“New College” to Replace UNI
Proposal for undergraduate honors program online for BU review
A new four-year undergraduate honors program, which includes cross-disciplinary classes, intensive seminars, independent studies for seniors, and a possible residential component, has been proposed by the committee charged with creating a replacement for the University Professors Program.
The proposal for New College, the tentative name of the program, was submitted to the Faculty Council last week and is available for faculty and student review at the Provost’s Office Web site. Unlike UNI, which stopped accepting applications this year, New College will not be a separate degree-granting college within Boston University; rather, the emphasis will be on bringing together students in all of the existing liberal arts and professional programs and allowing them to work with faculty and with one another on interdisciplinary, collaborative research.
“This is not a traditional honors program, cordoned off from the rest of the University,” says Charles Dellheim, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences history department and the head of the Committee to Design the University Honors Program. “New College is going to try to open up possibilities across the University. It’s a very consciously cooperative enterprise.”
The proposed curriculum encompasses all four years of an undergraduate program and features two semester-long freshman seminars called Approaching the World, a sophomore lecture series called Architecture of Discovery, a one-semester junior-year course called Proposal and Performance, and a keystone research project during senior year, for a total of 28 credits earned in New College. Students will also complete a research internship during the summer of their sophomore year.
The program is designed to introduce students to both research topics and methodology. The freshman courses are intended to focus on timely and provocative issues in ethical, social, political, economic, scientific, technological, and aesthetic discourse; examples given in the proposal include Life, Death, and Law, Genetics and Biological Ethics, Mind and Machines, Global Warming, Art and Memory, and Diversity and Justice. The sophomore courses focus on different modes and approaches to academic research. As juniors, students begin preparing for their senior keystone projects, which will be the equivalent of the senior thesis for most students.
“The goal here is to enable the rich and broad set of intellectual opportunities represented by all our schools and colleges to be offered to our undergraduates through New College,” says Provost David K. Campbell. “We expect that the many novel aspects of the New College program, and in particular its creation of a community of scholars engaged in thinking broadly across important topics, will be very attractive to highly motivated students who wish to be intellectually challenged in their undergraduate education.”
The proposal also includes a recommendation for New College housing; Dellheim says the details have not been worked out and could mean a floor in a residence hall or a specialty-housing brownstone, for example. “We are not trying to segregate people,” he says, “but it is important that there will be a place where people can come and talk to each other.”
Current UNI students were involved in developing the proposal for New College. Andrew Smolenski (SMG’09, UNI’09), the president of UNI’s student government, has been meeting with Dellheim throughout the semester to discuss plans and bring student suggestions to the committee. “Our biggest concern with discontinuing UNI was the fate of UNI’s interdisciplinary concentrations,” Smolenski says. “We think they’re very important. We were asked to come up with ideas for set majors that might replace the interdisciplinary concentrations and asked what classes we thought they should draw from and what professors should be involved.”
Approximately 200 students will be accepted into the program the first year, with a total of 800 students expected in the college. Applicants will be asked to indicate whether they want to be considered for New College on their application; students not accepted may have the opportunity to transfer into the college after their freshman year.
BU President Robert A. Brown announced last July that UNI would be phased out as a freestanding unit in favor of a new University-wide honors program. The decision was based on the recommendation of the ad hoc committee on the University Professors Program, which called for creating a broad-based honors program that would give undergraduates a four-year curriculum with the flexibility to major in disciplines throughout the University.
Current UNI students will graduate from the University Professors Program, which will be reflected in their diplomas.
Jessica Ullian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments