It should be the goal of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute to teach its science and engineering-oriented students to learn for themselves and to develop in them an understanding of the interplay between technological advance and human need.
A program is presented for accomplishing this goal in which projects and independent study are a major educational tool, thus providing realistic and intimate learning situations for both students and faculty. To promote an understanding of relationship to human need, many of the projects will have social significance. Courses would be offered to bring coherence to information gained in the projects, to supply techniques in specific areas as required, and to provide a transition to the unstructured program.
It is proposed that requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science be based primarily upon ability to learn rather than completion of prescribed courses. Suggested requirements are : advanced-level work on two projects, two year residence, a comprehensive examination in a particular study area, and two sufficiency examinations in areas other than that of the comprehensive.
To execute the proposed program a re-organization of the College is indicated. The academic standards and program are the responsibility of a Vice-president and an Academic Council (representing students, faculty, and administration). Student academic needs are co-ordinated with the operation through a Council of Advisors. Under the proposed unstructured curriculum, the advisor assumes a major role. He must help his students select appropriate projects and guide them to relevant courses. The actual educational functions are the responsibility of a Dean of Program Operations (responsible for the project and independent study work) and a Dean of Academic Resources.
An examination of the logistics indicates that the program can be carried out with a student/faculty ratio of 15:1. Although a significant increase in ancillary staff is required, the program appears to be financially feasible. The report also contains rough estimates of the costs of a three-year implementation program.
An area of equal importance to the academic program is that of co- ordination of community life with the academic purpose. Ten possible living arrangements and some basic questions are given, but this area awaits the thought and efforts of the students for full development.
Many details of the program remain to be worked out, requiring the efforts of the entire College. Appropriate sub-committees and their make- up are indicated.
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