Humanities Culture Courses

The General Education changes in 2013, took both HUM 2454, African American Humanities, and HUM 2403, Middle Eastern Humanities out of the General Education program, and left both HUM 2410, Asian Humanities, and HUM 2461 Latin American Humanities in the program.  The Humanities faculty held a forum on 10/14 to discuss the inclusion or exclusion of all four culture courses in the General Education program.  The results were split 9 in favor or adding HUM 2454 and HUM 2403 to General Education versus 9 for the removal of HUM 2410 and HUM 2461 from General Education. The issue is one of values.  Those supportive of adding the HUM 2454 and HUM 2403 courses have a stronger value of the importance of diversity, and those supportive of removing the HUM 2410 and HUM 2461 courses have a stronger value of ease of transferability.

Colleagues: One of the Humanities faculty members has changed his vote from a “NO” for inclusion to a “YES,” thus brining the forum vote from a tie to 10 voters approving inclusion and 8 voters opposing inclusion.

The following are “points to ponder” from Kevin Mulholland:

  • Is there a demonstrated problem with the current situation?

Mythology has been one of our most popular classes for years. Critical Thinking has a high enrollment. Our non-western classes have been in in GenEd for years. What data do we have that taking these classes has been a real detriment to students who transfer to UCF? We have a given number of students who go to UCF. We subtract the number of graduates, and then subtract the number of students who have completed their GenEd here at Valencia. Take away the students who were only here for 12 hours and only took the core classes. Finally get rid of those who had special major requirements or who have already maxed out on B1 classes. How many do we have left and what have they had to say to let us know there is a problem?

  • Can we really predict what students will need?

We talked about “not getting in the weeds” on transfer issues, but I suspect that is exactly where we need to be.

It is by no means simple to try and anticipate what a student will need at UCF. The generic requirement is to take 9 hours in Cultural and Historical Foundations, with at least one class from both the B1 list and the B2 list. Many majors require specific classes to be taken from those lists. I surveyed the first 10 majors in UCF’s list of degrees offered. 6 of them were fine with the generic requirement, while 4 of them had specific requirements that would make it essentially irrelevant if they had credit for HUM 2210/2230. For example, Advertising majors needed 2 classes from B2. Assuming they had HUM 1020, students would find more B1 classes (like HUM 2210/2230) to be redundant. Aerospace majors need one humanities class but two history classes.

In addition, because UCF combines cultural and historical courses in their 9 hour requirement, it is quite possible for our students to have taken a history class that falls into B1, which again makes their choice of a second HUM prefix class irrelevant (assuming they already have HUM 1020).

  • If there is a transfer problem, why are we focused on the smaller enrollment classes?

I have never believed that the non-western classes transferability issues are the real reason to exclude non-western classes from GenEd.  Putting aside Twentieth Century, we have a much bigger problem with Mythology and Critical Thinking, neither of which transfer into UCF as GenEd classes. In Fall 2016, there were 60 sections of these classes – there were 20 sections of Asian & Latin American Humanities. Why are we only worried about 25% of ours students?

 


42 Responses to “Humanities Culture Courses”

  1. Val Woldman

    I’ve been relatively quiet during this conversation as I listened to my more experienced colleagues share their thoughts. I can see both sides of this conflict over the values of diversity and transferability, and I was undecided about how to vote before Friday’s forum. Based on the forum and the information from Karen and John, I decided to vote in favor of including the courses in Gen Ed. As I have had some time to ponder, my response here is lengthy.
    In 2011, I applied to two master’s programs in liberal studies at two institutions: Rollins College and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Each has a very different course of study for the MALS program; while Rollins’ program follows a structured, chronological approach with a foundation based on Western traditions, UNCG’s program had a much more broad list of requirements with a global approach http://mals.uncg.edu/program/courses.php (check out the current course offerings—several classes could fulfill credentialing requirements for the “culture” courses).I ended up choosing UNCG, and graduated with both a master’s degree and a certificate in Global Studies.
    Why is this relevant? (Bear with me!) Rollins is an excellent institution and their approach to teaching humanities mirrors Valencia’s offerings. In addition to the core classes, they also offer diverse and global electives. I chose UNCG and the global approach, however, because I already have two traditional degrees and I have already been teaching Western-based classes. I think this decision I made 5 years ago is relevant to our conversation today about what to include or exclude from the Gen Ed curriculum. The courses that we include in Gen Ed is what students will take, and in structuring a Gen Ed program, we are influencing how our students will act and think about the world. Valencia is a progressive, innovative, award-winning institution. Shouldn’t our required classes reflect a vision of diversity and inclusion for the future?
    I voted to support the inclusion of all four classes into Gen Ed for these reasons:
    1. We have the faculty to teach these classes. There was discussion about the challenge finding teachers to teach these classes. Ironically, even though I have a concentration in Global Studies (including classes in Hebrew Literature, Non-Western Literature, Global Economy, Global Perspectives in Biology, and Global Arts), I am not credentialed to teach any of the culture classes. Yet, even though I have never taken a graduate level class in Mythology or Greek/Roman, I am credentialed to teach those classes. Our credentialing process seems unbalanced to me. Although a faculty member does not need to identify with/be a member of the culture of the class he/she is teaching, I think we need to examine our implicit biases about who might be hired to teach these courses when we say hiring will be “difficult.” Some of my colleagues have already called our attention to the lack of diversity in our humanities department. This is a problem that is secondary to our current debate; yes, I think Valencia professors need to be more diverse and this is something we should consider in long-term planning as we let our vision for diversity drive future hiring decisions. In the meantime, we should survey current full-time and part-time faculty in our division (and outside it) to see who is willing to be credentialed to teach these classes.
    2. Transferability is a non-issue. We are currently teaching courses (Twentieth Century, Myth) that do not transfer to UCF for the Gen Ed requirement. If the college values diversity and inclusion, then we should practice those principles in our curriculum offerings and design by including the non-Western classes in Gen Ed. The transferability and staffing for the courses will follow, through possible negotiations and alignment with UCF and in future hiring decisions. It may take several years for our mission to align with our practice, but if it’s important, we should let our vision for diversity drive our decision-making process in the future (not the other way around).
    3. Exclusion perpetuates the marginalization of the non-Western courses. To refute the argument that “our classes are already diverse and we teach ____ in _____ class,” I would counter that teaching a unit about a marginalized culture in a Western-centered class is not the same thing as devoting an entire class to the history and arts of a non-Western culture. That’s the essence of the word marginalize — we relegate the teaching of a culture to the margins (just one chapter, a sidebar, a colored box at the end of the chapter) of our mainstream text. Rather than marginalizing non-Western cultures, we should elevate them to the same status as the mainstream, Western cultures by giving the non-Western courses equal status.

    I look forward to your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

    Reply
    • Aida Diaz

      Thank you Val for your thoughtful and clear explanation of why we should support the inclusion of these courses. I also agree with your statement that we need to review our credentialing process.

      Reply
    • Rachel Allen

      Thank you, Val, for your comments. I concur with you that our value of diversity can drive our decisions.

      Reply
  2. Vivian Ruiz

    We should focus on being inclusive (as opposed to exclusive) of diverse cultural perspectives and traditions in our programs. Eliminating courses such as HUM 2454, African American Humanities, and HUM 2403, Middle Eastern Humanities from the General Education program goes contrary to this very important goal in forming and educating global citizens. Please consider leaving the courses in. Let’s not sacrifice diversity and a well rounded exposure/education in the humanities for logistics.

    Reply
  3. When I look at the make up of my HUM 1020 courses this year and reflect back at what they looked like when I started teaching at Valencia over ten years ago, I think it especially important that we find a way to offer courses that bring a sense of cultural relevance to our diverse student population. Otherwise, I am forced respond in the same way to my students in 2016 as I did to the student who asked me in 2005 why we only study European topics in Humanities with an imitation of Ralph Cramden from the Honeymooners, “Homina, homina, homina…” Fortunately, Kevin Mulholland gave me an opportunity to teach HUM 2454 and I worked diligently over the years to make it accessible to students from a variety of different background. It was a challenging course but my students accepted the challenges because it gave them an opportunity to learn about their own cultural heritage as members of the African Diaspora. More importantly, it enforced the idea that the key word in African American, Latin American, and Asian American Humanities is “American” and we are all participants in this great multicultural experiment that has roots in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and extends across the waters to the New World. Finally, if one of our goals is to promote life long learning, what better way than to give students the opportunity to learn something about their own heritage and where it fits within our broader paradigms of history and culture in Western Civilization.

