A timeline of the Core reform process

On Nov. 22, NYU Abu Dhabi’s faculty will vote on whether or not to submit the current draft proposal for a new Core Curriculum to the Provost for ...

On Nov. 22, NYU Abu Dhabi’s faculty will vote on whether or not to submit the current draft proposal for a new Core Curriculum to the Provost for consideration. The vote is the most definitive and far-reaching stage of discussions on the Core reform since NYUAD opened its doors in 2010. Here, The Gazelle recounts some key instances in the development of conversation about changes to the Core:

Fall 2013

Student Government’s Representative Committee for Academic Divisions implemented a survey to gauge the student body’s satisfaction with the Core. The survey was carried out through the Student Portal as well as on Student Life, a popular Facebook forum among the university's students. It had 103 valid responses, 16 percent of the student body at that time.
The survey established that students were largely satisfied with the Core Curriculum. Yet it also identified concerns such as the lack of courses geared toward quantitative reasoning and the large variation in the quality of courses. RCAD representatives also proposed solutions to some of the Core’s shortcomings. The survey findings and RCAD’s notes were brought to the attention of the current Core Curriculum Committee.

Spring 2015

On Feb. 8, the General Assembly voted to include the following aspects in Student Government’s proposal of changes to the Core:
  1. To merge the Art, Technology and Invention and Pathways of World Literature core tracks.
  2. To reduce the total number of mandatory courses to six, two from each of the newly proposed tracks.
  3. To make it a requirement that one arts and one literature course are taken from the new combined Arts track.
  4. To redefine the following terms: international and cross-cultural.
The idea of allowing introductory-level classes to be taken as Core courses was discussed as an amendment but did not pass.
During the GA of Feb. 22, Assistant Vice Chancellor Hilary Ballon endorsed the suggestion of merging the ATI and Pathways Core tracks.
Also in February, Professor Cyrus Patell presented his proposal for a reform of the Core Curriculum on Electra Street, the university’s arts and humanities journal. In the proposal, Patell stressed the need for understanding the Core as a curriculum. Individual courses in the Core should not be held accountable for achieving all of the Curriculum’s objectives. Rather, the Core should be understood as a set of courses that work well together in achieving the Curriculum’s goals.
According to this view, Patell divided Core courses into two groups of four. The first would be carefully developed and curated by the university’s CCC and grapple with “profound and enduring questions.” The second would seek to develop skills the CCC deemed essential for undergraduate education. This group would be drawn from the divisions or taken in other global network sites, while the former would be at the heart of the NYUAD academic experience and would not have equivalencies in other sites.

Summer 2015

Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Bryan Waterman was appointed Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development and was tasked with chairing the CCC.
The CCC brings together faculty members who together represent all tracks of the Core and includes two student representatives: seniors Soichiro Hattori and Layan Abu-Yassin. Each member listed below is assigned to an individual section of the Core or are representatives of other committees. As of publication, CCC members, and their corresponding sections of the Core or committees, are:
Assistant Professor of Philosophy Matthew Silverstein; member-at-large Assistant Professor of Engineering Douglas Cook; Art, Technology and Invention Assistant Professor of Literature Katherine Williams; Pathways to World Literature Assistant Professor of Political Science Adam Ramey; Structures of Thought and Society Director of the Writing Program Marion Wrenn; Writing Program Program Head of Literature Deborah Williams; Undergraduate Curriculum Committee Professor of Biology Justin Blau; Experimental Discovery in the Natural World Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Michail Maniatakos; Faculty Council Steering Committee Assistant Professor of History Lauren Minsky; Science, Society and History Vice Provost for Academic Administration Charles Grim.
Waterman appointed Cook and Blau to replace Head of Computer Science Godfried Toussaint and Assistant Professor of Practice in Biology Mazin Mazgoub, both of whom asked to step down from the CCC.

Fall 2015

The CCC met for the first time on Sept. 3.
On Sept. 20, Bryan Waterman held a Hack the Core workshop for students to draft and vote on proposals to reform the Core Curriculum. In groups, the attendants proposed alternatives to the current Core. The two winning proposals from the workshop advocated for a different view on curriculum changes.
On Oct. 18 the CCC released a draft proposal for the revision of the NYUAD Core Curriculum. In order to achieve the Curriculum’s goals, the Committee proposed dividing the Core into two categories, each addressing a particular set of objectives.
The first consists of three colloquia courses that would help students grapple with “profound and enduring questions about the human condition, society and the natural world.” These would have a strong interdisciplinary component and be writing intensive. The second component consists of four breadth requirements in the following areas: Art, Design and Invention; Cultural Analysis; Data and Discovery; Structures of Thought and Society. Of these four courses, at least one has to satisfy a Quantitative Reasoning and an Experimental Reasoning requirement. The proposal also “endorsed the implementation of a universal First Year Writing Seminar.”
On Oct. 27, Bryan Waterman, Marion Wrenn, Soichiro Hattori and Layan Abu-Yassin hosted a Town Hall for students to discuss the draft proposal for changes to the Core Curriculum as well as to the Writing Program. The session was attended by about 15 students, most of them upperclassmen. The discussion centered on the attendants’ experience with the Core, as well as on people’s opinions of the colloquia and breadth requirements.
On Nov. 12, the CCC amended the draft. It reduced the colloquia requirements from three to two and introduced changes in the language of the proposal. This version of the draft has yet to be released to students.
gazelle logo