Humanities restructure announced

New-La-Trobe-Image-StandardFaculty Dean, Professor Tim Murray, says the restructure and a new Bachelor of Arts degree will have a positive effect, widening choice for students and increasing their capacity to understand and contribute to contemporary social issues.

It will also enhance student skills that are in high demand from employers in a rapidly changing world and boost the Faculty’s research capacity, making it more attractive to postgraduate students keen to understand and help solve key domestic and international problems.

Professor Murray says ‘constructive and focused student and staff feedback’ during a consultation process of about six weeks has been ‘very helpful and appreciated’.

‘As a consequence, the Bachelor of Arts degree, offering more than 400 subjects in any one year and up to 560 subjects over a two year cycle, will be completely rebuilt. In line with the rest of La Trobe University, it will require 360 credit points to complete.

‘A major will consist of 120 credit points therefore it will be possible for Bachelor of Arts students to do three majors and broaden the scope of their studies.

‘A new interdisciplinary major will also provide greater opportunities for collaborative teaching within and across Faculties.’

Professor Murray paid tribute to those staff, student, alumni and community members who put in submissions during the consultation phase.

‘Cogent arguments allowed us to better understand the needs of students and has led to the reconsideration of a number of our initial proposals.

‘As a result, La Trobe University’s ground-breaking new Bachelor of Arts degree will continue to offer Indonesian language and linguistics, as well as art history and gender studies.’

Professor Murray says linguistics will remain as a minor and Indonesian will continue following a compelling case made by students and staff – and as an acknowledgement of the strategic importance of Asian languages.

‘Art History subjects will continue to be taught and will be fully integrated into the restructured History Department.

‘The University will retain its commitment to Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies with the subject continuing to be taught through the new Department of Politics, Philosophy and Legal Studies.

‘Religion and Spirituality, currently taught at the Bendigo campus, will no longer be offered and students engaged in postgraduate research will be taught out.’

All students have received guarantees that any subjects and courses they have begun will continue to be available for them for their normal duration.

However, the range of majors in the BA will be increased at Bendigo with the introduction of unique majors in visual arts, graphic design, strategic and professional communication, and planning and community development.

The new interdisciplinary majors will also be available in Bendigo and the Faculty is committed to supporting the teaching of Bendigo-based subjects into the BA.

Apart from curriculum change, the restructure means that administratively the Faculty will be consolidated into two Schools – the School of Humanities, and the School of Social Sciences and Communications.

Each will have three Departments. Previously the administrative divisions comprised three Schools and 21 Programs.

The change process will result in a reduction of up to 37 staff by the end of this year and approximately four positions by the end of 2015.

In June, La Trobe University instigated a detailed and intensive consultation period with staff, students and community input from across all metropolitan and regional campuses.

The aim was to inform curriculum renewal and administrative review designed to meet changes in student demand, community expectation and financial imperatives necessary for future growth in Australia’s rapidly changing higher education environment.

‘The University will continue to support the Faculty during this transition, confident these changes will address the budget shortfall and rejuvenate research and teaching strengths in the Humanities,’ says Professor Murray.

‘The goal is to return La Trobe to the top 100 universities in the world for Humanities and Social Sciences in the not too distant future.  We are exceptionally well-placed to achieve this’.

Professor Murray says he is confident that the renewed Faculty will continue to provide an extremely high-level of educational opportunity and choice and will align with, and better support the new curriculum, enhancing opportunities for inter-disciplinary learning and research collaboration.

The curriculum changes take effect for new enrolments from the start of next year, and will not affect study programs of existing students.

The administrative arrangements will be implemented this year. Affected staff will be able to nominate for a position in the new structure or for voluntary redundancy. Support is being made available to them through an Employee Assistance Program.


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Ernest Raetz:

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