    Reply
  4. Areeje Zufari

    There is a viable option to create a new requirement for Non-Western courses, and including only Western Humanities courses within the HUM GenEd requirement. I believe strongly that Non-Western courses should be included among courses that meet Gen Ed requirements. BUT I do not think that the best place for them is to be included in the Humanities requirement.

    I would ask you to consider my two cents worth for an alternative solution for including our Non-Western Humanities courses in GenEd.

    Here is the idea that a few of us have been considering:
    • To create a Diversity Requirement in Gen Ed of 3 credit hours that would include all of our Non-Western humanities courses (and potentially other courses that meet the criteria we will develop.)
    • The new requirement would not add to the total number of credits required for an undergraduate degree. There are 3 credit hours designated as GenEd that are not currently assigned. (The deans can explain this better.)
    • The courses can be Gordon rule or Non-Gordon rule—we can hammer out this point at a later time.

    Rollins College has a model similar to this proposal:
    General Education Areas
    (C) Non-Western Cultures: Humans have adapted to a wide range of habitats and developed a rich variety of ways of interpreting and understanding the world. The diversity of these interpretations is part of what defines our species. By analyzing a non-western culture, students will better understand what is common to human nature and how societies differ from each other. Knowledge of other cultures will allow students, in addition, to recognize the dangers of cultural stereotyping.
    (D) Western Society and Culture: The ideas, arts, and institutions that define Western society and culture have emerged from a rich historical process. In order to understand, appreciate and critically evaluate any aspect of this culture, one must have an understanding of the context from which it arose. By studying the Western heritage in its historical development, students will be encouraged to see the historical dimensions of the issues they face as engaged citizens today.

    What I particularly like about Rollins’ model is the requirement of both Western and Non-Western humanities.

    More Examples from colleges and universities with similar requirement
    Below is a brief list of colleges and universities that have a similar requirement, a link to the relevant information, and the designations for their Humanities and Diversity requirements.

    • University of Central Florida
    o http://catalog.ucf.edu/policies/gep
    o Diversity Requirement
     “… The study of diversity is encouraged to pro¬mote an understanding of the needs of individuals, the University, and society. Thus, all students completing their first bachelor’s degree from UCF must complete at least one course that explores the diverse backgrounds and characteristics found among humans, including: race/ethnicity, gender, social class/caste, religion, age, sexual orientation, and level of physical ability.
     “Students are exempt from this requirement if they have completed an Associate of Arts degree or the General Education Program at a Florida College System institution or public state university. …”
    • Florida State University
    o http://registrar.fsu.edu/bulletin/undergraduate/information/undergraduate_degree/
    o Diversity Requirement: Students must complete at least one Cross-Cultural Diversity course (X) and one Diversity in Western Culture course (Y). Both Diversity courses must be completed with a grade of “C–” or higher.
    • University of Southern California
    o http://web-app.usc.edu/ws/soc_archive/soc/term-20151/general-education-requirements/
    o Western Cultures and Traditions
    o Global Cultures and Traditions

    Reply
  5. Bob G. Warren

    I have thought about the proposal. I vote, based on the information I have now, to not include these cultural specific classes in Gen Ed. I don’t do so lightly. I do think that other classes are more general and though transferability is one of the problems mentioned, that is actually less of a concern than indicated, in my opinion. Transferability doesn’t really factor so heavily in my vote, being a tempest in a teapot f rom what I could tell of the numbers involved…plus we are a boon to UCF and I am, sure that will work itself out. Classes that fall under Gen Ed should have a more general approach, covering more territory than a culturally specific class typically does. The cultural classes are not less valuable, they are just less general. I do think we need to ensure the value of these classes in some other way. We are coming to a critical moment where we should talk seriously about a diversity requirement of the kind discussed in the forum on Friday and which Areeje Zufari mentions in her comments. I one hundred percent agree this is a conversation we should have… already be having…at Valencia. I do think Gen Ed should be general within reason, and we as professors should strive to make our courses more and more diverse in critical and primary content as they pertain to those general topics in the Humanities. However, if Valencia is serious about diversity this ethos should not rest on one department or on Gen Ed, it should be a requirement that students take a number of classes that meet this requirement, which would then assure that the culturally specific classes, aside from being an elective, meet that requirement across disciplines which would require exposure to diverse subject matter via a college-wide requirement. This may be an inroad to the struggle between the specific and the general. Having a requirement of this kind would also be a very real act based on the presumption that diversity is in fact as important as we say it is.

    Reply
  6. Yasmeen Qadri

    I believe that both 2403 & 2454, Middle Eastern and African American Humanities courses must be included in the General Education courses. African American because it is part of the fabric of our history and society; and a large number of our students can connect to their culture and heritage.
    About including Middle East, if this question would have come up a decade ago I would have taken a different stand! But today, we are surrounded in the media and around us about Middle East. I believe it is high time that our educational institutions bring knowledge and facts to the core of teaching; and help eradicate opinion and one-sided biased information about this part of the world. Valencia is highly focused on Global & International Education with goals being on diversity and global citizenship. Much work and efforts are put into internationalizing the curriculum and study abroad programs. We cannot be selective in our global education topics and ignore the Middle Eastern Humanities, a discipline that can bring greater value to Humanities and human population in general. It will open doors of opportunities to inter-disciplinary approaches to government, politics, history, peace studies, diversity and world religion courses. Most important of all, it will help our students (and ourselves) attain what Robert Hanvey describes “perspective consciousness, a person’s awareness that he or she has a view of the world that is in not universally shared”. We have much invested interest and resources in this part of the world, and by introducing Middle Eastern Humanities in our Gen Ed we will be thinking globally but acting locally!! A deeper concern I have though is once Middle Eastern Studies will be included in Humanities Gen Ed and lead to its expansion, concerns such as: Who will be credentialed to teach it? How unbiased will that instruction be? Will the instructors hired to teach this course represent its diversity?
    Finally, I believe if we are preparing our students for their success in the global job market then they are going to miss a lot in the area of Middle East. To most of our students this region is limited to war and hatred let us expand their horizons and show them a different perspective a positive one, one that is of much growth, developments, and higher education opportunities!

    Reply
  7. Subhas Rampersaud

    While I teach under the banner of Social Sciences, I was invited to teach for a semester in the IDH program last Spring. Several insightful points raised in the above comments. I appreciate efforts to preserve and uphold curricular arrangements designed for, and from specific ethno-cultural reference points, and that which has shaped our education culture/values for decades. I also understand the concept of alignments with curricula of universities to which many of our students may be considering after leaving us. However, I am left with a question in response to the questions posed by the first two comments (Is there a demonstrated problem with the current situation?, Can we really predict what students will need?) How cognizant are we of the cultural and demographic changes in the faces of our students in our country? Might we be placing our loyalties on institutional arrangements from a place of academic privileges?

    Reply
  8. Sean Lake

    The suggestion and plan put forth by Areeje Zufari is a brilliant solution. I find it to be sensible and practical, and I feel far more strongly in support of this than the other options. Professor Zufari’s proposal sounds like a fair compromise between two positions that are otherwise, apparently, not easy for faculty at Valencia to agree upon. She cites examples at other schools, showing it is indeed practical, and it seems even to be a positive trend. Valencia would have to develop their own version, which would make it even more attractive because it would be fine tuned for our own strengths and the needs and benefits of our students.

