P-12: DISCIPLINARY COMMUNITIES
The University Faculty Senate Report on Disciplinary Communities, passed on April 25, 2006, recommended that "multiple solutions" should be developed for "constructing and sustaining" disciplinary communities across University locations and named a number of possible procedures for sustaining such communities. Consequently, the following procedure outlines the steps for implementation on the part of each college administrator (dean/chancellor/vice president), or his or her designee, who holds the responsibility for establishing and encouraging disciplinary communities across the University:
1. Identify disciplinary communities and define memberships in them. For the purposes of this activity, "disciplinary communities" should be understood as those brought together to sustain undergraduate degree programs, although communities of faculty members may also organize themselves for other purposes. College administrators should develop measures for identifying the full-time faculty associated with each degree program under their jurisdiction (as well as part-time faculty when it is appropriate to do so) and inviting faculty to participate; and faculty members should then have the opportunity to self-identify themselves as members of particular disciplinary communities as they see fit. Faculty who wish to belong to a particular disciplinary community should normally be permitted to do so; faculty members may participate in as many communities as they wish. [Note: As an aid to accomplishing this goal, colleges and campuses should continue to work to offer common degree programs whenever possible, in an effort to reduce the confusing proliferation of degree programs; disciplinary communities might also build on mechanisms established for the Uniform Course Abbreviation process.]
2. Nurture disciplinary communities. Once participants are identified, they should be listed on the web sites of colleges and campuses (departments, divisions, schools, programs). The faculty, in conjunction with appropriate administrators, should be expected to establish leadership protocols applicable to the group and communicate about matters related to degree programs and other matters of mutual interest through at least one of the following mechanisms (the particular choice or choices depending on the characteristics and practices of the particular community):
• establishing an interactive list-serve made up of all members of the disciplinary community, including "generalists" who self-identify with one or more communities;
• setting one or more annual meetings carried on either in person or through videoconferencing;
• including faculty (by means of a suitable selection process) from a variety of locations on departmental or other committees which have academic authority over degree programs;
• employing any other means that the faculty within a particular community might devise.
Disciplinary communities can be sustained if members also respect other means of nurturing them, such as the distribution of newsletters, the formulation of annual reports, the posting of syllabi and other course materials for courses (especially prerequisite courses), the sharing of announcements about speakers and other academic events of interest, and so forth.
3. Promote consultation. Participants in a disciplinary community will be consulted in the following ways:
• Curricular proposals, both in early stages and when they are submitted for ANGEL consultation, will include evidence that members of disciplinary communities have been consulted about the advisability of the proposal.
• Disciplinary communities may recommend curricular changes themselves; that is indeed one of their primary functions.
• All issues of disciplinary interest, curricular and professional, should be addressed by disciplinary communities, including topics related to curricular integrity, assessment, and faculty development.
Disciplinary communities will not normally serve as a mechanism for determining financial or resource issues, or for adjudicating administrative issues, though of course communities may use the forum for developing recommendations. The goal is to empower faculty to share ideas, to consult easily and regularly about curricular and professional matters, and to build collegial relationships among faculty with common interest.
Communities should be characterized by fairness, mutual respect, and a desire for inclusiveness and broad participation.
4. Define responsibility. The responsibility for oversight for the disciplinary communities resides with the college administrators. On a periodic basis, the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE) will review the functioning and support of disciplinary communities across the University and share a summary of its findings with appropriate stakeholders.
Ref: University Faculty Senate Advisory and Consultative Report on Disciplinary Communities, April 2006
Approved: ACUE (4-5-07)
The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information. Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.