Co-chairs

  • Catherine Epstein, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of History (ex officio, non-voting)
  • Geoffrey Sanborn, Professor of English

Members

  • Amrita Basu, Domenic J. Paino 1955 Professor of Political Science and Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies
  • Daniel Curtis '16*
  • Jeffrey Ferguson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Black Studies*
  • Adam Honig, Professor of Economics and Direcor of the Moss Quantitative Center
  • Nicholas Horton, Professor of Statistics
  • Natasha Kim '18
  • hari stephen kumar, instructional designer/technologist**
  • Olivia Pinney '17***
  • Nancy Ratner, Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Academic Projects (ex officio, non-voting)
  • Missy Roser, Head of Research and Instruction, Frost Library
  • Hanna Spinosa (chief institutional research and planning officer)* 
  • Boris Wolfson, Associate Professor of Russian
  • Wendy Woodson, Roger C. Holden 1919 Professor of Theater and Dance  
*2015-16
**2015-17
***2016-17

Charge to the Curriculum Committee, June 2015

The 2015 strategic plan affirms Amherst College’s commitment to liberal arts education. That commitment requires us to reflect periodically on what we want our curriculum to be. In accordance with the strategic plan’s recommendation, the Committee of Six charges the Curriculum Committee with exploring how the college can continue to offer an outstanding and relevant liberal arts education that empowers our students with the knowledge, capabilities, and habits of mind to be thoughtful and engaged citizens of a changing world.

The committee will consider three crucial aspects of liberal arts education at Amherst:

  • What intellectual skills and capacities do we hope to instill in our students?
  • What are the curricular implications of our commitment to diversity?
  • What are the advantages and drawbacks of the open curriculum in creating the Amherst education we seek to impart?

Beyond these most critical issues, the committee should consider a range of other questions:

  • Are there areas of the curriculum that should be expanded, reorganized, contracted, or receive new emphasis? Are there new areas of knowledge or modes of inquiry that should be introduced?
  • What procedures should be in place to allow the introduction of new knowledge into the curriculum? What are the costs and benefits of adding new departments and/or programs?
  • What are the best and most efficient ways of achieving a balance between interdisciplinarity and field specialization?
  • How might we best embed interest in global affairs into our curriculum?
  • Is the majors program serving students well? What are the advantages and disadvantages of double majors? Should we consider a system of minors?
  • Should we consider a system that allows more flexible assignment of course credits?
  • How can we create classrooms that are fully inclusive and meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds and with different learning styles? Are there existing practices on campus that should be reinforced?
  • How can we best foster the writing, quantitative, and critical thinking skills of our students?
  • Without sacrificing rigor, should we adopt practices that could reduce academic pressure on students and enhance learning?
  • What role should experiential learning play at Amherst?
  • What role should non-credit skill-based courses play at Amherst?

It is expected that the committee will raise additional questions during the course of its work.

To inform its review and recommendations, the committee should explore the practices of other institutions. It should also consult broadly with the faculty and other campus constituencies. It should rely heavily on institutional research and data.

The committee will be composed of seven members of the faculty, two members of the staff, and two students. In addition, the dean of the faculty, the director of institutional research, and the researcher for academic projects will serve on the committee ex officio, without vote.

The committee will submit its report to the Committee of Six by fall 2017. If adopted by the faculty, the committee’s recommendations will inform the college’s institutional plans, hiring initiatives, and fund-raising priorities.