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The Evolving Curriculum

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New opportunities reflect faculty innovation

Through changes both dramatic and incremental, Dartmouth faculty are always updating and refining the undergraduate curriculum. This winter, Professor Carol Folt, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, announced four curricular initiatives: undergraduate-focused business courses taught by Tuck School of Business faculty, a new minor in international studies, the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, and a Thayer School of Engineering exchange program in Bangkok, Thailand.

ThayerThe first participants in a new Thayer School of Engineering exchange program with Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Program Director and Professor of Engineering Francis Kennedy (center) with (from left) Casey Stelmach '10, Charnice Barbour '10, and Chulalongkorn students Kitbodee Prakoonsuksapan, Vinyu Kultavewuti, and Salilla Kulwirottama. The Dartmouth students are in Thailand this winter; the Thai students spent fall term in Hanover. "Dartmouth has allowed me to do a lot of amazing things," says Barbour, who has also studied abroad in Rome, Italy. (All photos by Joseph Mehling '69)
A new course, program, minor, or major is the result of a thorough and thoughtful process. Moving from departmental to divisional approval, concepts and content are discussed and refined by faculty colleagues. Both the Committee on Instruction (COI), which ultimately acts on all changes to the arts and sciences curriculum, and the Committee on Off-Campus Activities (COCA), which routinely reviews every off-campus program, include faculty from all academic divisions who meet biweekly during the academic year.
More about the arts and sciences at Dartmouth
"Faculty are stretching the boundaries of their disciplines and are changing their courses to reflect this new knowledge-by continually updating syllabi or creating new courses or curricular paths," comments COI Chair Scott Pauls, associate professor of mathematics. "Over the past three years, the committee approved a new major, modified another one, established eight new minors, and reviewed more than 630 courses."

Students also play an important role in this process. Two undergraduates serve as non-voting members of the COI. "It was really exciting for me," says Zach Stolzenberg '11, from Melville, N.Y., a student member of the COI, "to see the breadth and depth of courses offered at Dartmouth and to learn just how much thought goes into creating each one."

"Sitting on the COI, I am struck by the energy and enthusiasm of our faculty, who are continually challenging our students and incorporating new approaches to teaching," says Folt. "Even in a time of budget constraints, we continue to look for ways to innovate and strengthen our curriculum. At Dartmouth, we are especially fortunate that the undergraduate curriculum can benefit from close partnerships with our professional school colleagues, interdisciplinary centers such as the Dickey Center for International Understanding, and the generous support of donors to bring these new opportunities to our students."

Business Savvy

"What I love about Dartmouth is that it allows students to follow an academic passion in college, but provides enough of a foundation to go on to pursue a different one as a career," says Kimberly Harris '09. Harris is anticipating a career in finance after completing her philosophy degree. She's also looking forward to taking "Financial Accounting" with Assistant Professor of Business Administration Robert Resutek this spring, the first course for undergraduates to be taught by a Tuck School of Business faculty member.


The Tuck School of Business will offer undergraduate courses for the first time this spring.

These courses are "just one more way for undergraduates to have access to Dartmouth's exceptional professional school faculty," says Michael Mastanduno, associate dean of the faculty for the social sciences and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government. "Through this initiative, we hope to expose undergraduates to the core theories and principles of business behavior within the national and international socioeconomic environment."

"Financial Accounting" will first be offered in spring term, with two additional courses-"Principles of Marketing" and "Business Management and Strategy"-to be added in subsequent years. The courses have no prerequisites, can be taken independently of each other in any order, and are open to all students regardless of major. At present, priority will be given to students by class year, with seniors receiving the highest priority.

"We at Tuck are looking forward to this additional cooperation across the campus. Our goal in designing these courses is to complement the Dartmouth educational experience and, in particular, to give students insights into the interactions of business and society," says Paul Danos, dean of the Tuck School.

Alex Cook '09, vice president of the Dartmouth Black Business Association, also plans to take the spring term accounting course. Cook's goal is to work in investment banking after completing his degree in African and African American studies with a minor in art history. "This will enable students to take advantage of the unmatched resources at Tuck while still enjoying the world-class liberal arts education at the College," he says.

