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Common Curriculum Reports Remain Confidential

All PostsNewsCommon Curriculum Reports Remain Confidential

story Scott Currie, Staff Reporter
reporting Yonatan Gazit, News Editor

The Common Curriculum is currently undergoing careful re-examination.
The Common Curriculum is currently undergoing careful re-examination. (David Zhang)

Despite concerns raised by students, there is currently no way for students to view the Common Curriculum self-study report in its entirety, even after the external review is complete. The report is part of the Common Curriculum Review process which began in mid-February with an internal review that resulted in the self-study report in mid-September. This report is then examined by an external review panel. Some students feel that their inability to access the report reflects a lack of transparency and sets a negative precedent.

In response to the students’ interest, President Pericles Lewis decided last week to release an executive summary of the self-study report and external review panel’s comments. The school administration initially stated that due to its sensitivity the self-study report would not be available to the student body, Rohan Naidu ’17, a vocal proponent of release of the full report, said. The report was released to faculty, the governing board and the external review panel.

Mr. Lewis said that the full report will remain confidential as the report “touches on personnel issues”, and he does not “want to be releasing information that could point to particular professors.” The executive summary will be released in mid-November, shortly after the external review panel completes its confidential recommendations. After the release of the executive summary, there will be opportunities for students to give feedback. Mr. Lewis emphasized the importance of confidentiality to help ensure that those giving their opinions could be as honest as possible.

Naidu said withholding the self-study report reflects badly on transparency within the school. “The whole overarching point is about transparency [and specifically] what kind of institution…  we want to build,” he said. The report is important in fostering a relationship of openness between students, faculty and the administration, he added.

The self-study committee ran several working parties and faculty feedback sessions, and created a Dean of Faculty’s Student Advisory Group (SAG) to develop the report. Following its submission, the self-study report was sent to the external review panel. This committee is composed of Yale University and the National University of Singapore  professors, and is chaired by Executive Vice-President Tan Tai Yong. The self-study  committee spoke to students, faculty and members of the self-study review committee. Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said the role of the external review panel was to give feedback on the self-study report and act as “another set of eyes from the outside looking in on both our process and our conclusions.”

The changes to the Common Curriculum will likely be decided  in mid-January, but changes are expected to take effect six months after. Mr. Bailyn said given the gravity of the recommended changes, the faculty would likely need a few months to finalize them. However, Mr. Lewis said he expects that “probably three quarters of the content of the curriculum will remain the same.” Mr. Bailyn added that all the recommended changes will be released to the student body before the faculty vote.

There will be further opportunities for student input, but the response so far could have been better. Liam Rahman ’17, who is a member of SAG responsible for collating student feedback, said he wished that there had been “more student involvement in the focus groups, lunchtime tables and answering survey questions.” Even before the release of the executive summary, the SAG will continue to solicit student opinion.

The external review panel met with students from both the SAG and the wider student body last week. Mr. Bailyn said it was intentional that no information from the self-study report was released before the meeting to students to ensure that it would not influence student opinion. Although there has been little response from the external committee so far, Mr. Bailyn said the committee thought that the review was “thorough” and added “new twists” in some of their recommendations.

Mr. Bailyn said most of the recommended changes from the internal self-study committee are specific to the curriculum’s implementation, and not the principle behind it.  

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