    Reply
  9. Eric Wallman

    Due to missing phrases/typos in my previous comment, please post this one:

    What I don’t understand based on the comments thus far, is why offering a course as an elective or as a Gordon Rule course makes a difference so long as the course is offered. If these courses are not included in Gen-Ed, it does not mean a student cannot take the course. Moreover, must one write Gordon-Rule assignments in order to feel a culture was adequately represented? If they need to stay on track for a specific degree program and not use their credits on electives, perhaps they can take such courses at a higher level when transferring to a university. Or, again, if a diversity requirement were created for students earning an AA degree, we could place these courses under a category for diversity. A diversity requirement could include all the courses pulled out of Gen-Ed by other departments as well. All faculty who want to teach one of the courses they lost in the gen-ed decision could not offer it through a diversity requirement, which also assures that these classes will have regular enrollment.

    What amazes me is that so many people assume that because Humanities courses are Western-oriented that non-Western cultures are not represented. Now, there are faculty who teach Greek/Roman humanities and literally never discuss anything but Greeks and Romans. However, faculty are entitled to diversify their courses in Humanities, so long as they discuss major points on the course outline. Some of us can cover those major points in half of the term, making room to personalize our courses with the rest of the time left. Greek/Roman humanities can include ancient Persia, Anatolia, Silk Road trade, and Egypt, to name a few. Please do not think that because a course is called Renaissance/Baroque that a faculty member is only comparing/contrasting works from the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque period. This course is an opportunity to discuss events in China, the African slave trade, colonization of the Americas etc. The Internationalization of the Curriculum initiative and Global Citizenship certificate are two strategies already in place that provide faculty with ideas on how to diversify their courses and represent other cultures within the parameters of arguably Western-oriented education. I vote no because I think including these courses into Gen-Ed will only cause other departments to plague the school with similar arguments and civil wars within departments.

    Reply
  10. Thomas Takayama

    Hello All,

    I am submitting the following memorandum on behalf of the humanities faculty and Deans from the Osceola, Lake Nona & Winter Park Campuses:

    MEMORANDUM

    FROM: Adriene Tribble, Betty Fenner, Diane Brown, Jackie Starren, Kevin Mulholland, Marlene Temes, Paul Chapman, Tami Gitto, Val Woldman & Vivian Ruiz
    TO: The Members of the Curriculum Committee
    DATE: October 20, 2016
    RE: Diversity in General Education

    The full time humanities faculty of Winter Park, Lake Nona and Osceola Campuses would like to express their unanimous support for the inclusion of our four non-western humanities classes into General Education.

    These classes have been labelled as special interest classes that are peripheral to our mission of bringing the humanities alive to our students. This characterization only holds water if you begin from a set of assumptions that identify the western tradition as the only really relevant topic for our students. This allows you to invert reality and argue that Late Roman and Medieval Humanities (which examines the cultural development of western Europe for about 600 years) is “broader” in scope than Asian Humanities which examines the development of arts and ideas over several millenia in what has always been the most populous part of the globe. As interdisciplinary humanities professors, our task is to help students understand how the visual and performing arts, literature, and ideas spring from their historical and cultural context. We can focus on this task through western and non-western lenses.

    In the end, we believe this is about respect and commitment. We need to respect Valencia’s commitment to diversity and a global outlook. We need to commit to the struggle to bring about a sense of global citizenship. We need to respect the fact that other cultures deserve our close attention, especially when we have a long history of marginalizing those cultures. Finally, we need to recognize and respect the fact that our enrollment is leading us into a future where easy assumptions about the canonical relevance of one historical tradition look increasingly shaky. When we tell our students that the study of non-western culture is somehow less important than the study of western culture, we are telling them that their backgrounds and culture are worth less in our eyes. While we would never formulate these words to a student’s face, the fact that non-Western classes are now excluded from General Education would send that message to them in a manner that is all too loud and clear.

    Reply
    • Kevin Mulholland

      I have read all the comments with interest, but I wanted to make sure that we didn’t leave the forum with some erroneous ideas.

      The number “over 7,000’ was used to describe the population of students who were at risk of facing transfer difficulties at UCF. According to that National Clearing House Data on Student Transfer, of the 9,653 first-time students at Valencia (full-time and part-time) who arrived in 2010-2011, six years later:
      • 3,600 had completed an associate’s degree (of these, 1,140 never transferred to a 4-year institution; 2,460 transferred to a 4-year institution)
      • 610 were still enrolled at Valencia
      • 918 had transferred to a 4-year institution without having completed an associate’s degree
      • 1,000 had transferred to another community college
      • 3,525 were no longer enrolled anywhere

      Note that 918 students is a far cry from the assertion that over 7,000 students are at risk. Note also that we need to subtract:
      – Any student who attends an SUS school other than UCF
      – Any student who had only progressed as far as taking core classes before he/she transferred
      – Any student who had already complete their GenEd requirement at Valencia
      – Any student in a major that did not allow HUM 2210/2230 as a GenEd class

      We were assured that removing the non-western classes from GenEd has not had a negative impact on their enrollment. HUM 2454- African American humanities had an enrollment of 183 students (8 sections) in Fall 2014 (when it was in GenEd) and 83 students (4 sections) in Fall 2016. This is a decline of well over 50%

      It was pointed out that no state universities offer our non-western classes. We should have noted that no state universities offer HUM 2220, HUM 2223, HUM 2232 or HUM 2234 either.

      Some were puzzled by the comments that we can’t hire full time faculty to teach one specific non-western class. We have recently hired full time faculty in these areas and, like the rest of us, they teach a variety of classes.

      Reply
  11. John Edwards

    I vote not to include the culture courses in the existing Gen Ed institutional hours requirement. Not including these courses in Gen Ed does not mean they don’t matter, or that we shouldn’t teach them, or that students shouldn’t take them. “General Education” needs to be a meaningful term, however, with definable boundaries–otherwise, any and every course we offer at Valencia could be Gen Ed.

    The Western Humanities sequence is general to students who live _in the West_ in ways that courses in Asian studies or Middle-Eastern studies are not. The purpose of these courses is to provide students with a basic foundation in the intellectual and cultural traditions that they will be participants in Western culture. It is true that we break our sequence down into a different series of topics and course numbers than is the practice at other institutions, but the majority of colleges and universities in the US offer some version of this core Western sequence at the lower-division, general-education level. When we see courses offered in Asian Studies or Latin American Studies, they are generally at the 3000 level, which suggests that these are understood to be more specialized than the courses of the Western sequence.

    I vote that, instead, we advocate Areej’s approach of developing a “Diversity” requirement of 3 hours in Gen Ed., to include the courses under discussion here. It seems to me that this might well increase the number of students taking the culture courses, because at present, there is no particular incentive for them to take Middle-Eastern or Latin-American Humanities if they have already completed 3 hours of humanities at the institutional level. It’s not unlikely that enrollments in these classes would be affected for the better by adopting the Diversity requirement model.

    Reply
  12. Stacey DiLiberto

    Although I primarily teach in Communications, I have had the privilege of teaching humanities courses—including HUM 1020, HUM 2250, HUM 2461, and now IDH–throughout my tenure at Valencia both at the Osceola and West Campuses. Since I do teach one of the courses up for consideration, HUM 2461, I of course, have a personal stake in the current debate, but my sentiments go beyond the superficial fact that I “like” the course.

    Many of my colleagues, have already expressed my views on the matter, including the collective response from the Lake Nona, Osceola, and Winter Park Campuses, but to emphasize:

    I find the entire debate quite puzzling. I’m left wondering what has changed, is there really a problem, and why now? From a linguistic perspective, I find the label “cultural class” problematic since it is confusing and means nothing to me. What is the difference between “cultural class” and “humanities class?” Doesn’t humanities teach culture? Sure, there is the argument that any remaining classes could include non-Western perspectives, but why condense an entire humanistic tradition to a few lessons? Isn’t that what occurs already (e.g. blurbs or side-bars on non-Western ideas in textbooks we use)? The converse can be true as well: a non-Western class can (and will) include Western perspectives. One has to, for instance, discuss La Reconquista in Spain as well as cultural and scientific achievements throughout Europe when studying New World colonization in HUM 2461 (just to give one example).

