The undergraduate deans of the College, Wharton and Engineering and a representative from the Nursing School came to Houston Hall yesterday to share opinions and criticisms of the undergraduate education system. The discussion, sponsored by the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, drew an audience of about 20 students. The discussion covered the goals of a college education, comparing a general education to specialized majors, and the undergraduate deans discussed their personal educational experiences. College Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Norman Adler offered a metaphor on the conflict between pre-professional and liberal arts majors. "The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows only one very well," Adler said. "This is the tension between general education and pre-professionalism. It is necessary to strike a balance between the two." Assistant to the President Nicholas Constan explained the three "tools of he trade" in education -- "reading, writing and thinking." He then said that the true goal an education is to develop the thought process "in any educational environment." Wharton Vice Dean Janice Bellace said that only two of the classes she took in college are useful to her today, both of which were not in her major. Bellace stressed that students often ignore many potentially rewarding courses that are not in their areas of specialization. "People tend to avoid courses they think they wouldn't get an 'A' in," Bellace said. "Part of the general requirement's goal is to encourage people to take courses they normally wouldn't take." The most heated point of the discussion came when former SCUE Chairperson Gwen Campbell challenged the deans and the general requirement system. "Five years ago, when the deans were asked what education was, their answer was general requirements," Wharton senior Campbell said. "I'm a member of the senior class who went through them . . . It's a little difficult to have educational coherency with the general requirement program." Adler's reaction to Campbell's criticism was mocked surprise, and said the administration is working to improve the coherence of the educational process. Michael Dal Bello and Hallie Levin, co-chairpersons of the SCUE Deans Forum, said they were pleased with the student turnout and the ensuing discussion. Dal Bello explained that the debate format may have misled the audience into expecting conflict among the speakers. "We never expected it to be a debate," he said. "We expected a friendly discussion where we could share the thoughts of the professors. I think we accomplished that." John Keenan, associate dean of the Engineering School, was also present for the discussion. The discussion today was part of Education Week, a series of SCUE events intended to bridge the gap between faculty and students.Comments powered by Disqus
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