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THE SFS UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT SURVEY 2011-2012
Introduction and overview: As a response to the BSFS External Review consultations past spring, the School of Foreign Service administration and leadership established the BSFS Review Committee, a committee with dean, faculty, and student participation, with the mandate to reevaluate the overall BSFS Experience, identify its strengths and weaknesses, suggest improvements and reinforce its overall strength as well as charm. Since the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, this committee has been working hard, questioning core requirements, majors, certificates etc. Once it wraps up its work at the close of this semester, it will have a long list of suggestions and potential improvements, topics for discussion, and many recommendations. The SFS Academic Council felt it crucial to have the most adequate student input possible. The obvious solution was to survey the entire SFS undergraduate student body with a myriad of questions. Given the overwhelming response, especially with a lot of useful and detailed comments – spread over 210 pages of overall data, we now have a clearer idea of what aspects of the BSFS Experience students particularly like – and where they would like to see the program change. You can find the answers on the following pages. This report seeks to summarize the students’ answers, integrate some of the most useful and detailed comments, and complement them with tangible suggestions. Some of the opinions and suggestions may be provocative. They are intended so. The Academic Council seeks to stimulate and fuel a constructive debate on the issues outlined below. We invite students, faculty, and deans to participate in the ensuing discussions. None of the suggestions are considered ultimate or definitive, yet it is our hope that they are taken seriously and given careful consideration. Throughout this semester, the SFS Academic Council intends to host town hall-style meetings, which everyone is very welcome and encouraged to attend and share their opinions at. Only that way can we formulate meaningful suggestions and carry the discussion to a fruitful level. Should you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns – or should you like to get involved, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. Please email us for access to the raw survey data as well. Sincerely, Lucas Stratmann President of the SFS Academic Council Leticia Ferreras & Joaquin Ormeño – Senior Representatives Jonathan Askonas, Alexandra McCue & Hilary Wong – Junior Representatives Denis Peskov & Kyle Zhu – Sophomore Representatives Samuel Greco & Asjed Hussain – Freshman Representatives
Demographics: Survey Takers: 453 students overall
90.00% U.S. Students International Students Male Female
36.40% 24.10% 19.20% 20.30%
Class of 2015
Class of 2014
Class of 2013
Class of 2012
Overall Assessment of SFS Experience Freshmen Experience: Statement
My SFS Pro-Seminar has helped me adjust to academic life at Georgetown University. The Peer Mentor Program has been a support in my time of adjustment. Upperclassmen are an accessible resource for advice and support. I am satisfied with the classes I am taking. I am overall content with my first months at Georgetown and in the SFS. The SFS has met the expectations I had upon arriving at Georgetown.
Agree 79.2% 20.0% 63.8% 78.1% 84.4% 83.2%
Neutral 11.3% 31.9% 18.8% 15.6% 10.6% 8.8%
Disagree 9.5% 43.1% 17.5% 6.1% 5.0% 8.1%
Overall, freshmen seem very content with their first semester experience. The Pro-Seminars largely receive positive feedback, with a few complaints from students who did not get into their first or second choice Pro-Seminar classes. Some students criticize the vast divergences in teaching methods and requirements across the different Pro-Seminars. Professor Hrebenak and Professor Steinberg receive outstanding feedback.
“I have only seen Although freshmen view upperclassmen as an accessible resource for advice my peer mentor (63.8%), the Peer Mentor Program, the institutionalized form of upperclassmen twice. She stopped advice does not achieve its goal: only 20% of the respondents think of it as a checking in after the functioning support system. The Program is not working properly. Although second week.” several improvements have been made in the past year, its overall structure is inefficient. It should be reformed: Incoming freshmen should be able to choose their mentors based on their interests. More funding should be available to the mentors to plan events with their mentees. Mentors should have a smaller group of mentees to adequately advise and mentor them. Therefore the size of the mentor group should be increased.
Academically, freshmen are overall satisfied, with about 4/5 enjoying their classes and experience at Georgetown and in the SFS.
The Core Curriculum – http://bsfs.georgetown.edu/academics/core/ Statement Agree Neutral The diversity of the SFS core curriculum 64.7% 20.4%
influenced my decision to come study at the SFS. The variety of classes that fulfill 70.1% individual core curriculum requirements is satisfactory. I believe the SFS core curriculum would 33.1% be more complete with a science requirement. (These Questions were only asked to underclassmen)
Disagree 12.9% 14.6% 51.8%
While there is generally approval of the BSFS Core and its requirements as well as the available classes that fulfill them, there is a slight disapproval of adding a new science requirement – 51.8% of the respondents oppose adding a science requirement. The open comments emphasize that students are torn:
“There should be no science requirement, as science has to do with only one of the SFS majors, STIA. Forcing people to take science when their intended major (IPOL, IPEC, etc.) has nothing to do with physical science is pointless in my mind. Also, adding another core class would make it harder to take more electives.”
“We really do need a science requirement in the SFS. I strongly feel that I will not be fully prepared to analyze International Politics without a science requirement. So many things in the international arena--nuclear weapons, climate change, pesticide regulations, biodiversity--require one to have at least some knowledge of science to make informed policy decisions.”