    Perhaps what is most problematic for me is that removing these courses would create a curriculum that does not reflect our student population. They will not see themselves in the materials as has been their experience throughout K-12 (which prefers Western perspectives). The beauty of these courses is that they give students the opportunity to explore ideas that have been briefly mentioned or flat out ignored throughout their schooling. In fact, students often say what an eye-opener the experience has been to learn of “stuff not taught in schools.” Valencia is proud of its “essential competency” inclusion and diversity and its “global distinction”; it is labeled a Minority Serving Institution, however, removing these courses would run contrary to those labels. We wouldn’t be practicing what we’re supposedly preaching.

    Finally, I understand that removing the courses will not mean that they are gone from the books forever, but honestly, will they run successfully? Will they in all reality be offered if no one will take them? Let the forgotten courses once offered abundantly be a cautionary tale if what you teach and what students study matters to you in some way.

    Reply
  13. Marlene Temes

    Diversity and Inclusion:

    Diversity is a fact of our lives. We live in diverse communities and teach at a diverse college. Diversity is already here. What we want to achieve is inclusion rather than just merely giving a nod to diversity here and there. Including different cultures within the European-based curriculum is certainly a form of recognition and acknowledgment, and that’s great! I actually think we should all be doing that. It’s not clear to me why the two things, including the influence of other cultures in our European curriculum AND giving students diverse curricula to delve deeper into these cultures, are mutually exclusive. The suggestion seems to be that if we simply sprinkle ideas from other cultures here and there, we can claim we are “allowing” those cultures in or at least not forgetting about them. In other words, there’s “enough” diversity in our curriculum. Acknowledging diversity, however, is NOT the same as inclusion.

    Separation:

    Another suggestion that falls short of Inclusion is to create a Diversity Requirement. Segregating these courses into something other than Humanities again serves to treat them as something “other”. It effectively puts diversity in a box. That is not inclusion. This also suggests the courses offer a new learning outcome rather than acknowledging that they meet the cultural and historical understanding learning outcome just as well, if not better than, the European courses. These courses as just as important for our students as the European courses. One wonders why exactly these courses shouldn’t simply co-exist and the choice be left up to the student.

    Inconsistency:

    If we argue that talking about these diverse cultures in our European curriculum is enough, we could then use the same argument to eliminate the five so-called “period” courses (Greek and Roman, Late Roman/Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, Enlightenment/Romanticism, and 20th Century Humanities) because, after all, we cover all those topics in Introduction to Humanities as well as in many of the courses in our Core Curriculum. For example, since an entire chapter on Greece and one on the Roman empire are included in the Introduction to Humanities course, why would we delve deeper into those cultures in Greek and Roman Humanities or Late Roman/Medieval Humanities?

    Bottom line:

    This isn’t about transferability, staffing, SACS or anything else. It seems to be about cultural bias and enrollment numbers. The real threat is that if a student prefers to take African-American Humanities or Middle Eastern Humanities they will be opting out of Greek and Roman, Late Roman Medieval, or any of the European courses. This did not become an issue until the State reduced the Humanities hours from 9 to 6 and determined the Core curriculum which does not include any of these “period” courses but which happens to also be almost entirely Eurocentric. How are these courses more relevant to students’ lives than African American and Middle Eastern Humanities? It’s a step backwards in our understanding of and our progress toward genuine inclusion and meaningful options for our students. The resistance to an inclusive curriculum highlights how much work is left to be done to see diversity as a strength.

    Reply
  14. Thong Le

    I vote to include culture courses in the existing Gen Ed institutional hours requirement. There are many reasons to include the course:
    1.Have you ever heard the term Western and Eastern? While Humanities classes provide different cultures for students who are interesting in experience another culture, you cannot prevent them from that experiment. Eastern side has many important information that students need to know for their life. Such as Asian Humanity provides Buddhism which explores student’s mind about another religion.

    2.Do you know population in the world right now? Which country is dominant in pollution? China and India. They are Asian country that grown bigger every day. They not only dominant in population but they also dominant in production. Learning different cultures is advantage for students to learn their good things. Therefore, students have an education base to interact with foreigners in business, tourism, entertainment at least one.

    3.Diversity is important in the current society. Culture reflects the inner workings of an individual society. For example, culture helps to define social situations so people understand how to behave based on that society’s cultural norms. Learning another culture can teach ourselves to behave better in this society and give us tools to imagine the future. Nothing is stable. They are all moving and learning another culture can help student improve their adaptability with new environment or see the movement of changes.

    Reply
  15. Jackie Starren

    I taught the New Student Experience class for three and a half years and am now teaching humanities (again) at the Lake Nona Campus. I have had the opportunity to spend each day planning student schedules, charting connections to their choice of four year institutions either locally or outside of Florida, and advising each of my students one-on-one for a minimum of a year and a half when we then “transfer” them to one of the advisors in the advising center. In that three-and-a-half-year time span, I did not meet a student who really took a strong interest in whether or not their humanities course was ‘general’ or was geared toward the ‘western culture’. The students wanted to know if it was fun, engaging, and related to their course of study. Quite often, we would discuss the relevance of the classes they take to their pathway. For example, we would recommend Greek & Roman to those who were pursuing law, or the Asian, African American or Hispanic humanities if the student was going into the medical fields in order to understand other cultures when in the field.

    I never ran into a situation (nor any of my seven colleagues as they came to me with ANY issues concerning humanities) where transferability was a problem. The AA General is a finished degree. The universities are more concerned with SPC1608 – Speech vs. SPC 1708 – Interpersonal Communication or the science/math pathways. Valencia doesn’t offer a Humanities Pre-Major, so the student who majors in humanities does not exist. One factor that is highly important to the students, Valencia, and their future institutions is the critical thinking component. Other extremely important factors we as an institution value are diversity and a greater understanding of the world as a whole and not simply the one most are “used to”. If this is the case, I am worried that we are doing an injustice to our students if we continually “preach” about the value of being open-minded but are closed minded in our class offerings.

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  16. John Fernandez

    I think we should keep Asian Humanities as a Humanities because just like myself, there are other people that would love to learn about the Asian culture. What is the point of having a humanity as a class, where we cannot enjoy the type of class we get to take. Many people must follow 2 year plans in order to get their degrees. On those plans are a bunch of requirements that students don’t even enjoy taking. We should at least get to choose the type of humanity to enjoy the very few classes taught. Humanities should not be about learning and passing a test. It should be about getting a taste of a new culture. We should get exposed to a diversity of different ideas and religions, and teaching. All of the other humanities courses did not seem to catch my interest, however when I saw Asian humanities, that actually seemed like something I would enjoy. And I was right! I learned something new that I was always skeptical about and that’s Buddhism. My point is that us students should deserve to learn about a bunch of cultures that we want. After all, we are paying for these courses, so we should pay for what we want to get educated on. This class should not interfere with getting a degree or even transferring to another institution because it’s still learning about cultures and ideas that they adapted. Don’t end Asian Humanities!

    Reply
    • George Brooks

      Nobody is saying to “end Asian humanities” — this is a question about Gen Ed requirements and the long term impact of allowing pretty much any humanities course to qualify as “general education.” Please don’t confuse the issue by framing it as if we are doing away with any of these courses.

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  17. Miguel Barrios

    I was pretty shocked that this was even being considered, learning about this cultures has helped expand my mind set into not only learning about the world I do not see but also about my self, removing this from curriculum is just plain ignorant to the cultures around….
    Keep our options of growth open.
    It is common to hear undergraduates and recent college graduates preparing for a career in science complain: “I think I wasted a lot of time in college being forced to take humanities classes that had nothing to do with my area of study.” This is one of many manifestations of the ongoing centuries-long battle over the relationship between the sciences and the humanities.

    From a historical point of view, until the mid-19th century, the humanities (i.e., grammar, rhetoric, history, literature, languages, and moral philosophy) held the upper hand. At Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the gold standard models for American education, the areas of study consisted mainly of classics, mathematics, or divinity.

    However, in 1847 Yale College broke with this tradition and formed the School of Applied Chemistry. This became the Yale Scientific School and in 1861 it was renamed the Sheffield Scientific School. Sheffield’s 3-year undergraduate program focused on chemistry, engineering, and independent research. It offered the best scientific training in America. The “Sheffs” studied and lived apart from other undergraduates taking the classic curriculum and roomed together in the “college yard.” The two groups did not mingle. The old truism that a classical education assured success was being challenged. Science had begun its separation and was ascending vis-a-vis the liberal arts in American universities.

