The School of Foreign Service School Council – chaired by Dean Carol Lancaster and composed of faculty, administrators and students – has accepted the second of two SFS Academic Council proposals concerning the revised Map of the Modern World curriculum.
The SFS Academic Council, composed of nine elected undergraduate student representatives, conducted a study analyzing the difference between the former and the revised curriculum and sought the input of over 100 alumni, students and professors, according to Josh Mogil (SFS ’11), vice president of the Academic Council.
“We presented our research and made recommendations off of it,” Mogil said. “The School Council was pleased to see students taking the initiative in their own education.”
ogil, the principal author of the Academic Council’s Map Status Report, said that the School Council supported the formation of a panel tasked to review the course and the recent changes to its curriculum.
According to Senior Associate Dean James Reardon-Anderson, who will teach the revised course, there are many similarities between the course that will be introduced in the spring semester and its predecessors: Students will receive one credit for successful completion of the course and will attend a once-weekly 50-minute lecture; the grading system for the course will be pass/fail, based on a 100-question multiple-choice exam; and the course’s curriculum will center on contemporary and historical political geography.
The updated course will include course content related to physical geography’s effect on human behavior in each region of the world, according to Reardon-Anderson. Exam questions related to North America, Western Europe, Russia, China and Northeast Asia, regions that have been excluded from the final exam in the past, will be included as well.
The exam will be similar to the exemption test given in October, with a few updates.
“I am currently updating the course, as I have done each of the past four years I have taught it [at SFS-Qatar],” Reardon-Anderson said. “Additional material will be added on current event cases and will be included in the exam.”
Despite Reardon-Anderson’s reassurances, some students remain unhappy with the changes and [the relatively high passing rate on the exemption exam](https://www.thehoya.com/news/map-exemption-rate-soars-adding-debate/).
“Perhaps by consulting with students, [Reardon-Anderson’s] expectations of their basic knowledge would have been higher and the exemption rate wouldn’t have skyrocketed to an outrageous 20 percent,” said Tom Zuzelo (SFS ‘ 11), a teaching assistant for the course last year. “If students and faculty were included in the process, it may have been possible to enhance and build upon the existing course.”
“The Map course is something I looked forward to,” Michael Fischer (SFS ‘ 13) said. “While I appreciate the intentions behind the changes, I feel these issues would be in a separate class.”
The Academic Council recognizes that there is still room for improvement, but is pleased with the compromises it has put forth.
“In a school as demanding as the SFS, students must be introduced to a multidisciplinary worldview about all of the forces shaping the world around us. Anything less will not effectively support students in their studies … Everyone deserves a seat at the table to offer advice; our decisions will have an impact on the SFS for years to come,” the Map Status Report stated.
The Academic Council will advise Reardon-Anderson in the selection of a group of students, including teaching assistants, who will review and oversee the course’s progress throughout the spring semester.
“We are glad that we were able to effectively represent the masses of students protesting the initial curriculum change, and the process of that change,” Mogil said. “We hope that in the future, the SFS administration will be open to discussions and reviews before it makes an important alteration in the education of its students.” “