Faculty Senate discusses issues with ILC class availability

Updated: Apr 22

ILCs may soon be restructured to better suit the needs of Belmont students.

“Clearly there needs to be changes. It’s a bottleneck for students trying to get through their gen-ed requirements because there’s not enough available ILCs and it gets postponed,” said music business professor Dr. Clyde Rolston, a senate representative from Curb College.

Interdisciplinary Learning Communities link two classes which are taught concurrently and required for all Belmont University students. And while faculty senators on Monday agreed ILCs are a great concept to show the interconnectedness of disciplines, an unwillingness of professors to teach ILCs has led to advising and scheduling issues.

During Monday’s faculty senate meeting, Dr. Marnie Vanden Noven, the director of the university’s BELL Core general education, gave a presentation about the effectiveness of ILCs, which spawned the discussion of their functionality.

ILCs are meant to show students the “interdisciplinary nature of life,” said Vanden Noven, an associate professor of exercise science. Professors of two different subjects are meant to create a curriculum together which shows students the ways their academic areas interact.

And while survey data Vanden Noven presented showed these connections are being made successfully, she agreed with Rolston that there is an issue with making sure students get into the right ILC at the right time.

“Some of the biggest challenges I mentioned in there are just having the number of faculty available to teach the courses, pairing the appropriate faculty with one another in different disciplines and making those connections,” said Vanden Noven.

ILC class credits are meant to count toward either students’ gen-ed or major program, intended to expand students’ horizons in classes they may not otherwise choose to take.

When students can’t get into ILCs that apply credits they need in their course program study, they end up having to take them as free electives; if the classes do not fall in the students’ course program, financial aid would not cover them, said music business assistant professor Dr. Amy Smith, an at-large senator appointed to the Student Life Council.

Despite these issues, Vanden Noven said finding a way to make ILCs more available to students may be challenging and could take time.

In the short term, Vanden Noven said the provost is now requiring different colleges to provide a defined number of ILCs. The university is also hiring new faculty, which she said should help with class availability..

In the long term, Vanden Noven hopes conversations and feedback from faculty and students will lead to larger changes to make ILCs work better for students, she said.

“I’m hoping that we can have some great conversations next year to be able to do that by fall 2024, but like I said, we’re just starting this conversation.”

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This article was written by Connor Daryani. Contributory reporting by David Pang.

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