    The need for science majors to take courses in the humanities has been contentious ever since. The required core curriculum at most colleges and universities has atrophied over the years, while at the same time governmental funds for support of any new research in the humanities has dried up. Authorities both within and outside of science have expressed concern that scientists do not learn enough about the humanities — to the detriment of society.

    In this environment, it’s difficult for the undergraduate to determine the desirability of taking courses in the humanities — or which and how many to take. In fact, some applicants to college regard a strong core curriculum requirement as a negative factor, opting instead for programs with a minimum number of required core courses and maximum flexibility.

    All this considered, I would offer the following 10 reasons why students pursuing science careers should augment their education with a strong foundation in the humanities.
    http://blogs.sciencemag.org/sciencecareers/2011/05/ten-important-r.html

    Reply
    • George Brooks

      No one is suggesting “removing them from the curriculum”–this is a question about Gen Ed. Please read my detailed response that follows yours for the various complexities of the issue.

      Reply
  18. Eric B Wallman

    I’ve already agreed that the courses offered are Western oriented, but if these other four courses are placed back into Gen-Ed then I want to know what the committee will do when faculty create outlines for even more cultures not represented. For instance, if I go and study Native American, Russian, or Australian/Oceanic humanities and attain 15-18 credit hours in the field, may I propose to include this course in Gen-Ed?

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  19. Mark McMeley

    It is absurd for our department to voluntarily degrade its own courses by shunting some off into categories that aren’t part of the general education requirement. None of the courses we teach are beyond the introductory level. If it takes East Asia or the Middle East or ancient Greece to turn people on to understanding human experience, what difference does it make? What do we gain by forcing people into classes on the West that are valid but are no more “general” or “specific” in scope and no more essential to making one’s way in the world than the other areas, and which people may have already taken throughout their high school programs? Why would we discourage people from taking a course on Asia or the Middle East or Africa or Latin America by demoting those courses into some elevated-sounding category for which they were not intended in the first place? We are teaching introductory courses; we’re not training people for careers.

    Aren’t we first and foremost teaching people to think? I have no illusions about people remembering for long much of the specific class content. At best they’ll pick up some ideas in order to learn to learn for themselves. If a student’s interest is sparked in one area more than another, in history or Western humanities or in one of my area courses, I do not care.

    Are we really so parochial that we think people will turn out best if they are trained and if they think just as we do? The students are not in high school and they don’t need hand-holding through more western civ. Let them make that choice, and let them gain the full advantage of the general education requirement that all our courses deserve.

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  20. Cinthia Duarte

    Humanities: the human race; human beings collectively.

    -Taking away non-western humanities creates unfairness. It is unfair to leave one culture when humanities is defined for the human race! As a whole! Why limit their choices? It is hard for students to learn when they don’t enjoy the material. So why not leave them the options from which to choose from?
    -Diversity is also another point that has been mentioned. Students have been learning about Western culture since one can remember, in elementary, middle, and high school. That’s grouping those who have been living here their whole lives of course. I am not trying to say that there is something wrong with western culture but why not have the option to learn about a different culture? Taking non-western humanities exposes students to be well-rounded and knowledgeable in society.
    -Taking logistics into consideration, regardless if students transfer to a University or not, those seeking an AA GenEd degree at Valencia are still considered to receive a degree. A degree is a degree no matter how far they go. If the issue is about transferability then the counselors should inform the students and warn them that these classes are not accepted in all Universities. But taking away non-western humanities from the required humanities criteria should not be a solution.

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  21. Bill Edward

    Please find below my reasoning for why Asian, African, Latin-American and Middle Eastern Humanities should be included in the Gen Ed curriculum.
    “Is there a demonstrated problem with the current situation?”
    It does not seem to me like there is. These cultural courses are not taking the place of courses that are being proposed to be added.
    I believe the value of “transferability” pales in comparison to the value of “diversity.” As others have pointed out, transferability is a non-issue. Mythology and 20th Century do not transfer.
    The Humanities Gen Ed offerings are already Eurocentric enough without cutting these Cultural Courses.
    The cultural classes are not “less general” as some have stated. They just seem less general from a Eurocentric mindset. From the standpoint of Asian or Middle Eastern culture, these culture courses are extremely general.
    With all of the social and political turmoil our country and the world is dealing with which relates to African American and Middle Eastern culture, is it not important that our students be studying these cultures, and be getting more than elective credit for it? This is our job, to educate people about different cultures.
    The student should be able to choose whether or not they want to choose a Western or non-Western Humanities for their meager Humanities requirements. Learning about other cultures teaches a person just as much, if not more about their own culture.
    This matter has nothing to do with the racial demographic of our student or faculty bodies. It has to do with our diversity of knowledge and exposure to different cultures to give rise to intellectual and personal growth. Because our students “live in the West” is not a good reason to keep them narrow minded and only learning about Western traditions.
    As others have mentioned, the real reasons for this seem not to be the ones “officially” listed, but more selfish ones set forth by a minority of individuals.
    To not include these cultural courses would be a huge step backward in the academic diversity and integrity of Valencia College.

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  22. George Brooks

    I vote NO on the inclusion of these courses into the Gen Ed curriculum.

    John Edwards has already stated the primary philosophical reason eloquently, in that “General Education” is supposed to mean something. It is not our purpose to flatter and comfort our students by allowing them to just take courses that they think they want or see themselves in–their general education is to acquaint them with the ideas that have shaped the Western civilization that they will become an active part of in their adult lives. I don’t see how a person can be generally educated if they can take a course of studies that never exposes them to Plato, or Galileo, or Sartre. By analogy, to allow a student to just take a course in, say, Latin American humanities and count that as gen ed, with no other 2000 level course ever being part of their college coursework, is akin to allowing a student to take the infamous “Horse Course” (Behavior of Wild Horses) and say that it should satisfy their general biology requirement. Just as horses are a specific topic for which we once offered a specialized study, so too are our “culture courses” that focus on a specific region of the world.

    I would also like to reiterate the point that Eric Wallman and others have made: our commitment to diversity is demonstrated in the very fact that we have more of these non-Western courses than any college or university in the state of Florida. We will still offer them all–they don’t have to be in Gen Ed. And Eric is correct in pointing out that our Western sequence courses are, in fact, diverse (at least for most of the professors I know). Fifty years ago, that might not have been the case, but since the 1960s we have greatly diversified how the humanities and history are taught: 2220 is not just Greeks and Romans (I start that course with early humans coming out of Africa, and teach the Mesopotamian epic, Gilgamesh, as the first piece of literature; 2223 includes Egyptians like St. Anthony and St. Augustine, the rise of Islam, and the weird medieval view of the distant world (important precursor to the age of Exploration and how these ‘others’ were initially perceived; 2232 is not just Renaissance paintings, but the journeys of Marco Polo and hundreds of others along the silk road to China and the impact of Chinese technology back in Europe (mechanical printing, paper, gunpowder, the compass…all Chinese contributions to the West), and the eventual contact with the Americas–Pico della Mirandela’s “Oration” is standard reading in all Renaissance classes, and he provides the opportunity to talk about all the non-Western, non-Christian authors he read that inspired the great statement of Renaissance humanism. I could go on, but the point should be clear: DIVERSITY does not just mean offering non-Western courses–REAL DIVERSITY means offering courses in Western civilization that recognizes the significant contributions of all cultures to the formation of the global village we live in today. The fact that we offer additional courses that allow a student to follow up general education humanities with culture specific courses shows our superior commitment to diversity.

    We already took a major hit during the last gen ed revision–our students have even less requirements to attain a real liberal arts education, which was the purpose of college when the Middle Ages invented it, than they had before–so we need to focus on strategies that, in the end, maximize the overall number of humanities courses offered and number of students who take humanities. We all intuitively understand the math: a student who is moved through a couple of Gen Ed Western sequence courses, and who had inspiring humanities professors that helped them turn on the life of their mind, has a good chance of choosing to spend some of their electives on more humanities classes in topics that appeal to them; but a student who is allowed to avoid these courses and take what they will perceive as easier classes (which may or may not be true) in a regional topic, will tick off that requirement and be far less likely to take other humanities courses. Every one of you know this is true.

