The inefficiency of course approval

The University should make it easier for professors to collaborate in course creation.

by Daily Editorial Board

A July 10 Minnesota Daily article highlighted many faculty members’ growing frustration with inefficient course approval policies. Professors yearning to update courses and create more interdepartmental, collaborative classes feel stifled by the logistical requirements of the approval process. These obstacles discourage some professors from developing courses further in the future.

At the University of Minnesota, new courses must go through college and campus curriculum committees, which take into account student workload, content and number of suggested credits before slating the proposed course for approval. If the course wants to be certified in meeting a liberal education requirement, a separate approval determines its eligibility.

The University is not alone in this lengthy process. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an application for a general education requirement must be approved by department, college and divisional executive committees before general education eligibility can be granted.

While a higher level of scrutiny may be appropriate for institutions with so many course options, the process should not inherently afflict cross-collaboration between departments. If a course incorporating different departments or colleges must go through endless committee approvals for every department involved, students will be less likely to benefit from a potentially unique and innovative class. By consolidating departmental committee approvals, through joint or mixed department meetings, perhaps faculty will be more encouraged to develop these valuable learning experiences, and students will be able to fulfill requirements in a more creative manner.