Keep the Course Guide

I have just learned that, as part of a major suite of changes in the PeopleSoft system, which the University of Minnesota uses for many administrative tasks, the Course Guide, currently available to students at OneStop on the University web page, is slated to be eliminated in January. As far as I know, there have been no faculty or student consultations about this significantly damaging decision.

I use the Course Guide regularly to advise students not only on courses to take within my own department but also on courses offered across the University. I occasionally use it to learn what courses are offered in other departments for other purposes, including determining what is being taught in subjects in which I take an interdisciplinary interest.

But the larger issue concerning the ill-advised decision to eliminate the Course Guide is that when it is gone, there will be no publicly available source of information about the academic offerings of the entire University. Among other audiences, I think that state legislators should be concerned about that.

I am told that the justification for elimination is that it is not heavily used by students. That kind of reasoning is typical of the consumer-demand-driven thinking that dominates much decision making at the University and which is altering the University in deleterious ways. If students are not using the Course Guide much, they should be helped, encouraged and taught how to do so — so that they can organize and plan their education in a rational, well-informed way. Improvement of the software for those purposes would be welcome. Elimination is not.

I remind the misguided administrators perpetrating this folly that a university is, by definition, an institution which takes all knowledge for its province and that it is publicly obliged to make those universal offerings accessible. The administration repeatedly declares its devotion to the interdisciplinary. Eliminating the Course Guide makes any kind of interdisciplinary study, scholarship or research more difficult. The decision to eliminate the Course Guide should be reversed and either the current guide or an equivalent should continue to be made available to students, faculty, staff and the public.