Admins look to revamp QS code in curriculum

Although Curriculum 2000 has been simplified since its debut a decade ago, faculty and administrators still see room for improvement.

A Trinity College committee, for example, is reviewing the Quantitative Studies requirement and trying to refine its meaning. QS is a course coding that marks one of the five Areas of Knowledge students must satisfy.

“We actually don’t have a definition of what quantitative literacy means here at Duke,” said Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs of Trinity College.

The committee will submit a preliminary report to Baker by the end of this semester, and a final report by the end of the Fall 2010 semester.

No committee is currently evaluating Curriculum 2000 as a whole, but several administrators said they would support re-evaluations of various aspects of the curriculum.

Provost Peter Lange said the curriculum may benefit from a review of some course designations over a period of several years. He noted, in particular, that the Cross Cultural Inquiry course designation is among the most vague.

“It’s the area with the most courses under it and it’s my sense that it may be the one that could best benefit from a review,” he said.

Professor of psychology Robert Thompson helped draft Curriculum 2000 during his tenure as the dean of Trinity College. He said it would be worthwhile to incorporate innovation and interdisciplinarity into the curriculum, noting that these two skills would suit societal developments that have occurred since the curriculum was created.

Ingeborg Walther, associate dean of Trinity College and director of the Office of Curriculum and Course Development, thinks that the attitudes of students toward the curriculum are as important as the individual course requirements.

“Many students see the curriculum as more of a system of hoops to jump through rather than a systematic development of skills and abilities they will need for their future,” she wrote in an e-mail. “This should also be addressed in any re-thinkings of the curriculum.”

Since its introduction, Curriculum 2000 has undergone formal review once, in 2004, after the first class to fulfill the requirements graduated.  

With these revisions, Quantitative Studies was added to the Areas of Knowledge, joining Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Civilization and Arts, Literature and Performance. Correspondingly, the number of courses students were required to take in each area decreased from three to two, so that these contributed 10, rather than 12, classes to a student’s course load. The number of required Modes of Inquiry courses also dropped, to 12 from 16.

When the curriculum was introduced in 2000, changes included the replacement of the University Writing Course with Writing 20 and the establishment of a foreign language requirement.  

“We wanted to assure that the curriculum would push students outside of their intellectual comfort zone,” said Lange, who chaired the committee that created Curriculum 2000.

Administrators may have ideas about changes to the curriculum, but Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, said those decisions are ultimately made by the faculty.

He added that this does not rule out student input. In fact, the committee that created Curriculum 2000 held two student forums prior to introducing the curriculum.

Several administrators said the curriculum will not undergo big changes any time soon, regardless of the suggestions made by members of the Duke community,

“[Curriculum 2000] enables evolution rather than transformation,” Thompson said.


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