    So let’s be honest here. The real driver of including these courses, as John Niss said at the big meeting, is that courses that meet a Gen Ed requirement are easier to fill in many cases. Those who want to teach regional specific courses have an interest in getting them approved so that they can teach them. But while that immediate bit of self interest may be fulfilled by doing this, in the big picture less courses will be filled overall. And that won’t hurt any of us as we are full time and tenured and the school has to fill our schedule. It is the adjuncts who will suffer as there will be less classes left over for them to teach. Do you really want to diminish the financial security of our adjuncts, and lessen the overall engagement in the humanities for Valencia students?

    Areeje Zufari has provided the wisest course of action–one in which everybody gets to win: we create a diversity requirement as many other schools have already done, and all those non-Western, regional courses can fulfill that need, thus ensuring student interest without diluting the meaning of general education humanities for citizens of Western Civilization.

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  23. Jon Mach

    This should not be an argument of why one subject holds more importance in contemporary education than the other, because that is ethnocentric, but instead this needs to be seen as why one would consider cutting only the non-European humanities from core requirements. This seems to hold a similarity to the whitewashing of history that promotes ignorance equivalent to that of something on the same grounds of Ancient Aliens, and that these entire civilizations held no significance or influence to the humanities. In a way this action of removing these courses puts entire civilizations at risk of becoming only a side story to the much shorter European humanities.

    As a former student and recent graduate I find this absolutely a cultural bias on what a committee deems most important. This is regardless of the student body’s largely diverse cultural makeup. If college is where one goes to expand their way of thinking, then this action would successfully reverse a students understanding of other cultures and ill prepare them for a world in which some of their future endeavors may not be in Greece or Europe. Instead the future of commerce and technology is in other parts of the world where courses like Latin American Humanities and or Middle Eastern studies would prepare them.

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  24. Aida Diaz

    I don’t have a vote in this discussion although I am credentialed and teach the class.
    Inquiring: Why were two of the classes removed from Gen Ed after they had been previously included? Who and when did this vote take place?
    This discussion has nothing to do with scheduling of full time faculty nor adjuncts. This has to do with providing our students a curriculum of inclusion and diversity. Yes, as some have stated, Marco Polo is discussed as well as the Silk Road, a picture of Friday Kahlo is included but there isn’t an in-depth presentation or discussion of the Asian, Middle Eastern, African-American and Latin American humanities.

    I will not accept the point of view that students “are allowed to take these classes because they are easier and not the more challenging Western Humanities classes”. Are we making assumptions that our colleagues who teach these classes are not competent in providing challenging course work as those who teach the Western Humanities? Is this really what some of our “colleagues” think about those who teach these classes? If that is the case, a diversity requirement will not change these attitudes. The ugly truth is showing its head.

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    • Kevin Mulholland

      I’m happy that recent posts have finally hit upon the core of our disagreement. This was never about transferability, SACS, hiring or any of the other issues that supposedly disqualified the non-western classes from general education. There is no serious challenge to the claim that these classes serve our general education outcomes. It was always about the perception that these classes are less important and less relevant than courses with a western focus. This really comes to the central question about what we should be teaching. It also mirrors our perception of what kind of culture we think we live in, or would like to live in. I would argue that my colleagues who want to exclude non-western classes from general education are wrong, but I can respect their point of view.
      This respect does not extend to some of the arguments that have been made to support the primacy of western classes.

      • What basis do we have for thinking that having non-western classes in General Education will diminish our overall enrollment? Imagining that students will share a professor’s animus against these classes, thus leading to penury for our part time colleagues and disengaged students, is a dystopian fantasy. I simply don’t accept the implication my colleagues who teach non-western classes will turn students off against the humanities. Furthermore, I was appalled by the assertion that this is a unanimous perception. It is also a little insulting to suggest that advocates for these classes are primarily motivated by a desire to boost enrollment in their classes. The bulk of folks who have spoken in support of their inclusion do not even teach the non-western classes.
      • We need to stop pretending that our students currently experience General Education as a coherent introduction to the western tradition (or to any tradition). If that is what we really want, we could embrace “HUM1” and “HUM2” and stop letting them take Musical Appreciation and Mythology as their humanities requirements. We also need to stop pretending that the non-western classes are a grave and novel threat to the coherence of our curriculum. We have had some of these classes in General Education for decades and they were all in the program until 2 years ago.
      • The proposal that we will create a diversity requirement seems akin to telling a child in a militantly atheist household to put an object of her desire onto her Christmas, wish-list. The household doesn’t celebrate the holiday or exchange gifts, but her wishes have been noted and honored, and she should surely be happy with that. We live in a time that stresses time-to-degree and shuns excess hours. I believe that the chances of getting a separate diversity requirement are vanishingly small and this proposal is just a distraction.
      • It is wrong to equate the non-western classes with a boutique class about wild horses. How can you argue that a class covering 200-400 years of European history is broader than a class covering a larger part of the globe over a longer period of time? The real disdain for these classes is motivated by a kind of nineteenth century prejudice formulated by people like Ranke, and apparently shared by some of my colleagues, who argued that areas outside the West simply had no real history.
      • The argument that non-western classes are rendered redundant by faculty efforts to show how other areas of the world impacted Europe only makes sense if you accept the assumptions that the only things that matter are the things that molded Europe. Does a study of the Arab impact on Europe as part of Renaissance & Baroque Humanities make Middle Eastern Humanities irrelevant? If so, does a Latin American Humanities unit on Baroque architecture in Peru make Renaissance and Baroque Humanities unworthy of inclusion in general education? I’m also somewhat cynical that extensive treatment of non-western material is the new norm.

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  25. Camila Peralta

    Personally I think that Asian Humanities and all of the humanities should stay in the Gen Ed because first they are interesting. When it’s interesting people will stay in the class, and would want to learn more about the topic, second you shouldn’t take it away because it would be dissapointing for people that are from there, third I like my Asian Humanities class alot and I am learning alot from my proffesor.

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  26. Michael Cubero

    I understand that these courses are not being considered for elimination, but rather they are being transitioned out of Gen Ed curriculum. However as one post has already expressed, I do not think it is fair to place these courses into their own separate categories. It degrades the value of the courses to encourage students to avoid taking them. I cannot express how important these courses are to making sure that we diversify our mindsets and beliefs. They are not any less important than the other courses and should not be treated as such. I refuse to believe that there is such a massive issue as far as transferability goes that these courses must be removed. Instead, I see a clear cultural bias on what is being deemed important. I see that the definition of what general education is being changed to a reflection of what we are already familiar with. It is appalling that in this day and age we would even consider preventing students who want to become more culturally well rounded from getting credit that would count towards their general education. Opting to make these courses an elective is a mistake. Allow the students to make the decision as to what they wish to learn about for their humanities credit instead of trying to implement such backwards thinking and close minded changes to make that decision for them.

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  27. Adriene Tribble

    I highly encourage the Curriculum Committee to vote “Yes” on including the culture courses into our General Education curriculum. I am a Humanities faculty member who is not credentialed to teach any of these courses. The reasons for my support of inclusion are twofold: students’ best interests and Inclusive Excellence.

    I’m concerned that the original question – can the culture courses meet Gen Ed requirements? – has been lost, or at least the conversation at the forum and on this blog seem to be focusing on a separate issue. That is framed in the description of this blog: one either values more diversity or values more ease of transferability. This suggests that including the culture courses comes at the cost of easy transferability. Based on what evidence has been shared so far – or rather, lack thereof – I’m not convinced that transferability of these specific courses is a real problem a significant amount of our students face. I’d hate for the decision of the Curriculum Committee to stall on the concept that transferability and a diverse curriculum are mutually exclusive when this certainly is not the case.

