Sustainability GER proposal may move forward

April 19, 2010, 1:03 a.m.

The Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policies met April 9 to discuss a proposal by students to have “Sustainable Citizenship” added as a fifth option to fulfill the Education for Citizenship (EC) General Education Requirement.

The committee has not made an official recommendation to the Faculty Senate, but Philippe Buc, a history professor and chair of the committee (C-USP), shared his thoughts on the proposal, saying that while the proposal contains a few details that could be changed or modified, it made a strong argument and merits further discussion in the Faculty Senate.

“In our opinion, the proposal is clear, forceful and articulate enough to be considered as is by the Senate,” Buc said in an e-mail to The Daily.

He added that the proposal “needs to be taken seriously and fully discussed.”

According to Buc, another possibility for the sustainability proposal is to integrate it into the “Global Community” EC requirement.

“We felt there was room for debate, especially insofar as the relationship between the potential Sustainable Civilization option to the Global Citizenship option,” Buc said. “As a result of that slight discussion within the committee, we didn’t say we’re going to endorse it. We said we liked it as a proposal…it’s a proposal we think the faculty should discuss.”

The proposal submitted by students argued that currently, sustainability education is largely absent from the body of courses intended to provide Stanford students with knowledge necessary to act as citizens in today’s world. With issues of sustainability, resource allocation and the environment becoming increasingly salient, some students want these issues to be given more attention in the Stanford curriculum.

The description of the “Global Community” requirement in the Stanford bulletin says classes in that area “address the problems of the emerging global situation,” including economic development, health and “environmental exploitation and preservation.”

Modification of academic policies like these is a long process, but Buc cited a few possible directions the initiative could take from here.

“Likely outcomes are, short of an outright rejection, adoption–with likely tinkering of the definition–as the fifth option within the GC GER, or redefinition of the Global Citizenship option of the GC GER to include considerations of sustainability,” he said.

C-USP plans to meet on Friday to formally vote on whether or not the proposal will be sent to the Faculty Senate for discussion.

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