Course Proposal Process

Where can I find out about stipends for developing Philadelphia Experience assignments?
Does a GenEd course proposal have to be interdisciplinary?
How do I begin thinking about a course proposal?
What is Information Literacy?
Who will help me develop a course proposal?
Where are the GenEd Proposal Guidelines & Course Proposal Forms?
How can I propose an Honors GenEd course?
What is the process for course approval?
PEX Passport FAQ
What does PILOTING a course entail?

Where can I find out about stipends for developing Philadelphia Experience assignments?
Please see the PEX Partnership Stipend Application.

Must there be a team proposing a GenEd course?
While there is no requirement that a team develop a proposal, courses initiated by pairs or teams demonstrate the likelihood that a course can be offered regularly. GenEd needs a high proportion of courses that can be offered regularly and on different campuses. But this does not mean that a single individual cannot develop a proposal.

Does a GenEd course proposal have to be interdisciplinary?
No. While most of the courses that have been approved are interdisciplinary in some way, there is no requirement that a course introduce students to different fields of study.

How do I begin thinking about a course proposal?
First, read the tips that follow, which give you overall guidance. Next, print out the Course Proposal Guidelines below. Reviewing those should help you decide which area of GenEd would work best for your course idea. As you begin to write the proposal, contact the relevant Area Coordinator and/or the consultants named below. They can make the process much easier!


When the Core was first developed, the focus was on content. What was the “common body of knowledge” students needed to absorb while at Temple? How exactly would we define the “cultural capital” our students would need in order to lead successful lives? In the 20 years since then, repeated empirical studies have altered what we know about how learning happens. They tell us that process is crucial–that people learn best when they are working together in a dialogic, open atmosphere to solve problems that they find compelling.

While the coverage of content is important, GenEd courses focus on cultivating in our students certain habits of mind–habits of reading, thinking, communicating, problem-solving and creating. GenEd courses develop in our students certain dispositions, tendencies toward critical reflection that will, ideally, last for years, rendering them not just successful test-takers but lifelong learners and engaged citizens.

The GenEd Executive Committee (GEEC), which reviews course proposals, will be interested not just in the material you plan to cover, but in what students will be doing with that material.

Some questions to get you started:

  • What are the most important problems/issues/questions that students will confront?
  • How am I contextualizing the content of the course? How will my students stretch across disciplinary lines, stretch from theory to application, theory to practice or experience, stretch to engage current controversies, etc.
  • How will students become active, or collaboratively involved, in learning?

When you write your proposal, it’s best to describe a couple of assignments as you explain how your course will meet the GenEd learning goals. Specifics will allow the GEEC to get a good sense of how you plan to engage students.

What is Information Literacy?
One key “habit of mind” a GenEd course must explicitly develop is information literacy–the ability to “identify, evaluate and use” information.

In the face of what is an ever-growing information blitz, we need to equip our students with the ability to find relevant information, to discriminate between trustworthy and less-than-trustworthy sources, and to bring seemingly-unrelated pieces of information to bear on complicated problem-solving.

As David Brooks put it in the New York Times on May 2, 2008:

We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. …The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches–the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

Your GenEd proposal should include at least one assignment specifically describing how students will get practice finding, evaluating and using information. Fortunately, there are a number of library specialists who would be glad to meet with you and help you develop this component of your proposal.

Who will help me develop a course proposal?
GenEd Area Coordinators:

Where can I access the GenEd Proposal Guidelines & Course Proposal Form?
Please use the GenEd Course Proposal Guide & Form (includes the Preliminary and Final Proposal Cover Sheet).

How can I propose an Honors GenEd course?
GenEd Honors courses are of two types. Any GenEd course can be taught in Honors version, as long as Ruth Ost, Honors Director, has pre-approved the instructor. And an individual or team can propose a course specifically for Honors. If that is your goal, you must first contact Ruth Ost, who will decide whether you may teach it in the Honors Program.

What is the process for course approval?
Step 1: Departmental and College Support
Your Area Coordinator will not only help you to develop the substance of your course proposal, but will also help with important practical considerations re. the feasibility of your department(s) and college(s) allowing you and others to teach your course. Your AC will be communicating with the relevant Chairs, Deans and college curricular committees to ensure that–assuming the course is favorably reviewed by the GenEd Executive Committee(GEEC)–it is likely to be supported locally.

Step 2: GenEd Subcommittee review
Once your proposal is complete, it will be reviewed by a subcommittee composed of a GenEd Executive Committee (GEEC) member who has a background similar to yours, your Area Coordinator and GenEd staff. This subcommittee will either pass your proposal along to the full GEEC for review, or ask you for a revision.

Step 3: The full GEEC will review your proposal and make a decision whether to accept, ask for revision, or reject it. One can anticipate the entire process from start to finish to take 7-9 months.

PEX Passport FAQ
Information about the PEX Passport can be found in the Passport FAQs.

What does PILOTING a course entail?
The first time your course is taught is the “pilot,” your opportunity to test out your new ideas, learn what works and what doesn’t. Faculty have generally refined their materials, assignment and approach once they have had this chance. They have often found that a Course Portfolio is easiest to build after teaching the new course at least once.

A Course Portfolio is a work in progress, developed gradually as a course is taught.

It will typically include a detailed syllabus and many of the following:

  • Information on any textbook required, other readings
  • Sample homework and in-class assignments
  • Study questions
  • Supplemental readings, images, film clips
  • Sample lecture
  • Planning notes
  • Quizzes and exams
  • Grading rubrics
  • Sample student work

Once you have collected what you judge to be enough information in your portfolio such that another person with a similar background and an interest in teaching your course might be able to use the portfolio to teach it, it’s probably as complete as it needs to be for the purposes of receiving the second half of a course development award, but we envision Course Portfolios, housed on course-specific Blackboard sites, as constantly evolving.