    What we do have evidence for is that not including the culture courses in our General Education program is confusing for our students, as was brought to the Curriculum Committee’s attention recently. And what cause would that student have to think that her African American Humanities class would not be considered equally to one of the period courses she would have chosen to take instead? If we are truly discussing what is in the best interest of our students, eliminating the option for students to take courses that they think are achieving Gen Ed requirements but ultimately counting only as elective hours – particularly when they do not have those hours to spare – is the most appropriate step.

    What we also have evidence for is the importance of Inclusive Excellence. It is an essential competency we require of our faculty and it is a vital piece of Valencia’s character. I have faith that my colleagues work hard to diversify their Introduction to Humanities or period courses as much as possible, as several shared in the forum. There is a substantial difference, however, between seeing an entire course versus a chapter dedicated to a particular culture, tangential only to the white Western experience. If we were to reverse the scenarios, I’d suspect my colleagues would rightly object if I were to suggest that teaching a chapter on the Greeks and Romans in my culture course would mean that our Greek and Roman period course ought not count as a General Education option.

    Some of my colleagues have suggested adding a diversity requirement, perhaps in an effort to find the road between increased diversity and ease of transferability. Be wary of this trajectory. As Valencia strives to be at the forefront of modeling Inclusive Excellence, stepping into a framework in which being sufficiently diverse constitutes one token three hour (non Gen Ed) course seems outdated and undesirable. A course highlighting the non-Western experience should not be an afterthought to a Western-dominated General Education, taken only to check off a burdensome additional requirement to graduate.

    It seems that the conversation needs to return to the original question: can the culture courses meet General Education requirements? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

    Today we can solve the current problem of our Humanities General Education lacking diversity and creating confusion for our students. I value taking action now to work in the best interest of our students, both in updating our curriculum to reflect the wide ranging cultural experiences of our student body, faculty, and staff, and preventing future students from signing up for inadvertent and superfluous elective hours.

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  28. Edward Rodriguez

    I was not aware of the current situation regarding the total inclusion or exclusion of the Humanities classes. As a student, it seemed strange me that colleagues wanted to exclude potential learning experiences and limit education. After reading from both sides regarding transferability and diversity, I would like to lend you my perspective as a student myself. During the registration period, I was not sure what Humanities I wanted to enroll in. I needed to satisfy my general Ed and began combing through the options. After seeing many of the topics I have previously studied many times in other courses such as Greek, Renaissance, and Latin topics, I came across Asian Humanities. It peaked my curiosity and decided to see that curiosity through. I have learned many things while taking that course. The eastern culture is very different from ours. From learning of their culture, I can reflect upon our and develop my way of thinking. Above just the material given, I have learned more about myself and where I stand in this world. I know very little about the eastern world. It seems almost foolish, how after so many years of education, I have little to no knowledge about the other side of the world. Without taking this course, I would not have had this revelation. Furthermore, if this class with not in the GenEd list, I would probably not have taken it. This would have been a huge missed opportunity for me and future students. I believe the humanities are a very important part of GenEd for various reasons and should all be included. 1. Students have the opportunity to learn more than just western perspective. Students take many classes that are all western based and we become very developed in western thinking. Eastern-focused Humanity classes are the few chances a student will learn more than western thinking. We can really study the world around and analyze how it is developing the world we live in. Without that, we cannot fully develop a cultured view of the world. It seems very limiting to know only about our backyard, and know nothing about our neighbors. 2. This is not a popularity contests. It seems there are issues about staffing classes or classes not getting enough attention. Having the full inclusion of the humanities does not cost much. We can treat this like a simple economics concept, supply and demand. Allowing the classes to be in the roster will not hurt anyone. If the classes are being enrolled in, then the classes should stay. If the class was not enrolled in, there was no harm or foul. 3. If there is a problem of non-transferability, then why must the students suffer? It seems like this “solution” is only a putting a small bandage over a bigger problem. We should be working on total transferability of classes. Taking away theses humanities classes is not where this argument should be at. Taking away opportunities and education is not the path we should be heading in. I believe we need a reform in the way we treat our humanities and respect their significance.
    Thank you for reading.

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  29. Val Woldman

    Maybe we need to think back to why we got here– an African-American student asked why African-American HUM did not count for GenEd. That’s enough of a reason for me to support the inclusion of the four courses. I don’t teach any of the four courses in question, but I still think they should be included in Gen Ed. The “culture” classes and the “period” classes all meet the requirements for Gen Ed. I reject the argument that the culture classes are too specific. Asian Humanities, for example, covers the arts and culture of over 4 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, over thousands of years. Compared to any of the period classes, it is much more broad in scope. I also disagree with the idea of a diversity requirement, which further marginalizes these cultures. Our curriculum should reflect diversity and the equal value of every culture. Most Valencia students take just 6 credits of humanities. HUM 1020 gives them a broad exposure after which they must chose just one area for further exploration. Regardless of what they choose, culture or period class, their experience is limited to the scope of that one class.This is the happy tragedy of our discipline– it will take a lifetime of study and learning for students, and professors, to ever read and think about everything we offer in our curriculum. Our goal should not be to teach students everything in the humanities, an impossible task, nor should it be to choose which ideas and cultures are the most important. It’s time for a paradigm shift. In their two years at a Valencia, not every student will read Plato and Sartre and not every student will read Tao Te Ching or Bhagavad Gita. But whether they chose Greek and Roman, Twentieth Century, Asian, or another Humanities course, their choice should count for the Gen Ed requirement. The courses have equal value.

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  30. Cristian Medina

    I firmly stand by the fact that culture courses such as Asian Humanities should exist within the General Education institutional hours requirement. Some of the reasons for my believing this is as follows:

    1- In the United States we’re taught from a very early age about our history, and for the most part that’s about as far as it goes in regards to learning about history. I believe that our curriculum in the U.S. is severely flawed, and that what we’re taught is based off what politicians and other government officials (who generally aren’t very well informed about the system in the first place) tell the school systems in the respective areas to teach. Teaching others about the different regions of the world and expanding one’s knowledge of the world is nothing but positive in my eyes, and I find it imperative to teach others about the world which surrounds them. Moreover, by doing so you allow individuals to gain a lot of knowledge of foreign countries and their histories which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

    2- Another important factor for which I believe courses like Asian Humanities should remain in the Gen. Ed. curriculum is because of diversity. Now, diversity is something which I find to be particularly important in society. By allowing others to learn about other countries and their cultures as well as societal norms one can gain a much needed perspective of the world and it’s people. This helps us understand others through their languages, histories and cultures. Moreover, by doing so it reveals to us how people have tried to make moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of the world, as well as providing the ability to foster social justice and equality. Research into the human experience adds to our knowledge of the world. Through courses such as Asian Humanities we learn about the values of different cultures, about how history is made in a given culture, and how works of art such as music and paintings transcend time. Great accomplishments of the past such as art and culture help us understand the very world we live in, and gives us tools which we use to imagine the future.

    3- In a world which seems to get “smaller” each day thanks in part to the development and advancement of technology where you can speak with anyone “face-to-face” online in a matter of seconds, it’s imperative to obtain knowledge about the world and gaining a better understanding of this newfound knowledge of the world around you, because it teaches us to think creatively, and teaches us to reason about being human and to ask questions about our world. Moreover, thanks to humanities courses such as Asian Humanities they teach us to weigh evidence skeptically and consider more than one side of every concept, question, argument, or for that matter life itself. Which up for the most part up until college is quite literally only focused on the U.S. and our history without any regard being given to the rest of the world.

