Frequently Asked Questions 


Implementation Questions, January, 2011

Question (bold) with response / clarification 
How can I convert electives in my major to a mission seminar?  What would the pros and cons be of converting it to a mission seminar?  What mission seminars would be suitable for particular courses? 

Mission Seminar courses are stand alone courses. They can't be both Mission Seminars and departmental courses. What they can be is Mission Seminars that stand in for departmental courses, just as MS can stand in for Ways of Thinking courses.

As Mission Seminars are developed into distinct courses with catalog numbers, those seminars can be listed among departmental options for minors. For example, Janet McLean is converting a Theatre course into a VUSM200 section. That section will become a course with a number. And that course can be offered up to theatre minors as an option so long as it's not restricted to theatre minors. No Mission Seminars can be so restricted.

Pros of converting: 

  • Guarantee of making, since MS are core curriculum requirement
  • Integration of interdisciplinarity can show major ties to other disciplines
  • Likewise, students in other majors can offer other disciplinary lens
  • Undecided students might take to the discipline and become majors


  • There won't be all minors in that course, which can limit the discourse
  • Course would have to shift to align with the SLOs off all the Mission Seminars

In the past, we talked of restricting the students in a double-counting Mission Seminar to one half of students who “need” that MS for their major. We haven’t implemented that restriction this year. How would we? Why should we? Do we solve a problem we don’t yet have in doing so? 

To measure which courses might convert to Mission Seminars, look at the MS learning outcomes, linked on the GE web page under New General Education Program, and discuss your course with the GE committee members and director.

What would the requirements be for putting oral communication and/or the sophomore-level writing requirement in the major? What would be some possible assignments/activities that could be integrated? Could we integrate it over several course? 

Alignment with the definition of that foundational skill and with the level expected, as articulated by the Foundations committees. Those committees presented versions of these definitions and levels during Jan. in-service, documents available: General Education in-service. For oral communication, there is a grounding assumption that students will present twice. That much has been established. The definition for that foundational skill is the AAC&U one:

Oral communication is a prepared, purposeful presentation designed to increase knowledge, to foster understanding, or to promote change in the listeners' attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.One way to integrate this skill is to supplement a written assignment with its oral presentation. Such supplementing would not ask students to create new content but to convert that content to a different setting,  integrative learning, one medium to another. The assumption of one credit worth of content means that oral communication must be one third of the course. And we assume too that course content is devoted to discussing principles of oral communication, providing feedback on student presentations, and helping students apply feedback to subsequent presentations.  

Could the foundational skill be integrated over several courses? It will be necessarily since these foundational skills are embedded to some degree in most majors.  That said, it won’t be measured in gen ed that way, across several courses. Each program will have to designate a course where the competency can be measured. It’s not otherwise feasible from an assessment perspective.

What would be some other options for courses (outside of the major) for the sophomore level writing requirement or the oral communication requirement? Have any interdisciplinary options been discussed? 

The BSNC program is using English 307, Argumentative Writing, to serve this need, as it is flexible enough to accomodate that population.

Discussions have included talk courses such as Writing about Science, but no such courses have been created. How would they be created? Are they necessary?

Com 150 replaces THTR 150 as the university's speech course, No interdisciplinary speech courses have been mentioned.

How could I co-teach a course with a person from another discipline (what would it be "approved" as for double counting, how does it count in loads, can it count for both of us if the class is big enough)? 

Team teaching will require consent of chairs and deans.

For team taught Mission Seminars in the fall, we upped the cap to 40, double the usual cap. At 40, the team-taught seminar counts as a full three credits for each instructor, recognizing that both instructors need to be there for each class.

How is it a seminar if there are 40 students? Good question. The very nature of what we mean by "seminar" is a lurking question. In scheduling, all MS courses are marked as "discussion" in their method. But some will include lecture necessarily. One option is to break apart the class for separate discussions (one instructor per discussion) to promote the sense of a seminar.

Where seminar caps are 20-24 and team taught, the load count is 1.5 (or an unequal split of 2 credits for one person, one credit for the other rather than 3.0 credits.)

Can I cross list a course in my department and also as a mission seminar? 

You can convert a course to a Mission Seminar. It's not a cross listing structure. As above, Mission Seminars can become options for your major once they are discrete VUSM courses in the catalog. For example, English 228, Multicultural American Literature, will be converted to a Mission Seminar and be on the spring 2012 schedule. In that conversion, ENGL228 will disappear.

Some departments could keep a given course and also run a version of that course as a Mission Seminar. But that would be two courses, not one.

How can Mission Seminars contribute to major requirements, requirements for interdisciplinary minors, etc.? 