The Tuck initiative is made possible through generous contributions from Susan and Richard Braddock '63, '90P and '94P; Barbara and Brad Evans '64, '96P and '99P; Sandra and Arthur Irving '72A, '10P; Beverly and Robert Koski '51; and James Silcock '72, Tuck '73.

International Opportunities

Engineering is the focus of a new exchange program with the International School of Engineering at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. The program began last fall with the arrival of three Thai students at Dartmouth. In January, the first Dartmouth students-Casey Stelmach '10 and Charnice Barbour '10-departed for two terms of study in Bangkok.

"Through this program, students are gaining valuable international experience, which will help them build their careers in a global economy," says Joseph Helble, dean of Thayer School of Engineering.

"This exchange also gives our students more breadth of study, as many engineering courses available at Chulalongkorn are not offered at Dartmouth," says Program Director Francis Kennedy, professor of engineering. Students receive basic instruction in Thai language;  engineering courses are taught in English.

Several additional off-campus opportunities will soon be available. A term-long exchange with the Underwood International College at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, will first be offered in fall 2009. The program is open to all majors. In addition to Korean language classes, courses taught in English include Korean studies, international relations, political science, economics, and business.

Another new foreign study program, to be based at the University of Hyderabad, India,  has been approved and is awaiting funding. It is co-sponsored by the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program and the Women's and Gender Studies Program.

A Global Perspective

"Environmental change, global health crises, poverty, terrorism, and issues of war and peace transcend boundaries by their very nature," says Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. "They cannot be understood in isolation or analyzed from a single disciplinary perspective."

Lisa Adams, assistant professor of medicine, co-teaches "Global Health and Society" (Geography 2), one of the core courses for a new minor in international studies. "This course attracts students with varied interests-some are premed, some are interested in public health research, while others will pursue careers in health policy," says Adams.
The College's newly approved international studies minor, which will be administered by the Dickey Center, formalizes a way for students to complement their majors with the study of the global forces that shape the vital issues of our day. International studies courses will be drawn from disciplines including government, geography, and comparative literature.

"This new minor capitalizes on two long-standing strengths of our faculty-their interdisciplinary scholarship and their diverse international perspectives," says Lindsay Whaley, associate dean of the faculty for international and interdisciplinary programs and professor of classics and linguistics. "The faculty has been looking to do this for a long time, and I'm thrilled to see their efforts come to fruition."

The international studies initiative was made possible by generous gifts from Karen Niehaus, Tuck '89, and Joseph Niehaus '85; Lori and Christopher Niehaus '81, '10P and '12P; and an anonymous donor. Additional funding is provided by the Dickey Center.

Writing and Rhetoric

Dartmouth launched the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric in January 2008. Its mission is to "foster students' abilities as writers, persuasive speakers, and critical thinkers," says Christiane Donahue, institute director and associate professor of linguistics.

Joseph Anthony '12 reviews his "Expository Writing" paper on the ownership of choreography with Professor Christiane Donahue, director of the new Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. Course readings consider concepts including intellectual property and originality. "We often discuss new media and the way that it affects ownership," says Anthony. "The class takes on issues that are important to our generation."

Communication-both written and verbal-is a cornerstone of a Dartmouth liberal arts education. Our goal was to bring both speech and writing together, and our faculty is developing a unique and integrated approach to teaching both," says Dean Carol Folt.

New courses in advanced writing, speech, and rhetoric join the first-year writing courses that were the hallmark of the College's previous Writing Program.

"Understanding scientific information is not the same as being able to write about it," says Jessica Lane '09, a neuroscience major and Spanish minor who hopes to become a neurosurgeon. "I felt it would be remiss to put so much time and energy into learning about science, without ever learning how to convey that information back to the scientific community and the public."

That belief led Lane to "The Art of Science Writing," one of three new upper-level writing courses. "The Written Judicial Opinion" and "Writing with Media" are new to the curriculum as well.

The institute is also home base for new courses in speech. Lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric Josh Compton is teaching "Public Speaking" each term this year, as well as "Persuasive Public Speaking" winter term and "Speechwriting" next spring.

"Rhetoric enjoys a historic role in liberal arts education," notes Compton. "It's a study with ancient roots and contemporary relevance. How we share what we know, and even how we know what we know, is inextricably tied to how we talk about our ideas."

This initiative was made possible in part through generous contributions from the Class of 1962.


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Last Updated: 2/22/09