courses eligible for the Fine Arts requirement have been selected for their accessibility to people with a wide variety of experience in the particular disciplines.

Motion: That the description for Fine Arts be adopted for inclusion in the St. Thomas University Calendar, Section Four, under the heading "Fine Arts."

II. Great Ideas Honours Proposal

Last semester, the Great Ideas programme submitted a proposal to add an Honours programme to its offerings, that would begin in the Fall 2005 semester. After extensive consultation with the Academic Planning Committee, that led to a number of revisions or clarifications of the proposal, the Great Ideas Honours programme proposal is now consistent with other Honours programmes at St. Thomas University.

In the attached Great Ideas Honours proposal (and supplement), APC would like to draw attention to these highlights:

  • The proposed Honours seminar (GRID 4003), as well as all of the major Great Ideas courses can be offered within the current 5.5 course allocation.
  • The Great Ideas Honours Programme entrance requirements are reasonably within the range of other Honours Programmes at St. Thomas University.
  • The requirement of 54 credit hours in Great Ideas or "approved courses" is consistent with other Honours Programmes at St. Thomas University.
  • That students take an additional 6 credit hours at the 3000 or 4000 level "from at least one other department" may promote the interdisciplinary objectives of the Great Ideas Programme, without imposing hardship on other departments/programmes within the University.
  • The Great Ideas Programme makes convincing arguments that students interested in going on to graduate programmes (in the same or cognate area of study) would benefit from a Great Ideas Honours option, rather than pursuing an Interdisciplinary Honours through the Senate approval mechanism.

Recommendation: The Academic Planning Committee recommends the adoption of the Great Ideas Honours Programme for adoption, but notes that the proposed courses (GRID 4006,GRID 4003, GRID 3403) will require Curriculum Committee approval.

Motion: Senate adopt the proposed Great Ideas Honours Programme for inclusion at St. Thomas University beginning in the Fall Semester of 2005.