Provost launches new undergraduate education taskforce

Monday, February 5, 2018 - 6:45pm

Provost Martin Philbert launched a new task force this semester to investigate the undergraduate education experience at the University of Michigan. The “Task Force on a Michigan Undergraduate Education in the Third Century,” composed of 11 professors, one lecturer and two student representatives, all from a wide variety of departments and schools, will meet until June. In their meetings, held every other week, the group will look into what a University education looks like now and what it might look like in the future.

Philbert started the task force to examine the ways the University can alter its approach to the undergraduate education as it moves into its third century.

“For the last 200 years, the University of Michigan has prepared undergraduates to be leaders and public servants in society,” Philbert said. “As the University embarks on its third century amid a rapidly changing landscape in higher education, we must seek to understand how we deliver this vital service and how we might shape instruction and the undergraduate experience for the future.”

Some of the topics the group will focus on include figuring out what makes a University of Michigan education distinctive, examining how shared goals impact teaching and considering the role of the University in preparing the next generation of citizens and professionals. They will eventually create a preliminary report with next steps for the Provost.  

Anne Curzan, associate dean for the humanities and co-chair of the task force, said in a University press release the group will also grapple with the role the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan plays in an undergraduate education.

“I think as part of that mission we're really interested in thinking about what we know about how people learn and the extent to which we want students to be thinking about how they learn,” Curzan said. "We also would like to think hard about what it means when you take the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion and put them at the center of undergraduate education at the University of Michigan.”

Engineering senior Kevin Jiang, one of the two students on the task force, thinks creating a vision for the future of education at the University will be the group’s most important job. While working with such an accomplished group of professors is a little intimidating to Jiang, he’s excited to get to work.

“I’m a really big visioning person,” Jiang said. “I think visioning is super important to guide any organization forward. So I think this task force is really setting the vision for how education is going to look at the University of Michigan.”