Digital Humanities Initiative

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CUNY and General Education

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    Scott Dexter

    Hi, all —

    This is a little bit off-topic, for which I apologize; I hope you’ll agree, though, that this is a subject which may have fairly profound and immediate consequences for the humanities at CUNY.

    In a couple of weeks, faculty at CUNY will no longer be responsible for making decisions about curricula. On May 2, the Board of Trustees will vote on an amendment to Section 8.6 of the Bylaws which will downgrade faculty’s responsibility for setting curriculum and other academic policies to the making of “recommendations” on such policies (see and scroll down to the bottom of page 7). Then, on June 27, CUNY’s Board of Trustees will vote on a second resolution to create a homogenizing framework for general education which will severely restrict both the autonomy of individual campuses and the number of credits devoted to general education (see

    The effects of these resolutions will be to substantially reduce the rigor of CUNY’s general education programs and thereby much less adequately prepare our students for their careers. It also wrests control over the curriculum away from faculty, who have the most direct contact with students and therefore know best how to meet their needs.

    Some of CUNY’s justification for this has to do with transfer; our students absolutely deserve a streamlined transfer process, but that is an operational matter, not an academic one. Faculty at individual campuses make curricular decisions based on the unique needs and dreams of their students; this “framework” will eliminate our ability to do that. Worst of all, cutting and homogenizing general education will decrease the value of CUNY degrees — past, present, and future.

    Many faculty and student bodies have already registered their displeasure with this general education framework (see; my colleagues and I at Brooklyn College have also started an online petition to allow individuals to express their concern and urge the Board of Trustees to reject these proposals.

    If you agree that the Trustees should reject these two proposals, please visit the petition at, and if you are a member of any organization within CUNY who might weigh in on this, please consider passing and publicizing a resolution (or whatever it is your organization does).

    Scott Dexter

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