The Hillsdale College faculty will begin planning course schedules and other details for the Senior Capstone course after approving basic details of the class in a vote last Thursday.
The Class of 2020 will be the first required to take the course, which was first proposed in 2011. The capstone will be a one-credit course, offered every semester, comprised of five class-wide lectures from President Larry Arnn and five departmental lectures in a student’s own major, according to the proposal crafted by the provost’s office and the academic deans. The course will officially be offered starting in the Fall 2019 semester, Stephen Smith, professor of English and dean of humanities, said in an email. Smith said the course will conclude with written exams covering both sets of lectures.
In an email to The Collegian, Arnn said a one-credit course seems to be what faculty and students can manage with their schedules. He added it was also deemed a sufficient amount for the course. His lectures will focus on “liberal education, human nature, and ethics,” according to the proposal.
“The capstone will seek to review and associate the few best things in each part of the core,” Arnn said. “I will probably use readings from each of the core courses with an attempt to define the meaning and reason of each course and its relationship to the whole.”
Scheduling for Arnn’s component of the course will be worked around his schedule, and the lectures will likely take place outside regularly scheduled class periods, maybe on Sunday nights, according to Paul Moreno, dean of social sciences and professor of history.
“The presidential lectures will be videotaped so that people who can’t make it will have access to it,” he said.
The departmental lectures, however, will most likely be scheduled for regular class times. The goal, Moreno said, is to get as much of the senior class together for Arnn’s lectures, which will probably be held in a large space such as the Searle Center, according to the proposal.
Planning for each department’s involvement in the capstone course will continue throughout this semester and the summer so that the capstone will be fully prepared for next semester, Moreno said.
“The deans and department chairs are working on the individual department plans this semester,” Smith said. “Individual departments will plan the departmental side of the course for their majors and vet the plans with their dean before the class launches in the fall.”
In regard to faculty concerns about the logistics of the course and having enough professors to teach the departmental lectures — especially for larger departments — Moreno said the hope is the one-credit structure will take away some of the burden.
“For most of departments I’ve talked to in my division, we have enough people who are interested in doing it,” he said. “We will have an adequate number of sections for the students.”
Several students, who are technically members of the Class of 2020 but are graduating early, are currently taking a prototype version of the course, according to Moreno. The provost’s office is working with faculty to help these students since the official launch is in the fall, Smith said.
“They just got started. They will have a common reading instead of the presidential lectures,” Moreno said.
Arnn said he hopes his lectures and each department’s lectures will “enrich, elevate, and instruct each other.”
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said.