Methodology: Course Creation at The King’s College
This Spring semester The King’s College added another Major to the curriculum: English. Announced in January, the new English Major bumps the institution's program total to six, following the recent creation of the Religious and Theological Studies Major. These two additions sparked increased interest among students in the efforts behind how and why Majors are chosen and created. The Empire State Tribune asked faculty members Dr. Matthew Parks (Assistant Professor of Politics and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), Dr. Ethan Campbell (Associate Professor of English) and Dr. Mark Hijleh (Vice President for Academic Advancement and Dean of Faculty) about the academic and administrative process behind Major and course creation. The following is an overview of the process, via email correspondence with the aforementioned interviewees.
The Process and Participants
From proposal to implementation, the specifics for Major additions to The King’s College works case-by-case. However, the general process, for all new Majors, runs along a similar track.
A faculty member's new Major proposal comes first before the members of the academic program of interest. Once the proposal is accepted, the proposer(s) then submits the Major to the curriculum committee. The curriculum committee consists of a team of faculty members who evaluate the proposal.
“After faculty approval, the proposal went to the administration—the Dean of Faculty, the President, and the Board of Trustees—to decide whether and how to commit institutional resources toward the new Major,” Dr. Campbell stated, in regard to the new English Major.
Subsequently Board approved, the proposer(s) submits paperwork to the New York State Board of Regents for final accreditation. Finally, after accreditation, faculty members may promote the new Major among current and prospective students.
The process of implementation, although seemingly straightforward, takes significant time and commitment for actualization. Understanding that new Majors must align with The King’s College mission and established curriculum is an important factor.
In addition to the overarching programs, any new proposals must align with the direction established by the Board of Trustees. The Board holds, both indirectly and directly, the final authorization on the part of the college. Determining where funds and resources are allocated, additions to the academic program are decided among the Board.
Any new academic proposals are usually set to fulfill the goals of several initiatives. Resources and demand are also taken into consideration when academic programs are added (or removed). In the case of the RTS and English Majors, the two include curriculum currently offered. Both were natural additions to The King’s College based on the Core Curriculum and supplementary courses.
Accreditation and Course Offerings
Along with the Board, when proposing new academic courses, the Master Plan constrains King's programs. The Master Plan consists of the rights and limitations set up by the NY State Education Department, which also corresponds with the accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The college’s accreditation limits the types of complete academic Major programs that can be offered.
Currently, the college's accreditation Majors falls under humanities and professional courses (like those in business and finance). Certain programs within studies, such as those in the social sciences, cannot be offered as full Majors, although they may be in specific elective courses. Majors, for example, like Communications or Sociology, fall under a social science discipline.
“All proposed Majors must fall within the academic divisions for which we have New York State approval to offer Majors (e.g. the humanities, but not the social sciences)," said Dr. Parks.
Although Majors in the social sciences are not currently offered, King's interdisciplinary studies programs provides students the opportunity to participate in an array of classes (e.g., economic and politics). King’s unique Majors offer courses in social science programs, as long as they are in combination with the humanities portion of philosophy.
Preparing for the Future
The process behind the creation and alteration of academic programs is only one part of the overall direction of The King’s College. As the college continues to grow, programs seek to prepare students for future success while providing a foundation of classical literature, art and philosophy.
In addition to a classical-based curriculum, Dr. Hijleh shared about new, non-Major specific academic programs.
“One example of a new academic initiative, which is not a new Major but that springs from research among our constituents and a desire to help King's students and graduates succeed in further advancing our mission as they advance their careers and calling: The NEOS initiative, in which we encourage students to explore important skills and perspectives at the intersections of technology, enterprise, culture and creativity. We are building this out incrementally by offering modest workshops (and perhaps courses) around such topics as coding/web development, collection and use of data, software tools for visual design and communication, and technology entrepreneurship, which we hope to expand in number and scope in the coming months and years while also helping students connect with events and resources in the City along these lines,” Dr. Hijleh explained.
Moving forward, the combination of both theory and practice allows students to make the most of their time at King’s while investing in their future.
For more information about the English Major please read the article published on The King’s College website on Jan 25, 2016. Thanks to Dr. Parks, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hijleh for their time and thoughtful answers.