Yesterday, President Hodge announced that Western will become a program in Miami University’s College of Arts and Sciences in July 2008. We were all hoping that it would become a department in CAS, but beggars (supplicants?) can’t be choosers. Whatever else WesternLite© is going to look like, they’ve promised a self-designed major, a living/learning community based in Peabody Hall, a core faculty, and a culminating senior project and Senior Conference.
The crucial step will be re-designing the curriculum. I’m assuming that since Western will be a program in CAS, it will have to stick closer to the “Miami Plan” than in the past. This will probably mean a more robust science requirement, along with a foreign language. I personally think it’s a crime that Western didn’t previously require foreign language courses — in a setting where multi-culturalism is supposedly such a value, why would students not be required to learn the language of another culture? Surely, it would be a better exercise than some lame seminar on colonialism…
Yesterday, I had coffee with a creative writing teacher, and we were talking about how well groomed all college students are these days — they have all the right grades, all the right extra-curriculars…but they don’t know a damned thing. They don’t have any truly interesting experiences. Western wasn’t immune from this overall phenomenon, but it still tended to attract more offbeat, quirky, somewhat intelligent and freethinking students than main campus. With Western “integrated” into CAS, who knows what’s in store.
All in all, I’d call this a small victory. We’ll see what happens.