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The Great Books: Executive Committee Minutes

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Minutes of the Great Books Executive Committee


January 23, 2004

Members: Debbie Anderson, David Conradt, Rand Evans, Charles Fantazzi, John Given, Robert Hammond, Brian Harris, Gordon Hull, Elizabeth Layman, Kevin Moll, James Reho, Assoc. Dean Scott Snyder, John Stevens, Edmund Wall, David Wilson-Okamura, Tricia Wilson-Okamura

Members Present: D. Anderson, J. Given, B. Harris, G. Hull, K. Moll, J. Reho, S. Snyder, J. Stevens, D. Wilson-Okamura, T. Wilson-Okamura

Meeting #2, January 23, 2004.

Prof. Stevens called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m. in Bate 2002.

Agenda Item 1. Current Class

Prof. Stevens reported that Prof. Moll is currently teaching Issues in Aesthetics and Art Criticism as Great Books 4000. There are seven students enrolled in the class.

Agenda Item 2. Future Classes

Prof. Reho discussed plans to teach the Great Books of Science as the Fall 2004 Great Books course. He envisions that he and Prof. Hammond will team-teach the course, and invited others to participate in the course as their availability and interests allow.

Agenda Item 3. Speakers

There are several upcoming speakers sponsored related programs.

  • Prof. Orville Day of Physics will give a talk in late February (date tentative) about the scientific revolution.
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies will sponsor a talk by Prof. Christopher Celenza of the History Department at Michigan State University. Prof. Celenza will discuss "Decadent Platonisms." Date: February 5, 2004.
  • The Classical Studies Program will sponsor a talk by Prof. Thomas McCreight from Loyola College in Maryland on March 29. The topic of the talk will probably be about the novel Cold Mountain and its use of the Odyssey.
  • The Great Books Program will sponsor a talk by Catriona Hanley of Loyola University (Baltimore), who will speak on Aristotle and Heidegger, also on March 29. Profs. T. and D. Wilson-Okamura agreed to try and find an additional speaker.

Agenda Item 4. Development of Great Books Program

Prof. Stevens and Prof. Anderson discussed cooperation between Great Books and the Honors program for filling out the Great Books curriculum. Prof. Stevens suggested - and noted that the Registrar has agreed - that Great Books may propose a section number analogous to the 299 section number that Honors uses. With this in place, faculty in any discipline could offer Great Books-style seminars under pre-existing course numbers. Prof. Anderson is to take this idea to the Honors Program Executive Committee, and discuss whether such sections might receive Honors credit and thus be advertisable to Honors students. Prof. T. Wilson-Okamura will also attend the Honors meeting as the Great Books representative.

The Great Books Committee's reaction to the proposal was of general enthusiasm for expanding the curriculum. There was, however, concern that faculty would be able to persuade their department Chairs to allow them to teach what would be significantly smaller classes. Hopefully, the chance for departments to educate their most dedicated students in the fundamental texts of their discipline would be attractive to Chairs. It was also recognized that support for this program would have to come from the top administrative levels, at least the Vice Chancellor, in order to offset the costs associated with a drop in the number of students enrolled in the courses.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.