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  31. Lisbeth De Armas

    When I heard that getting rid of Asian humanities was something that was even being considered, I was completely baffled, and found myself with many things to say. First things first, I do not support getting rid of Asian humanities from Gen ed.
    1) Getting rid of Asian humanities would completely wipe out the diversity in the gen ed requirements. If we are only learning about eurocentric ideas how will we really understand ALL the cultures that influence us and the world around us. For example, BUDDHISM! Buddhism is very important part of Asian humanities, but it doesnt end there. Buddhism has influenced western culture more than people realize, but I have only learned Asian humanities. If you remove this from the gen ed requirements, you are robbing people of the opportunity to learn something different, something that will expand there worldview.
    2) If you have the teachers needed to teach this class, whats the problem? Keep the class around those who are genuinely are interested in taking this course. Unless part of the plan is firing teachers, I don’t see why you cant just take advantage of the resources you have available to you already.
    3) If there’s a transfer issue, we should focus on fixing the problem by making asian humanities transferable, NOT COMPLETELY TAKING IT OUT OF THE GEN ED, that’s laziness! You guys want to set an example, how about you stop taking the easy/obvious way out on this situation. Show us that problems have different solutions, that will benefit everyone! not “almost” everyone. If you keep the class you’re in NO way harming those who dont want to take the class, but if you dont keep it, you WILL be hurting someone.
    All in all, I believe more harm than benefit will coming from removing Asian humanities, Keeping this class will not only expand minds, but add variety to a society that is literally known as a melting pot, the least we could do is become a little bit more educated about the melting pot.

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  32. Steven Hernandez

    The values of diversity and transferability are both important, each speaking about the opportunities of students, but I am curious as to rather or not students were involved in the committee or any part of this forum? As a student that has taken Mythology, 20th Century and Asian Humanities, I find this curriculum committee very fascinating. What I have enjoyed from the humanities and have taken away from them is the beauty in various perspectives of the human experience. Each humanities course being a puzzle piece complementary to the other. If there are available resources to better understand others, question our world, foster opportunities for informed and critical citizens they why exclude the courses from the students. Many points have been brought up by both sides of faculty which carry their own merit. I will say that after reviewing Valencia’s vision, values, mission, strategic goals, and the humanities along with the foreign languages page. I personally believe it would be a great disservice to exclude the courses, mainly for the point that students looks at these courses with a fair share of interest some of course more so than others, but what they really focus on more than anything else is how the class will be thought by the professor and what level of critical thinking will be fostered from the class. It’s all collective when I wrote a paper on Marduk to better understand the Mesopotamian culture in mythology and the use of trade seals in connection to the Indus valley civilization that connected to my Asian humanities class. How Prince Siddhartha sought to better understand the world around him as well as the condition of our minds, The Zhou Dynasty Li and Yue concepts and how a concept from 1046 BC can still be utilized to this day. These are just a few examples as the puzzle pieces may take root and help student’s better grasp the world around them, provide multiple perspectives and appreciating the dimensions it adds to our quality of life as a global culture.

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  33. Jennifer Keefe

    I stand in favor of including the classes in the general education curriculum. Many solid arguments have been made, so I will not reiterate them; but I will say this: students want to see themselves when they walk into a classroom or make their choices of what classes to take.

    The question of diversity has been addressed, but I wonder what kind of statement do we make by making all of the Western Humanities required and not giving Asian, African American, or Arab as a gen ed option? I understand that transferability can be an issue, but not for students who complete the AA here. I think we need to be looking at the statement we make as a college when we subjugate some areas of our discipline.

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  34. Adriene Tribble

    It is odd to me that there seems to be so much push back from my Humanities colleagues for including these courses into Gen Ed now, especially as the tone for the past two years seemed to be that all (or most) were in favor of having them included.

    To my recollection, when two of the culture courses were removed from Gen Ed in 2014, the reasoning was as follows: we’d love to include these courses, but unfortunately, we cannot update the course outlines in a timely fashion. We can always add them back in when the course outlines are completed. We now have those updated course outlines, and so it seemed that our problem was solved.

    In the recording of the forum, there then seemed to be a new “problem” voiced: we’d love to include these courses, but unfortunately, they create substantial transferability issues. We now know these courses are not uniquely difficult to transfer as compared to our period courses or courses in other departments, and so it seems that this problem, too, is dispelled.

    Now there are suggestions that these courses are not general enough; our period courses are already diverse enough; the content of these courses is not important enough to citizens of the Western world; it will open the floodgates for all sorts of new courses; our part time faculty will suffer; and these classes may not be as academically rigorous.

    To this I would say: focusing on the entire history of contributions from the most populous continent of the world seems much more general than focusing on a few centuries of Western Europe; maybe our culture courses are Western enough; we live in a global society, and should be preparing students for encountering non-Western cultures; that would be a remarkable example of our continued commitment to diversifying our curriculum; staffing should follow the values in curriculum; and I find it insulting to suggest that these courses would be “easier.”

    There is a fear that including the culture courses will be threatening to our period courses in some way. Much like equality, our curriculum is not a limited resource in which there are only so many slices. To see our cultural courses as equal to our period courses in what they can offer our students in cultural and historical understanding does not diminish the value of the period courses.

    Our student population is a finite source, however, and I can now see how enrollment numbers may be the thing that has been driving this conversation all along. I don’t believe this fear of a dramatic reduction of enrollments in period courses is likely to happen. Even if it were, though, we should all agree that what is right for our students and our curriculum ought to supersede our own self-interests.

    I have nothing to personally gain from including the culture courses, as I cannot teach any of them. Perhaps I have something to lose, because the enrollments in my period courses or religion course could drop. Maybe a student will be more excited at the prospect of Latin American Humanities and opt to take that over my Twentieth Century, and she’ll be better off for that. We know that students are more likely to succeed when they feel enthusiastic about the choices that give them greater agency in their education.

    The value of these courses is inherent. In the era of Black Lives Matter, it seems glaringly obvious why a course like African American Humanities may be especially relevant, responsible, and important. I dare say that that content may be even more important than a student learning about Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” It’s time to step up as a college-wide department and say “yes” to bringing back all of the culture courses into General Education.

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  35. Diane Brown

    The argument here seems to be that the “culture courses” are too specialized for Gen Ed. I would argue that all of our Humanities courses are specialized. In Greek and Roman, for instance, students don’t learn about Enlightenment and Romanticism and vice versa. In Renaissance and Baroque students don’t learn about existentialism or World War II. To say that the “culture courses” are too specialized suggests that they don’t cover equivalent topics to those covered in the period courses. In Latin American Humanities, for example, art, philosophy, religion and history are covered. In Renaissance and Baroque art, philosophy, religion and history are covered. That the time period is different or the part of the world is different doesn’t make the “culture courses” less valid.

    George’s argument also seems to be that one must study Plato, Galileo or Sartre (which I’m sure are just intended as examples), but the truth is that one can take Mythology and learn about none of these people. Or one can take Enlightenment and Romanticism and learn about none of them. So, just because students take “period courses” that are Eurocentric doesn’t ensure that they are going to cover any specific person, philosophy, art, religion or history. Unless we go to HUM I and HUM II, there is no way to be sure that students will get a broad enough course to cover whatever specific list of topics one creates.

    As to the “culture courses” being too narrowly focused on a specific region, it could be argued that this is true of all of the Humanities courses. Greek/Roman generally only covers those two cultures. Renaissance/Baroque covers only the 14th through the 17th centuries, and Enlightenment/Romanticism only covers the 18th and 19th centuries. Twentieth century covers just one century. Taking Latin American or Asian Humanities is not akin to taking the “Horse Course.” The “culture courses” are not narrow in any sense that is not true for the period courses. In fact, one might argue that since the “culture courses” generally cover more time and often a wider geographic area they are, in fact, less specialized than the period courses.

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  36. Andrew Piercy

    It strikes me a peculiar that the HUM 2xxx courses taught at Valencia are all pretty specific to either time or culture, e.g. Greek and Roman. When looking at UCF’s gen ed classes the only HUM2xxx courses taught are more general in approach, e.g. HUM2210 Humanistic Tradition I. It seems there are two approaches to HUM 2000 level classes, either they are general in structure covering a wide cross-section of cultures and times or they are specific to one culture or time.

    If the later approach is what Valencia wishes to do then we must be careful not to value one culture over another when it comes to deciding what to teach. Either all HUM courses that are specific to one culture or time must be included or we need to create one HUM2xxx level course that is more inclusive and general.

    The learning objectives in the various HUM2xxx courses taught at Valencia appear to be pretty specific to the culture being taught. I have a hard time supporting the idea that a course focused on roman humanities is more important than one focused on any other culture.

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