The name VECTOR has multiple significances. Vectors are, of course, mathematical entities which every engineer and physicist must learn to love. But the hame has more subtle implications. THE VECTOR could serve as a force on campus, providing students with direction; and it might skewer some sacred cows, prick some sensibilities, and puncture some egos.
The next day he got it back with this note attached: "This document did not concern you. Please erase your initials and initial your erasure."
Our college has introduced a degree in General Studies (which some have been unkind enough to call "a degree in Nothing.") The degree is innovative, but doesn't go far enough. We therefore propose a new degree program in the same spirit, but further liberalizing the old-fashioned curricula: a degree in Trivial Studies.
In the past, traditional degrees have been criticized for producing specialists who "know more and more about less and less." Our Trivial Studies degree will turn this trend around 180° and produce generalists who "know a little about everything and not much about anything." While there will be no required courses, special courses will be developed in the spirit of the program. A typical four-year program might look something like this:
Math 0.001 Introduction to Elementary Addition Biol 22 How to tell the Birds from the Flowers Phys Ed. 3 Philosophy of Sports in Ancient Greece Eng 10 How to Tell Jokes (Clean)Sophomore Year:
Math 0.002 Elementary Addition Mus 88 Listening to Rock Music Anthro 77 Sex Practices in Remote Cultures HIST 42 The Lighter Side of the Spanish Inquisition Eng 11 How to Tell Jokes (Dirty)Junior Year:
Math 0.003 Intermediate Addition Aero Eng 41 Aerospace Workshop (Bring sufficient paper for five planes.) Ed 400 Advanced Methods of Blackboard Use Psych 350 Novel Ways to Torture RatsSenior Year:
Math 0.004 Advanced Addition Phys 500 Quantum Mechanics Without Math Chem 99 Chemistry of Illegal Drugs Human Soc Sci4O Human Sexuality Practicum (lab science credit) Students shall be expected to supply their own lab equipment.We are assured this proposal will easily pass the curriculum committee (on the basis of past practice.) But first, several problems must be solved. Which college department shall have jurisdiction over the program? The School of Health and Recreation is making a strong case that it should be in their domain, since they already offer the greatest number of courses appropriate to the program. But as we wish to avoid specialization in any one area, we propose it be put under the direct control of a person most experienced in dealing in triviality. Surely one of our administrators will qualify; applications will be accepted immediately upon program approval.
And finally, the rules demand that all proposed new courses be supported with complete syllabi, prepared in the approved format, with catalog descriptions. Our readers are invited to submit catalog descriptions of courses in the spirit of this program. The best will be printed in future issues.
[Update and explanation, 2002. Back in 1976 when this was written, LHU had begun offering a summer aerospace workshop, which still exists. The faculty was considering proposals for curricular reform which would have allowed any depertment to offer courses satisfying broad requirements in any academic field. The Phys Ed Department was already considering a course in history of sport to satisfy the history requirement. Various versions of similar curriculum satires and parodies circulated widely at many schools at that time as the movement to dummy-down courses and curricula gained momentum.]
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