Rachel Perron

Attention again returns to proposed study abroad and foreign language requirements at Miami University, as the Liberal Education Committee (LEC) will hold hearings on all three campuses to discuss increasing the Miami Plan’s emphasis on a global curriculum.

According to Nathan Zwayer, a Miami sophomore and student representative to the LEC, the hearings will be “feedback time”-a chance for the committee to present its reason for changing the Miami Plan and hear faculty and student input.

In December of last semester, a suggested proposal referred to as “Restructuring of the Foundation for The Global Miami Plan” was approved by the LEC.

According to the LEC’s Web site, the proposal is for discussion only.

“(The LEC) had to put something in writing to get people talking,” said Andrew K. Beckett, assistant dean of students for transition and assessment and member of the LEC.

According to the proposal, Miami Plan Foundations I, IV and V would remain the same while the LEC would modify Foundations II and III.

“The Miami Plan has been in place for about 15 years,” said Jerry Stonewater, director of liberal education and chair of the Global Miami Plan (GMP) Committee. “It’s appropriate to go back and look at curriculum since this is a requirement for every student in the university.”

In the proposed changes, Foundation II-which include classes in fine arts, humanities and social sciences-would decrease its credit requirement from 12 to nine, eliminating an additional three credit requirement (or an entire class).

Foundation III-currently the world and U.S. cultures requirement-would change to an as yet undefined “global perspectives” requirement.

The re-worked Foundation III would then offer two options for fulfilling this global studies requirement.

In the first option, students would complete six credit hours in a Miami-approved study abroad program. The second option calls for nine hours in either a foreign language or an as yet to be defined Miami Plan Foundation Global course (G-course).

Since the “global perspective” requirement will replace U.S. and world studies in Foundation III, the committee also proposes an additional culture requirement-similar to the current historical requirement. Courses that will fulfill this requirement would be labeled C-courses.

Like courses that fulfill the historical requirement, C-course will be able to overlap with other Miami plan courses.

Criteria for neither G- nor C-courses have been set, Stonewater said, though he did stress that the number of required credits would not increase.

Additionally, the proposal includes other initiatives to globalize the Miami Plan, including more first-year seminars emphasizing a global perspective, global courses offered as capstones and a study abroad thematic sequence

According to Beckett, the LEC put the proposal together along with information from the report the Global Miami Plan (GMP) Committee submitted in May 2007.

The GMP Committee, made up of 12 faculty members appointed by Provost Jeffrey Herbst in fall 2007, was created to make suggestions as to how the university could globalize its liberal education curriculum.

The GMP first announced its proposed changes at last semester’s university senate meeting Sept. 25, where the foreign language and study abroad requirements took center stage in the discussion.

These same issues are anticipated to be big topics again at the LEC hearings, Zwayer said “because they require the most change and flexibility.”

Which departments should be offering “globalized” Miami Plan classes is another issue Beckett said, as well as what is needed to consider the course “global.”

“After hearing input from students, faculty and staff, the LEC will then make its final set of recommendations to the university senate,” Stonewater said.

Only with the university senate’s approval, will any changes to the Miami Plan be made. The LEC has yet to set any timelines, but Stonewater said at their most optimistic, the new plan could be in effect in fall 2009 and only new, first-year students would have to follow the new plan.

Though the hearings were only advertised to faculty, Stonewater said, students are welcome to attend and give their input.

Hearings on Oxford’s campus are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in 46 Culler Hall, and 3 p.m. Wednesday in 101 Bachelor Hall.

Hearings at the regional campuses will be held in Hamilton at noon Feb. 5 and in Middletown at noon Feb. 7.

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