Liberal Studies is at the very heart of the second and third cross-campus strands (K-12 Education and Liberal Arts Polytechnic) listed on Page 1. We are one of the larger undergraduate programs on campus and by far the largest K-12 education-related program; we have more majors than the credential programs and EWS combined; we are 45% of the total CEIS majors (including grad). In addition to our centrality to the K-12 educational mission of Cal Poly, we provide the only general Liberal Arts major on campus, in keeping with the “Liberal Arts Polytechnic” strand. Anecdotally, about 15% of our majors wish to earn a general Liberal Arts BA, in which they combine classes in general education, humanities, social sciences, math and science into an interdisciplinary BA. Among the students wishing such a BA are a large number of re-entry students (primarily female), a population whose needs are not addressed by the academic programs part of P&R.
Faculty Diversity: We have 4 tenure-track faculty, 3 female and 1 male. Our first-time students were 21% male and 79% female, as close a match as possible. Our tenure-track faculty is ½ Latina; our majors are approximately ½ Latinas. Our students are approximately ⅓ white; our tenure-track faculty is ½ white. We have approximately 10% API students; we have one API lecturer with a 3-yr, 5-class/yr entitlement. Thus, our faculty diversity does have a close match to our students.
Demand: Our program has risen and then declined in number of majors since 2000; the recent decrease is healthy, because our numbers are finally coming into some balance with our limited resources. We are fortunate to now have a full-time advisor to students, which will help us meet students’ needs.
Thus, the recommendation for stable funding is reasonable. If, as predicted, there is a great increase in the need for teachers in the next few years, we would expect to see an increase in LS majors, and we would need additional resources.
Relocation: The recommendation with which we most disagree is that LS be part of CLASS. LS has strong connections with the content departments in CLASS and SCI in whose departments our students take courses, but the primary career track for our majors is teaching, and we are a primary feeder to the multiple subject and special ed credential programs. While we can easily work with CLASS and SCI departments even though we are in CEIS, it is MUCH easier to work with the Ed programs when we are in the same college. Many LS (7 of 22) programs across the CSU system are in Colleges/Schools of Ed, and we believe we should be also; we are already joined to education, and need to stay that way.
Program Structure: We are puzzled that the “Committee recommends that the program be structured for teacher preparation as a recognized priority where content knowledge is emphasized.” We ARE primarily structured for teacher prep (though we also cherish our general Liberal Arts students) – and our pre-teaching students DO take the content courses in English, History, Geography, Math, Science, Fine Arts, PE and Human Development to prepare themselves to pass CSET and become teachers. Even our non-teachers take a wide range of content courses in humanities, social science, math and science in addition to GE requirements. Our LS-prefix courses model the critical thinking and interdisciplinary teaching required of teachers, and our LS 459 & 460 comprise an in-depth look at the socially and ethnically diverse populations in public-school classrooms.
External Support: We have strong participation in the TQE grant, and are redesiging our curriculum with TQE support. We do look forward to working with Ed faculty to seek additional support – and this will be much easier if we are in the same college.
Summary: We agree with the “stable funding” recommendation; we strongly disagree with relocation to CLASS, and we have concerns about how our faculty diversity and program structure have been addressed.