When Mission Seminars are discrete courses, not just discrete sections, then they can be listed as meeting major requirements. So, for example, ENGL228 exits as an option for the English writing emphasis. When it's VUSM228, it can be listed as an option for that program.

When will this conversion happen? This semester, as Mission Seminars are converted via curriculum change forms.

How many sections of Mission Seminars need to be offered next year (including The Common Good and The Ethical Life) 

We had 11 sections of  VUSM100 in the fall that was enough (one had a capacity of 40, team taught). We had 7 sections of VUSM100 this spring. It wasn’t enough. We needed to add at least one, probably two sections. 

Fall, 2011 

Spring, 2012 

FVT:  12 sections
(with two team taught)
LDW: 10 sections
TCG: 2 sections
TEL: 2 sections

FVT: 9 sections
LDW: 11 sections
TCG: 3 sections
TEL: 2 sections

Transfer students will be taking The Common Good and The Ethical Life seminars next year. These year’s first-year students, who are taking Franciscan Values and Traditions now, will need to take The Common Good and The Ethical Life in time, so subsequent schedules will ramp up until we’re running about 20 sections of each Mission Seminar a year.  

How do we know if we are teaching a Mission Seminar next year if we have said we are interested? What is the process? 
Rolf has contacted everybody whose interest in teaching a Mission Seminar he knew about, based on emails and submitted Mission Seminar interest inquiry forms with the qualifier that if you expressed an interest beyond next year, he put you aside for the moment. In constructing the Mission Seminar schedule, Rolf is following these principles: 
  • Representation from as many schools as possible
  • Preference for those MS that do or could double count
  • Some new sections with some repeating ones
  • Distribution across the time slots for classes 

 Although the schedule for next year is provisionally set, it will change, as all schedules do. Rolf would also like to know of your ongoing interest in a Mission Seminar so that he can build it into future planning.


Faculty Listening Sessions, September, 2010

Structure questions (bold) and response / clarification 
How will double dipping work? 
As proposed, up to two Mission Seminars may may count as Ways of Thinking courses. The disciplinary expertise of particular MS instructors will dictate the seminar’s overlap with Ways of Thinking.
Why two different religion Ways of Thinking, and is the first Mission Seminar, Franciscan Values, a third rquired relgion course? 

Franciscan Values is not a religious studies course. As an interdisciplinary course, most of the content of each seminar will come from the field of the instructor.

The proposed structure recognized that the existing RS catalog offerings divided into those that promoted exegesis and those that connected faith to practice.

Can the Foundations be met with 8 credits? 
That number is an estimate. A student with strong incoming preparation may meet this foundation requirement with as few as one credit of information literary, a module for using the Viterbo library effectively. Students who take ENGL 103 and 104 would expect to meet Foundations with 10 credits.
How will artistic awareness work as an outcome? 
Naomi has developed a phase-in model that seemed reasonable to faculty during September listening sessions. That model is covered on the handout entitled Proposal for Phase I and Phase II: The Arts in Viterbo’s General Education Program. 
Where is mathematics as a Way of Thinking or as a GE outcome? 
Faculty feedback in May ranked a math-inclusive model (16) below two other models that omitted math (18 and 18c). Faculty feedback during August in-service was consistent with those May results.

Add as a way of thinking             15
Remove quantitative literacy       34
Leave proposal as is                     63



Questions (bold) and response / clarification 
Wiggle room: how will the Mission Seminars fit into student coursework, especially for those majors with high credit totals? 
There is less wiggle room than with the existing G9, which accommodated most GE courses and also allowed students to double dip department courses.

Some departmental specific GE requirements can change with the new GE. Multiple program learning outcomes can be met in a single course.

How will the 200-level writing courses work? 
Existing departmental courses may be modified to admit students of multiple majors. Faculty may develop new courses that bridge the skills of 100-level writing courses and the discipline-specific writing of a writing course within the major, courses such as Writing about Science.
Who will decide what courses count for what general education requirements? 
Such decisions will be made by a modified version of GEAUAP, which will solicit the relevant disciplinary expertise of faculty to ensure that courses meet standards for different ways of thinking, for example. Subcommittees for the Mission Seminars are already charged with quality control for those courses.

Many of the existing G2-G8 courses will fit sensibly into the Ways of Thinking design. GEAUAP will need to grandfather in some courses.

This fall GEAUAP will vet Franciscan Values Seminars to see which might double dip for Ways of Thinking.

What do we call our new general education program? 
We might run a student competition as for the naming of Franny’s.

We might also look at branding samples from other institutions, e.g., RISE at IUPUI.