Study of Yale College Recommends Changes in Requirements and Support

A committee performing the first comprehensive review of Yale College in 30 years has recommended changes to enhance instruction in writing, quantitative reasoning, science, art and language and to support study abroad.

The Committee on Yale College Education, appointed by President Richard C. Levin during the University’s 300th anniversary and chaired by Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead, was made up of faculty, undergraduates and recent graduates.

“These changes, taken together, would dramatically improve the quality of Yale undergraduate education,” the committee said of its recommendations. “Many recommendations address problems that have emerged over the past several decades, some uniquely at Yale, some in American higher education at large. Others look forward, attempting to anticipate the intellectual resources students will need in the complex future world.”

The committee recommended that undergraduates be required to take two courses related to the development of writing skills and two courses that strengthen skills in quantitative reasoning and analysis, in addition to other required study. The committee called for new academic centers to support the writing and quantitative reasoning requirements.

In science education, the committee recommended improvements in laboratory courses, expansion of scientific research opportunities for undergraduates, and more opportunities for freshmen to have close contact with science and engineering faculty. The committee also urged the development of new science courses for non-majors that provide greater challenge and reward. The committee said a new science center should be established to support these initiatives. The recommendations in science education come at a time when Yale is in the midst of a $1 billion investment in its science, engineering and medical facilities and programs.

The committee also recommended that students perform some language study regardless of their proficiency in a foreign language when they enter Yale. Students should also incorporate an international experience in their Yale studies, either during the school year or in the summer, the committee said, and financial aid support for study abroad should be provided to students who need it.

Drawing on the resources of its professional schools of art, architecture, music and drama, Yale should ensure that the arts are in the mainstream of a liberal arts education, the committee said. It recommended that training in artistic creation be a priority, and that Yale recruit artists among its arts faculty.

The committee also recommended taking greater advantage of the University’s professional school faculty in undergraduate education, and providing more small classes for freshmen and sophomores.

“I am grateful to Dean Brodhead and everyone who served on the committee for their comprehensive review of Yale College and their thoughtful recommendations to improve undergraduate education,” Levin said. “I encourage everyone at Yale to study this timely report and join in what I know will be a thought-provoking discussion of its significant proposals and priorities.”

The committee will receive comment on the report for a month, and the report will also be the subject of meetings of Yale faculty and students.

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Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345