December 3–5, 2009

Interdisciplinary Studies
Following introductions, Bruce Duthu '80, chair of the Native American studies (NAS) major, spoke about NAS in the context of the interdisciplinary academic program at Dartmouth. As background, he noted that President Kemeny, in 1970, rededicated Dartmouth to its founding principles of educating Native peoples. In 1972, NAS was established. Not to be confused with the Native American program, which is run out of the Dean of the College area and focuses on support for Native students, NAS operates within the Dean of the Faculty area as an interdisciplinary academic program. Michael Dorris was its founding chair. Most of the faculty hold joint appointments in NAS and another academic discipline. Duthu, appointed in 2008, holds the first full appointment to NAS. The department has a full assistant professor as well. The principle behind the interdisciplinary approach is the creation of a structure that avoids isolation of an academic area. By linking it to other areas of study such as history, anthropology, and government, NAS becomes integrated into the core of the academic program. NAS has now matured to the extent that it no longer needs so many joint appointments. Its courses are popular and have vigorous enrollment. Some courses this fall were oversubscribed. On average, there are 25 majors and 6 minors; there are also several double majors. Duthu strongly believes in the value of interdisciplinary studies, and is proud Dartmouth takes seriously the idea that liberal arts means students have to be comfortable shifting in and out of different worlds.

Lindsay Whaley, associate dean of the faculty for international and interdisciplinary studies, stated that there are more than 10 interdisciplinary programs, including NAS, linguistics and cognitive studies, Jewish studies, women's studies, environmental studies, African and African-American studies, Asian studies, Latin American studies, international studies (a minor), and war and peace studies. New programs that may come online are digital arts and sustainability. Dartmouth is a leader in the field of interdisciplinary studies. NAS and African and African-American studies were among the first such programs in the world. We created the standard for other institutions. Some programs are structured like departments and others are spread out among several departments, depending on size and curriculum. On the positive side, these programs allow for innovation in the curriculum and help students navigate in multiple worlds. These are good skills for the workplace. There are challenges though, including the risk that the academic program becomes superficial. It also poses a difficult balancing act for faculty whose work cuts across two departments. Lately, the focus has turned from regional to theoretical, and Dartmouth needs to make sure that there is faculty expertise in regional studies.

Most of the academic programs are stable or have grown. The only exception is Jewish studies, which has not been as successful.

Although there is no formal interdisciplinary requirement, the vast majority of students samples one to three courses rather than choose a major from these programs. Double majors are also very common.

Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science 
Shreoshi Majumdar '10 and Peter Chen '10 joined the committee for a discussion about this publication, which is the leading undergraduate science journal in the country. It was established 12 years ago, supported by a faculty board. Open to all students of science, DUJS is a place for undergraduates to publish review articles or research papers. The staff of 40 students conducts rigorous editing for this high-quality journal. Some of the issues have themes, such as drug development, environmental science, evolution, and "visualizing the invisible." The publication schedule is year-round: fall, winter, and spring.

In addition to the print journal, there is a website for online science news, faculty interviews, events, seminars, lectures, and podcasts.

The print journal has domestic and international subscribers. The staff also holds events; during a recent event science writers were invited to talk about careers in science writing. The budget is $27,000 per year, but that budget is under stress.

DUJS has multiple generations of students and more articles per issue and more issues per year than any other institution. Undergraduates are actually doing the research and writing about it. Dartmouth is first and best in the nation!

 Ideas for the Spring Council Meeting

  • Dartmouth's reaccreditation process
  • Evidenced-based decision-making (how student and faculty performance is tracked)
  • International programs (this was covered recently)
  • Election of the committee vice chair from first-year councilors

Other suggestions are welcome.