New Course Approval Procedure

Procedure for Proposing New Courses to the Academic Affairs Committee:

One of the responsibilities of the Academic Affairs Committee is to review proposals for new courses designed to be a permanent part of the curriculum as well as courses intended for the May Term. To do its job well, the committee needs to review each new proposal in a manner consistent with discussions of other such proposals, even though the members of the Academic Affairs Committee may change from year to year. To achieve that goal, the AAC asks that a faculty member devising a new course, either departmental or interdisciplinary, submit a proposal with both a description of the course and an accompanying rationale that addresses clearly the issues listed below. The rationale need not be longer than a single-spaced page, but it should reveal to the committee-and through the committee to the faculty as a whole-the thinking that lies behind the course proposal.

I. Course Description

This part of the proposal should describe clearly the nature of the course, so far as the instructor can estimate-its subject area, instructional materials (required textbooks and the like), types of assignments and assessment tools (journals, papers, case studies, lab notebooks, quizzes, tests), and level of expectation (e.g., an introductory course, a course intended for students across the curriculum, a course intended for upper-level majors, and so on). The description may well be a version of the sort of document one uses to inform students of course methods and requirements. A full syllabus is not necessary at this stage.

II. Course Rationale

This part of the proposal should be a clear, persuasive statement that includes the following:

1. An explanation of the importance of the course within the department that proposes it. How does the course contribute to a major? In what ways does the course strengthen the department's offerings or more specifically the major?

2. An explanation of the value of the course to the College's liberal arts curriculum generally. For courses proposed within a department as part of a major sequence, this issue will be largely addressed above in # 1. But the rationale should also address such questions as the following, where applicable: Is the course also likely to be a valuable elective for students across the curriculum? Do the faculty member and department proposing the course wish it to be a way for students to fulfill a requirement in the core curriculum? If it is an interdisciplinary course outside a major sequence, in what ways does it strengthen the curriculum?

3. An explanation of the staffing implications of the proposed course, both for the department's own offerings and for the department's ability to contribute more generally to the core curriculum.

4. A statement of how the expectations placed on students by the course are consonant with those in other courses in the same department of similar credit hours (1, 2, 3, 4) and level (100, 200, 300, 400). Colleagues within a department have a major role in ensuring this sort of consonance.

5. A brief statement about whether sufficient research materials and/or technology are available in Eggleston Library or elsewhere on campus to support the proposed course.

Departments wishing to propose new courses should follow these instructions when they prepare the proposal for Academic Affairs Committee consideration.  A copy of this procedure will also be kept in the Dean's office.

Rationale for the AAC's procedures:

Faculty at Hampden-Sydney are highly trained professionals in their fields, and one of the most important jobs faculty do is to construct new courses that help a department, a major, or the curriculum as a whole evolve in ways appropriate to the College's goals. We owe it to ourselves to examine carefully and consistently all proposals for new courses, so as to ensure that the curriculum changes in ways that make sense not only within a department but within the curriculum as a whole.

Having all course proposals present a detailed description, along with an accompanying rationale, will help the AAC do its job consistently from year to year, even as the membership of the committee changes. Please note that the AAC does not propose a list of prescriptive criteria that each proposed course must meet. The AAC believes that no such list could be meaningful across the curriculum, from division to division, department to department, given the wide array of pedagogical methods and goals that characterize our enterprise. Instead, the AAC asks those proposing new courses-both individual professors and their home departments-consider carefully, and explain clearly, how the proposed courses contribute meaningfully to the educational program here. The AAC asks for a reflective process, in other words, that will help each of us devise the best courses we can, when new courses are in order.

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