Dear Fellow Swatties,
Thank you for considering my candidacy for Educational Policy Representative!
A few quick words about me: I’m a sophomore from New York City and a prospective Biology/Environmental Studies major. I’m a co-facilitator of Earthlust, and I love playing the violin in Swat’s orchestra and chamber music ensembles. I am currently leading a student-run effort to revise and expand the Environmental Studies Program to hire tenure-track ENVS professors and offer our first-ever ENVS major. We’ve talked with other students, presented to the ENVS faculty committee, and look forward to meeting with President Chopp and Provost Stephenson next week.
Like many of us, I was drawn to Swarthmore because of its unparalleled commitment to applying academics toward social change. Our community of students, staff and faculty prides itself in responding to our most pressing issues of global injustice and in being at the forefront of critically rethinking established paradigms. From our vibrant group of activist student clubs to the Lang Center’s community-based learning courses, Swarthmore has in some ways already succeeded in realizing this creative vision. We must highlight these strengths and ensure their continued vitality.
But Swarthmore lags critically behind our peer institutions in probing and reassessing the old barriers wedged between traditional academic disciplines. While we have a solid array of interdisciplinary “programs,” few offer a major and virtually none possess the authority to hire tenure-track faculty. Most programs cannot offer a regular suite of courses because participating professors’ primarily responsibility is to support their disciplinary home department.
As Educational Policy Representative, my first priority will be to work with students, faculty, and the administration toward abandoning our antiquated exclusive emphasis on traditional, disciplinary “departments.” In addition to ensuring that our traditional departments receive the resources they need to continue their record of excellence, we must breathe new life, autonomy and authority into our most innovative, cross-disciplinary programs, from Gender and Sexuality to Peace and Conflict Studies. This means revising the definition of a “program” to include the full tenure-track hiring authority of a “department,” generating new cross-listed courses, sharing resources between and across programs and departments, and amplifying opportunities for fieldwork, community action, and extra-Swarthmore collaboration. Traditional departments like Chemistry, Economics, History, and Philosophy will only gain from the wealth of new courses and perspectives ushered in by these steps.
I believe that amidst all the complexity of the 21st century, there is nothing more crucial than synthesizing discourse across disciplines and applying new ideas toward creating solutions for real-world problems. I hope you will join me in pushing Swarthmore to embrace this approach through immediate curricular action.
Thank you so much,
Ben Goloff ‘15
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