Senate Forum on Course Modalities


Join us on Friday, April 28th at 3pm by Zoom!
Email for more information

This forum is intended to provide members of the UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate an opportunity to discuss modalities of instruction and program governance. This forum is envisioned as part of an ongoing discussion, where all faculty (including department, program, and Senate committee leaders) can talk about the current states of our varied curricula, and how they may change in the future. Resources including space, funding, student preferences, and instructor and teaching assistant availability (to name a few) are all important drivers of curricular planning, but it is our intention to focus during the forum on high-level topics to (a) help develop a common vision for use of different teaching modalities at UCSC, and (b) understand the roles of the Senate in managing teaching modalities as part of oversight of courses and degrees. The campus is rich with expertise in pedagogy and novel ways of using technology. Future events will focus on these issues and we intend them to draw from a broader base of participation including administrative partners.

  • What is the Senate's vision for high-quality teaching across a broad range of disciplines and levels at UCSC?
    • What is the role of the Senate in helping to achieve this vision?
  • A big part of modality discussions to date has been maintenance of equality between in person and online courses. Should that be challenged?
  • To what extent should programs be encouraged to incorporate alternatives to in-person modalities in their curricula?
    • What curricular flexibility is possible while maintaining UC quality?
    • For programs that have embraced multiple modalities – should there be a trigger point at which there is additional programmatic review?
  • The course modalities a student enrolls in may be dictated by the schedule of classes and their personal preferences/learning style.
    • What proportion of a student’s major/degree courses can be online?
  • Support for Programs
    • What resources are needed by programs and faculty to accomplish goals in offering a mixed-modality curriculum? How does this match with what is available?
    • What infrastructure assistance do individual programs need?
  • Can/should UC Santa Cruz create additional flexibility by generating more modes of curricular modalities like some other campuses (e.g. SJSU 9 modes)?

The last three years have resulted in many of us reconsidering how we teach and engage students.  Emergencies including pandemics, wildfire, and storms have required that we make rapid changes and innovate, both within individual courses and for degree programs. As we move forward, however, we need to have larger and more philosophical conversations about the multiple instructional modalities on which our disciplines rely, including but not limited to: in person, labs, field, global seminars, hybrid synchronous and asynchronous, and online. This conversation, and the concerns and feedback raised by our colleagues, will guide Senate oversight of course modalities and curricular planning.

This forum will combine overviews and background information (provided in the form of “flash talks” by Senate committee members), and will be followed by open discussion. This work will benefit from broad participation and multiple perspectives. We hope you will attend and participate, bringing a wide range of questions, concerns, and ideas.

Moderators:  Elizabeth Abrams (Writing Program)
                     Andy Fisher (Earth and Planetary Sciences)
Flash Talks:  David Cuthbert, CEP Chair (Performance, Play and Design)
                     David Harrison, CCI Chair (Computer Science and Engineering)

Welcome by Moderators   (3:00pm)
  • Framing of the discussion
  • Format of the forum
‘Flash Talks’                        (3:10pm)
  1. governance: who has decision making authority about course and program modality
  2. explanation of currently available modalities
  3. a high level review of how online courses (and UG degrees) have been discussed systemwide and on our campus
  4. current state of course approval at UCSC
  5. motivation and preferences of students, TAs, and instructors
Q&A re: Flash Talks           (3:20pm)
Open Forum                        (3:40pm)