The Arizona Desert Lamp

White Paper: School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior

Posted in UA Transformation Plan by Evan Lisull on 23 October 2008

The School of Mind, Matter, and God Mind, Brain, and Behavior is almost exactly the same proposal written here, only written by the liberal arts community instead. Let the Mind Wars begin!

The exact same programs are grouped together under the School, which, “could stand alone or be part of a larger unit such as the College of Science or a newly merged College of Arts and Sciences or College of Science and Technology.” Lest you think that “College of Arts and Sciences” sounds like consolidation on crack, it’s worth noting that at Michigan, one of the Colleges is entitled “Literature, Science, and the Arts.” Microbiology majors share the same administrative staff as Comparative Lit majors. Berkeley similarly has a College of Letters and Sciences, which houses both Classics and Astrophysics. U. Virginia also has a College of Arts and Sciences. Centralization may sound bad, but it is the way of the future.

That being said, interdisciplinary-ism gets out of control in this proposal:

In addition to the core units, we envision affiliated units and affiliated faculty from multiple departments and colleges.  These affiliates would remain within their existing colleges and along with core faculty, would form clusters within the School based on shared curricular or research interests.  For example, one curricular cluster might include faculty from core units along with Communication, Family Studies and Human Development (FSHD), Linguistics and Philosophy, whose programs currently share similar or cross-listed courses with core departments. A biomedical or neuroscience research group might include faculty from Biomedical Engineering, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neurology, Pharmacology, Physiology, and Radiology.  One might also imagine a computational modeling cluster, with faculty from Computer Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Linguistics, and Philosophy, a social/cultural cluster and a health psychology cluster with faculty from Communication, FSHD, and Mexican-American Studies, and a cognition and consciousness grouping with Philosophy.

What, no Women’s Studies collaboration? Chauvinist pigs. At the risk of sounding repetitive, this happens naturally — no need to force it down instructors throats.

For undergraduates, the school proposes to offer the degrees of Psychology and Speech (one major), Language, and Hearing Sciences. Neurobiology would be offered as a minor. The proposal also offers a sly Gen Ed proposal:

We propose to develop an interdisciplinary Tier I course in Mind, Brain, and Behavior.  This course would have multiple sections that could be team-taught or rotated among faculty in the School as well as faculty from affiliated units.  The Mind, Brain, and Behavior course would cut across disciplinary boundaries and could be construed as Introductory to the sub-disciplines within the School. It would be offered as a two-semester Tier I class that would satisfy one requirement for both INDV and NATS.

While I appreciate the fact that freshmen may soon be able to take “Man, Matter, and God” at the same time as “Mind, Brain, and Behavior,” this leads to the sort-of generalized gen-eds that Connor hinted at in ASUA’s white paper proposal. I might disagree with him slightly on this, and this proposal helps to illustrate why. This is one step on the long march to the 6-unit General Education, consisting of a two-semester class entitled “Studies Studies.” Or, as an alternate title, “God, Matter, Thought, Life, Death, Theory, and Borneo.”

Surprisingly, the school will also be more competitive when it comes to research, and will outreach to the community.

Administration would also be conducted through a steering committee, but would be led by a School Director, who would be appointed from among the faculty by the Dean of whichever school the program actually ends up in.

A funny, and perhaps telling, dispatch from the Mind Wars, in the “Process of Consultation” section:

The proposal was discussed with Joaquin Ruiz, the Dean of the College of Science, who indicated that it fit well within the organizational structure of the College of Science

All your psychology are belong to us!

The School proposes to save money by eliminating 15 adjunct instructing positions (nine from psychology, six from Language and Hearing Sciences). The paper offers other proposals, one of which needs to be addressed:

Real-time Web-based sections of some Gen-Ed and large undergraduate classes could be added. This would increase the number of seats per section, and reduce the number of sections, without requiring additional resources, such as space or adjunct instructors.

I like where their heads are in terms of online classes, but I think that there’s a risk of undermining the whole General Education idea. Primarily, these are being taken by freshmen, who are new to the campus community — having them sit in front of their computer all day doesn’t really help to integrate them into broader campus life. If a large proportion of students only take classes for their major in person, then General Education becomes little more the bureaucratic loop that has to be jumped through, continuing the end of any sort of liberal arts education.

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  1. […] by Dr. Garcia is the  ”School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior,” which was proposed in this white paper. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Aaron Elyachar: ‘An uninformed […]


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