Arts & Sciences Council approves new foreign language pathway for students with disabilities, discusses new music minor

Arts & Sciences Council approved a proposal for alternative pathways through the foreign language requirement for students with disabilities, and heard a proposal for a new minor in music during its first meeting of the spring semester.

New foreign language pathway

In December, the Council heard a proposal for a plan to change Trinity College’s foreign language requirement for the small number of students who are certified by the Student Disability Access Office as having “extreme difficulty” learning a foreign language.

Disability accommodations for these students are legally mandated, but academic deans have had trouble finding ways to ensure that they complete the curricular requirement, resulting in students graduating without “technically fulfilling the curricular requirements,” said Professor of Physics Joshua Socolar, chair of the Council, at the December meeting. 

The proposal, which passed 23-0 with two members of the Council abstaining, changes the foreign language requirement to allow students to take three classes offered by a foreign language department that are taught in English.

A new minor in music

Faculty on the Council also heard a proposal for a new “listening-focused” minor in music. 

Jonathan Bagg, professor of the practice of music, presented the proposal to the Council. Bagg said that this new minor in music, if approved, would not replace the existing minor, but would instead offer a different focus for the study of music. 

The current music minor is “score-focused,” according to Bagg, and places a heavy emphasis on reading music, which makes it popular among Duke students who matriculate having already been trained classically.

“It is possible to start out with no background or ability to read music and end up completing this music minor but I would say it's rare for that to happen,” Bagg said. 

“Meanwhile, a lot of Duke students without classical training take music classes that don't require them to read music. Few of them, however, would currently consider music as a possible area of concentration,” he added, referring to students who have formed their own bands or create music on their computers as examples.

The music department has also hired new faculty members who teach courses that don’t depend on reading music or knowledge of “Western harmony” for their content. This has led to an area of the music department that would be “well-served by a different sort of music minor,” said Bagg.

The new minor, like the existing minor, will require a minimum of 5.5 credits. The new minor will have a “listening lab” class, which would mirror the existing minor’s music theory requirement. 

It will also require two semesters of artistic practice workshop, worth 0.25 credits each, which are analogous to the performance requirements in the existing, score-focused minor.

The artistic practice workshop requirement differs from the performance classes that already exist because the workshops can be individualized to the musical interests of each student. 

“We wanted students to be able to bring their own practice, their own kind of music making into the minor and have it acknowledged as part of their course of study,” Bagg said. 

The workshops would have three meetings where students would discuss their approved artistic endeavors with an instructor and each other. 

The new minor will also require that students take a cluster of “four related courses” in music. 

The Council will vote on whether to approve the proposal for the new minor in its meeting in February. If approved, the two minors would be given new names to reflect their respective “listening-focused” and “score-focused” requirements. 

In other business

The Council heard a presentation on research data management from John Dolbow, assistant vice president for research and professor in the department of mechanical engineering and materials science. 

The new data management policy requires faculty to have written data management plans when their research is funded from federal agencies. It also requires principal investigators to know and document who has access to research data, and to retain data for six years or the accepted standard in the faculty’s discipline. 

In terms of enforcement of these policies, Duke does not plan to internally audit its researchers at random, but at times, external organizations have requested that the University audit certain researchers. 

Marc Brettler, Bernice and Morton Lerner distinguished professor in Judaic studies, asked how the policy applied to faculty in the humanities. 

“What cases are humanists, people doing this type of research, expected to keep their data, which is from books, archives, and so forth?” he asked.

Dolbow responded, using the example of field notebooks as a possible data source for research in the humanities. 

“Duke is still going to ask you to retain that information for six years. As to whether or not we're going to ever access it, I think that that's probably unlikely.”

Adway S. Wadekar profile
Adway S. Wadekar | News Editor

Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity junior and former news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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