Response to Proposed UG Curriculum Guidelines

Posted on November 20, 2013

Response to Proposed Undergraduate Curriculum Guidelines [2-page PDF]
Approved by the Senate on November 19, 2013

The Academic Senate welcomes the opportunity to review and comment on the Administration’s proposed Undergraduate Curriculum Guidelines (“Proposed Guidelines”). We thank all faculty, staff and administrators who took part in this collaborative and unprecedented Institute-wide dialogue.

During a six week period, the Senate engaged the community in discussion of the proposal, collecting comments via website and email, and holding open, all-Institute meetings that included formal committee reviews and roundtables with the President, Provost, Deans, and other key administrators. In light of the wide interest and potential for further discussion, the Senate looks forward to continued conversations.

The Proposed Guidelines put forward changes affecting all undergraduate programs in the School of Art & Design, and suggest revisions to curricula, credit-hour structure, and class scheduling. We note the proposal also affects terms of faculty and staff employment, matters within Union purview.

The Senate supports the proposal’s stated goals toward a professional, broad, interdisciplinary, and flexible education. However, we note that many faculty members expressed strong reservations about the Proposed Guidelines and their potential effect on educational quality. While faculty concerns are varied and diverse, we here outline three broad themes that emerged from the discussions.

1. Flexibility for Departments

The Proposed Guidelines are silent on whether changes such as credit-hour structure are mandatory or how variations may be approved. In all-Institute meetings, the Provost explained that individual department curriculum committees would, in some cases, need to adjust the Proposed Guidelines to suit their educational goals. Faculty representatives on these committees are in the best position to make informed decisions about their departments. Given the crucial role of curriculum committees in the future of Pratt, the Senate and the Union are drafting a joint statement to recognize and support the work of these committees.

2. Strengthening the Shared Vision of the Pratt Studio Model

Faculty members have voiced concern that many proposed changes threaten the essential nature of the studio education on which Pratt’s historic reputation stands. Our immersive studio model, complemented by courses in liberal arts and sciences, has benefited generations of committed, talented art and design students seeking hands-on learning to prepare for creative, productive lives. Long studio sessions reflect the pace of real-world professional practice and afford time and space for risk-taking and innovation. Studio learning cultivates the capacity for critique, builds an ethos of commitment, and instills confidence and resilience. In discussion and in over 200 written comments, constituents elaborated on these values.

3. Commitment to the Evolution of Educational Quality

Faculty support innovation that strengthens the Pratt studio model. To insure the quality of education, the process of curriculum change must include strong faculty representation at every level, and regular consultation with support staff and administration. Particularly in any systemic transition, proposals and decisions must be communicated through clear and transparent channels, with ample time for open feedback and with documentation of the educational rationale for change. The Proposed Guidelines were not themselves developed through a fully transparent process. Faculty comments indicate this far-reaching plan was not widely known prior to the Senate’s outreach. Faculty asked to see the committee findings said to have led to this proposal, or to see other educational rationale for these suggestions.


For the Provost’s consideration, we attach documentation received during the Senate’s six-week review process, including the Report to the Senate of the APPC review, and over 200 web-based comments. These records represent the diversity of views among our constituents and raise important questions for consideration throughout Pratt’s process of change and innovation.

On behalf of the faculty and teaching staff of Pratt Institute,

The Academic Senate


I. Analysis and Vizualization of the Comment Data, 1 page PDF
II. APPC Report to the Senate, 19 page PDF
III. Faculty Response via the Comment Website:

IV. Academic Senate Review Process, 2 page PDF