Faculty collects responses to focal studies

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Focal studies has been a hot topic on campus year-round and has the center of much debate. This year one thing that can’t be said is that Pacific’s administration is unaware of the controversy.

“The administration is aware that the focal studies program doesn’t have a huge fan base,” said Social Work Professor Don Schweitzer.

Schweitzer is in charge of the focal studies survey that has been released via email over the past couple weeks by the Assessment and Accreditation Committee, or AAC, which Schweitzer chairs.

Though the survey isn’t over just yet, Schweitzer and his team have begun looking over the results. He estimates that approximately four or five hundred students have responded to the survey. He encourages

students who have not already filled out the survey to do so.

“We want to make the best informed decision we possibly can,” he said.

Among the considerations are why they require two focal studies instead of just one and if the program significantly improved upon the core checklist that was policy before the program’s implementation?

The topic of focal studies also came up on May 2, during the annual curriculum conference. Students who attended raised concerns that focal studies had differing impacts on science and art students. Science students often require a much greater amount of credits for their major than art students, leaving many to feel the program unfairly hurts science majors in particular.

Once the data is collected, the AAC will write up an analysis of the program based on the information the students have given. This will then be handed out to faculty for their input. Schweitzer thinks that this

process should include the students as well.
One idea considered at the curriculum conference was eliminating one of the two focal studies while writing a policy against “double dipping.” Forbidding double dipping would mean that classes taken for a focal study would not be able to be used for other

Another idea tossed around is creating one’s

own focal study, rather than simply forcing students to choose one of the predetermined choices. This would be styled after the “create-your-own-major” policy that some students at Pacific have taken.

Though he believes strongly in the values that interdisciplinary studies provides, Schweitzer said he remains committed to sifting through the results with an open mind, determining whether the program can be successfully reformed or whether it should be replaced completely with something else.

“Nobody wants a model for interdisciplinary studies that doesn’t work,” he said


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