[MathSoc Council] Breadth & Depth Requirements

Matthew McPherrin mimcpher at uwaterloo.ca
Sat Feb 11 13:57:34 EST 2012


I've changed my mind on breadth since I started.

Initially, I was somewhat irritated at having to take classes outside my
narrow little world, but now I'm rather glad I did.
Then I actually took the classes, and I'm glad I did.

The requirements aren't much, and are fairly easy to fill. I did PHYS 121,
SCI 206, ENGL 2??, PHIL 145, Psych 101, psych 207,  (psych 3xx to fill
depth).

I'd like to think that the university is still about producing educated
members of society, and not about job training (whether that be for
industry, or for training for later academia).

Breadth feels, to me, like an important part of that.  At very most, I'd
suggest for reducing the breadth requirements to 0.5 units where they are
currently 1.0.

On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 1:14 PM, Brook Jensen <brwarner2 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm pro depth, anti-breath. Most students for breath just end up taking
> courses they have absolutely no interest in, and therefore learn nothing.
> It's simply filling up the lectures with people who don't want to be there,
> wasting their time and money, and also that of the teacher. I'm pretty sure
> we can't expect students in this position of taking a course purely because
> they're told to, to actually remember any of the content and therefore
> obtain the "breath" that the courses supposedly offer.
> --
> Your Friendly Neighbourhood Computer Scientist,
> Brook Jensen
>
>
> On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM, Sean Hunt <scshunt at csclub.uwaterloo.ca>wrote:
>
>> Hey Council,
>>
>> There has been some discussion recently in CS about the purpose of or
>> suitability of breadth and depth requirements.
>>
>> For those of you who don't know, breadth and depth requirements are
>> additional rules that apply to CS students (honours and joint honours)
>> with regards to their non-math courses, and date back to the creation
>> of the BCS back in 2002/3. The requirements are:
>>
>>
>> The 5.0 non-math units must either be used to satisfy requirements for
>> a minor or a joint honours plan outside the Faculty of Mathematics, or
>> must satisfy the following elective breadth and depth requirements.
>> (Alternate plans must be approved by a CS advisor.)
>>
>> Elective breadth requirements
>>
>>    1.0 units from the humanities (subjects from ARTS, CHINA, CLAS,
>> CMW, CROAT, DAC, DRAMA, DUTCH, EASIA, ENGL, FINE, FR, GER, GRK, HIST,
>> HUMSC, ITAL, ITALST, JAPAN, JS, KOREA, LAT, MUSIC, PHIL, POLSH, PORT,
>> REES, RS, RUSS, SPAN, SPCOM, UKRAN)
>>
>>    1.0 units from the social sciences (subjects from AFM, ANTH,
>> APPLS, BUS, ECON, GEOG, HRM, INTST, INTTS, ISS, LS, MSCI, NATST, PACS,
>> PSCI, PSYCH, REC, SMF, SOC, SOCWK, SPD, STV, WS)
>>
>>    0.5 units from the pure sciences (subjects from BIOL, CHEM, EARTH,
>> PHYS, SCI)
>>
>>    0.5 units from the pure and applied sciences (subjects from pure
>> sciences plus ARCH, ENVS, ERS, GERON, HLTH, KIN, PLAN)
>>    Note: No course can be used to satisfy more than one of the above
>> requirements.
>>
>> Elective depth requirements
>>
>>    1.5 units with the same subject, including at least 0.5 units at
>> third-year level or higher
>>    or
>>    1.5 units with the same subject forming a prerequisite chain of
>> length three
>>
>>
>> The first obvious issue is that of a minor. While it is extremely
>> difficult, if not impossible, to satisfy the requirements of a minor
>> without also fulfilling the elective depth requirements, it also is
>> often impossible to satisfy the elective breadth requirements without
>> taking more than 10 non-math courses. This is why the minor exemption
>> exists, but some professors who are in favor of the breadth
>> requirements do not feel that it is warranted, especially for students
>> taking a BCS + a minor.
>>
>> The questions raised here are about the purposes of the breadth and
>> depth requirements, and what use they serve.
>>
>> My personal opinion is that we should primarily encourage students to
>> obtain depth of knowledge in a field outside of mathematics, rather
>> than just take X 101 for 10 different values of X. As a result, I
>> think that the depth requirement is valuable---and potentially worth
>> adding to other major plans (note that students in most Math/Business
>> programs as well as Mathematical Physics, the most stringent and
>> complex of our programs, would satisfy these requirements
>> automatically). At the same time, I do not see the value of telling
>> students that they cannot focus their knowledge in another non-math
>> area, so I would personally advocate removal of the breadth
>> requirement.
>>
>> I am, however, interested in what others have to say, both the CS
>> students and the other students. What do you guys think?
>>
>> Sean
>>
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>>
>
>
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