At last there is resolution on the course I and several colleagues proposed to our General Education Committee that was designed to meet the (now revised) information technology requirement for graduation from George Mason [earlier posts]. One year, four months, and nine days after the course syllabus was approved by our College Curriculum Committee (and after first a revision of the IT requirement and then a revision of the syllabus to reflect the changes in the requirement), the General Education Committee voted to reject the course.
We can, of course, still offer the class (and probably will), because our College approved it. It just won’t count toward the university’s general education requirements. This means the class will only accomplish one of its goals — to introduce undergraduate history majors to the digital humanities in a rigorous way. The other goal — extending the reach of the course to the rest of the undergraduate population — will only be partially achieved because now the students outside our department who take the course will not be able to count the course toward their university general education requirements. Instead, they will have to choose from one of the following courses:
Anthropology 395: Work, Technology, and Society: An IT Perspective
Chemistry 350: Computer Techniques for Chemistry
Computer Science 130: Computing for Scientists
Criminology 300: Political Analysis
Engineering 117: Information Technology in Engineering
Government 300: Political Analysis
Information Technology 103: Introduction to Computing
Music 415: Music in Computer Technology
Each of these courses is, I’m sure, quite worthy in its own right, and our students will still have a reasonable variety to choose from. The sad part is that our own majors will now have to select one of these courses rather than a course taught by one of the faculty members who is part of the Center for History and New Media, arguably the most important digital humanities center in the world.
The chair of the General Education Committee did offer us the opportunity to revise the syllabus yet again. Given that it has taken one year, four months, and nine days to get to the point of a second rejection of the course syllabus, I am throwing in the towel and giving up. It’s possible that someone else in the department may take up the challenge. I don’t often admit defeat, but I am simply too busy with other responsibilities (finishing a book, running a grad program, raising my children) to keep fighting what appears to be a losing battle no matter which way I look at it.