The independent news organization of Duke University

Letter to the editor

Dear all:

While I cannot claim to have insider knowledge of how ECASC and IDC set about making (and then un-making) procedural decisions, it is hard not to read the latest reversal announced by Sheryl Broverman today as a concession that there are too many votes arrayed against Blue Print. The stated reason for this latest adjustment of timing and procedure, to allow the Council to consider long discarded provisions of an earlier curricular proposal, will strike most observers as a disingenuous, not to say unseemly stratagem for buying time. Based on feedback that has reached me from my two home departments’ A&S Council representatives, and also factoring in what I have learned in extensive conversations with faculty across the humanities and in some social science departments, it has become clear that Blue Print is widely judged to be intrinsically and irremediably flawed. Meanwhile, the small number of units having expressed support for Blue Print have done so without any noticeable enthusiasm. It is time, then, for all concerned parties to accept and acknowledge that no amount of retrofitting or otherwise "amending" BluePrint can remedy the proposal's numerous and serious flaws. Indeed, the repeated delays of the A&S Council vote on BluePrint only underscore the proposal's widely perceived deficiencies.

Now, if after further tweaking of procedures and opportunistic timing of the inevitable A&S Council vote, Blue Print were to be adopted after all, perhaps sometime this Fall, it would almost certainly happen by the slimmest of margins. It should go without saying that, in the absence of a robust consensus and faculty buy-in, implementation of the proposal would face immense and likely insurmountable obstacles. Its long-term institutional effects would be profoundly divisive, and certainly not constructive in the way that a comprehensive curriculum ought to be.

The time has come for those laying claim to leadership at the University to acknowledge these realities and to abandon Blue Print for good. Further attempts at retrofitting it will look increasingly like so much political maneuvering destined to render BluePrint even more incoherent while also tainting faculty perception ofthe process that has led up to it. With the entire undertaking having reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns, the university ought to thank the current curriculum committee for its efforts, which I realize were considerable, and then dissolve it. Following a thorough analysis of what has caused the current process to miscarry, a new and representative faculty committee should be convened at the appropriate time for the purpose of developing a coherent, practicable, and dynamic curricular vision for Duke's future undergraduates.


Thomas Pfau

Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English

Professor & Chair of Germanic Languages & Literatures

Member - Duke Divinity School Faculty


Share and discuss “Letter to the editor ” on social media.