Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Hello! My name is Lisa Bao and I am interested in becoming your Educational Policy Representative for 2011-12. I’m a prospective Linguistics major in the Class of 2014, and I work at the McCabe reference desk–come ask me a question about library research or printer malfunctions!
Since arriving at Swarthmore, I’ve been increasingly fascinated by the administrative decisions that shape our academic experiences. I had the opportunity to read the College’s 2009 reaccreditation self-study, which was surprisingly transparent, spurring me to participate in College governance. In the process, I discovered a new affinity for the intricate balance of priorities between Swarthmore’s expansive curriculum and the diverse individual community members that make it happen.
As a student representative on Working Group 2 (WG2): “Knowledge, Teaching, and Learning,” of Strategic Planning, I’ve gathered feedback from my fellow students–you!–in both formal and informal ways. The committee is charged to design an academic program addressing knowledge in the 21st century, preparing citizens to contribute to a global society, and teaching students who span a range of diverse experiences and identities.
Many times I have met with students individually to discuss specific concerns, and either directed them to the appropriate working group or addressed the issue during my own weekly committee meeting. I’ve represented the student body in this capacity by:
- Participating on the panel of WG2’s two Fireside Chats, Q&A-style; meetings open to the entire College community. After both discussions, I stayed behind to answer individual questions, and continued the conversation with interested students in my dorm.
- Meeting with the IC/BCC communities as an informal liaison with regard to their goals for course and faculty diversity. I am also a member of Swarthmore Asian Organization (SAO), presently as a First-Year Intern.
- Contributing research on peer institutions to WG2, such as different structural models to support interdisciplinary programs, honors, and independent research. In the Pedagogy subgroup, I was responsible for writing the interdisciplinarity section of our report to the whole committee.
- Forming a new subgroup of WG2, on “mapping the curriculum,” at the behest of Will Treece ’11 and myself, both of us student representatives on the committee. The subgroup will discuss long-term needs in scaffolding of curricular knowledge and integrate existing improvements already underway on a “Course Catalog 2.0” by the Registrar’s office.
However, I also wish to serve immediate student needs through concrete measures that will not conflict with the Strategic Planning process. My specific goals as Educational Policy Representative include:
- Presenting existing information in an organized format to students, such as a list of courses offered without prerequisite in the natural sciences division, or courses with content relating to Ethnic Studies.
- Centralizing faculty course syllabi. This idea had been discussed and tabled a few years ago, due to concerns about copyright, but I remain hopeful that a mutually beneficial compromise can be reached between students and faculty.
- Restructuring the Tri-Co Summer Institute for Diversity, which has been disbanded (without student input) into a Swarthmore-only program for Fall 2011. I attended Tri-Co myself last summer and found it an empowering space for all interested first-year students, regardless of their college or cultural identity, to come together in educational dialogue.
Through Strategic Planning, I have gained invaluable experience with the inner workings of Swarthmore-specific educational policies. I am ready to take one step down from visionary planning to the long-term but concrete decisions made through consensus by the Council on Educational Policy and the Curriculum Committee–two important College administrative committees which include the Educational Policy Representative–as well as, of course, to full participation in the resolutions and goals of Student Council as an independent body.
Thank you for your time in reading this (lengthy) platform! I am always open to new ideas and feedback on current, emerging, or continuing initiatives. Please contact me with any questions, thoughts, or concerns at email@example.com. I hope to have your vote for Educational Policy Representative!