Be Careful What You Wish For

I remember the first time I heard that the history department where I was working on my PhD was going to offer an introductory course called “World History.” Several of us in the TA office had a good chuckle over that one…After all it was hard enough to teach the first or second half of Western Civ/US History. How could anyone offer a course that included the entire world? As I remember, we scoffed at the notion and, well pleased with ourselves, concluded that was World History doomed to fail.

One more example of why historians shouldn’t predict the future…

And, irony of ironies, starting August 16 I will take over as Director of George Mason’s Global Affairs program–a multi-disciplinary program with 650 BA students and 25 MA students in a new graduate program. I’ve been running the MA program since it’s inception last year and have enjoyed it immensely, but am more than a little nervous about taking over our College’s fourth largest undergraduate major.

Why, you might ask? For one thing, I’m going to run a very large undergraduate program with no faculty. Such is the nature of multi-disciplinary studies in America. With no faculty, it will be difficult to plan a consistent curriculum for our students. For another, I’m not sure how one assesses the results of learning in a multi-disciplinary context. Regular readers of this blog know that learning is at the top of my list of concerns when it comes to our students and the curriculum they are following. I can already foresee a new reading list growing in front of me.

So if you have any good suggestions for books, articles, or whatever that will help me make sense of how to assess learning in a multi-disciplinary undergraduate program, please suggest them in the comment field below. I need all the help I can get…

One thought on “Be Careful What You Wish For

  1. Matt

    On the multi-disciplinary front, Louis Menand’s _The Marketplace of Ideas_ might be an interesting read. Check out Claire Potter’s provocative review, which might, in itself, be interesting to you as well.

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