The Advent Of the Hewlett Courses

by Donna Budd

The campus has been awarded a grant by the Hewlett Foundation to support the development of a new set of courses to be taught jointly by faculty in the College of Letters and Science and the professional schools and colleges.

Over the next two years, about 10 of these Hewlett Foundation Courses in General Education will be developed by a team of two professors each from Letters and Science and the professional schools or colleges.

"The goal is to establish a new kind of interdisciplinary undergraduate course that fulfills at least one breadth requirement and takes advantage of both academic and professional methods to investigate a problem in professional practice," said Carolyn Porter, dean of Undergraduate Education who administers the Hewlett grant through Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies.

In each of these courses, students and faculty would apply the methodology of a Letters and Science discipline to a practical problem posed in one of the professional fields.

For instance, Molecular and Cell Biology could join with the School of Public Health in mounting a course on the topic of the control of infectious diseases.

"The Neural Basis of Thought and Language," taught this coming spring by professors George Lakoff of linguistics and Jerome Feldman of computer science, launches the series of undergraduate courses.

The Hewlett courses are meant to serve students in several ways.

"Each course will offer the opportunity to undergraduates in various fields to fulfill a breadth requirement while acquiring interdisciplinary insight directly relevant to their programs and interests," said Porter.

"Students will also profit from the creative collaboration of colleagues from a variety of colleges and schools to produce a new kind of course, freshly conceived and specifically designed for undergraduates. The energy and imagination that goes into each course assures the highest quality."

The hands-on course taught by Feldman and Lakoff, subject to final approval from the Academic Senate, is designed to be useful to students in many disciplines.

It will investigate the neural systems and neural structures of the human brain in relation to the nature and production of thought and language.

The Hewlett grants also give faculty the opportunity to work with colleagues from other fields and the chance to explore their own fields in a different way and within a different format.

Since the unit of each professor who is awarded this grant must agree to offer the Hewlett course on a continuing basis, this core group of exceptional courses will continue to be available for undergraduates after the close of the two-year grant period.

For information on the Hewlett courses, call 642-5640 or e-mail



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