Uncertainty looms for proposed Department of Western Civilizations
The future of a proposed Department of Western Civilizations remains uncertain, according to members of the CU Board of Regents.
The department was a project of regent member Tom Lucero and former regent member Jerry Rutledge, was supposed to be discussed at the monthly regents meeting in Boulder on Jan. 18. It was pulled from the agenda when members of the board agreed that the department lacked the research necessary to found the program.
Lucero said the founding of the program is now in the hands of the faculty and administration.
“The ball is in their court,” Lucero said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “In essence, we’re in a holding pattern waiting for the faculty and administration to come forward with some analysis and determination as to the best way to move forward.”
The process for the creation of such a department primarily involves the faculty, administration and Board of Regents, Lucero said. In the past, the creation of departments has usually started with the faculty who, after gathering research and establishing the need for a department, present their findings to the regents. The regents then have the final authority on whether or not the department will be adopted.
Lucero and Rutledge decided to pitch their idea for the Department of Western Civilization by planning to present the idea without the coordination of any faculty members. Because of this, some board members questioned whether enough thought had been put into the development of the department.
Regent Michael Carrigan said he and other members of the board were opposed to the department because they knew nothing about it beyond its name.
“No one knew what it was supposed to be,” Carrigan said. “It came to us with no underlying research, no examination of how big the department would be, who would teach it, who would fund it, who would take such courses and whether employers were interested in having graduates from such a department.
Typically, there are years of research that go into the creation of such departments, and none of that had been done.”
Lucero recognized the lack of research that had been done for the project and agreed with faculty representative R.L. Widmann to hold off on the project until the faculty and administration put forth the analysis, research and planning necessary to found the department.
Lucero was hoping to introduce a program that emulated the Great Books programs at schools like St. Johns and Notre Dame. Lucero, who majored in political science at University of Colorado at Denver, wanted the program to combine the “diverging perspectives of human history” like philosophy, economics and history. This would, in turn, give students more than the isolated view that majors like political science or philosophy offered.
“Really, [the department was] born out of this Great Books program that gives students a very wide curriculum and depth of knowledge that they otherwise can’t get at a college campus,” Lucerno said.
Mark Moskowitz, a sophomore political science major, said he is already receiving the sort of education that the department would aim to offer.
“Right now, I’m taking an economics class and two poli-sci classes, and I’ve taken philosophy classes in the past,” Moskowitz said. “I feel I’m already getting that sort of education that the department would give.”
Still, Lucero hopes faculty members and administration can cooperate with the regents to ensure that there will be a future for the Department of Western Civilizations at CU.
“We’ve all agreed that we’ll study, analyze and then, once we have the information needed, determine the best way to move forward. That’s the direction we’re heading in,” Lucero said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Brian Beer at firstname.lastname@example.org.