A clearer idea of what that “Science Requirement”, as an addition to the BSFS Core Requirements, would look like is needed. Already under pressure with the existing course load, an additional requirement could overburden students, reduce the number of possible electives, and/or jeopardize the ability to take a certificate. A Science Requirement: Should focus on topics related to International Affairs, not any type of science Should only add a minimal burden to the already tough BSFS Core by Either replacing an existing requirement, or by Formatting it like the Map of the Modern World class (which could then have its science-related contents replaced by more geopolitical content)
The diversity of the SFS core curriculum 66.3% 23.7% 10.1% influenced my decision to come study at the SFS. The SFS core curriculum provides a 90.6% 3.0% 6.5% solid background for an International Affairs Education. Taking core curriculum classes has 49.7% 20.7% 29.6% helped me build relationships with professors in different departments. The variety of classes that fulfill 69.1% 9.5% 20.8% individual core curriculum requirements is satisfactory. The SFS curriculum (core + major) has 84.6% 6.5% 8.9% made me a more well-rounded person. (This set of questions was only answered by upperclassmen. Due to a technical glitch the question on the Science Requirement did unfortunately not get included.)
Upperclassmen echo underclassmen’s sentiments toward the BSFS core curriculum. As they have largely completed their core classes, 90 per cent think that the interdisciplinary mix of classes provided them with a solid background in International Affairs. About 85 per cent stat that it has made them a more well-rounded person. Regarding the relevance of all core curriculum classes, there is strong divergence between under- and upperclassmen: while only 38 per cent of underclassmen think there are irrelevant core classes, 59 per cent of upperclassmen think that there are in fact less relevant or irrelevant core requirements.
Not all classes are relevant 38%
All classes are relevant 62%
Not all classes are relevant 59%
All classes are relevant 41%
Some students point to the fact that the content of some core classes, e.g. Political and Social Thought (PHIL-099) or Introduction to International Relations (GOVT-006), varies vastly among professors. More standardized content requirements may contribute to equally educating students without constraining the professors’ independence too much. Students provided many insightful suggestions regarding individual core requirements in the comments section. Generally, they emphasize the heavy time constraints of the core and provide ideas in changing and streamlining the curriculum. Many of these ideas are discussed in individual subject sections below.
Economics Requirements Dissatisfaction with the Economics Requirements is a common theme throughout the survey. While some students merely declare their discontent with their grade, a lot of the comments regarding Economics classes in the core contain useful, constructive criticism. There is a general agreement that Economics as a subject is highly useful and very relevant to the BSFS program. Many students, however, state that four requirements in economics “The four economics courses are quite redundant. International Trade is very repetitive of Microeconomics (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International and International Finance of Macroeconomics. The Trade, International Finance) are economics courses could be made more relevant by more disproportionate to the other subject areas in the in-touch professors. Professors seem largely uncaring, core. uninterested and unwilling to make students want to
understand the material.”
Students feel that because there is little coordination among the professors teaching the four introductory classes and therefore frequent repetition. Furthermore, students seem dissatisfied with the large lecture-style format that the four classes are taught in. That way, professors have little time to spend on “The TAs I have had in all my econ classes have been pretty individual students. Recitations – mostly taught by abysmal (and frequently not undergraduates – do not make up for the lack of direct particularly proficient in interaction. In fact, recitations seem to be another matter of large English, which doesn't help).” discontent. Students complain about unprepared and unhelpful Teaching Assistants. The following suggestions could strengthen the Economics classes in the Core Curriculum, increase strength in Economics among SFS Students, and foster satisfaction with the Economics Department: Improve professor/student ration even in introductory classes Increase real contact between professor and student (i.e. through more office hours, more discussion / Q&A-time in classes) Set guidelines that minimize the overlap between the four classes Employ graduate students and PhD-Candidates as Teaching Assistants for introductory courses Ensure high standards for Teaching Assistants, both for their knowledge in Economics as well as their ability to explain and teach material well Engage students, professors, and deans in a discussion on how to improve the overall class environment Consider the integrating International Trade and International Finance into one class to adjust Economics’ share in the core curriculum NB: The SFS Academic Council understands that this is a recurring topic / issue of complaint. Oftentimes, complaints devolve into ‘name-calling’ and the mere expression of personal, subjective grievances. We hope that we can move beyond that stage and engage in a fruitful and objective discussion to improve the Economics section in the BSFS program’s core.
Government Requirements Both government classes required in the core receive very positive feedback throughout the survey, with many of the professors as well as Assistants lauded for their content and instruction style. Here too, however, students point to the large lecture-style classes (IR, CPS) that do not allow for much student-professor interaction. CPS and IR seem to overlap significantly in Although students generally compliment professors, the curriculum. Perhaps another government some seem dissatisfied with the vast differences in class could add variety. the subject among professors. Students seem to be satisfied with having LOVED CPS with Carnes graduate students as Teaching Assistants, some complain that - felt learned excellent their TAs do not seem prepared enough. The following research tools. suggestions might strengthen the GOVT-006 and GOVT-121: Standards for curricula and which theories should be covered in both courses Rigorous system of selecting graduate students as Teaching Assistants History Requirements The composition of the three History courses (Introductory History, two non-Western regional history courses, one of which must be an early history, one a modern one) receives a lot of criticism among the survey respondents. Most respondents recognize the overall importance and relevance of history classes to the BSFS “World History - This requirement Core. Yet, many students feel constrained by the nature of the three is ridiculous. The classes are so broad as to be meaningless, and I requirements: particularly the introductory (HIST-007 / HIST-008) felt that this was a waste of my feels too broad and largely irrelevant to what the BSFS Core aims to time. It was the only class I've had achieve. Under the limitations and pressure of both core and major here that was intellectually at a prerequirements, an alternative history course replacing the introductory college level. This requirement isn't history could allow students to pursue a thematic or regional interest necessary.” in history. Additionally, the early and modern requirements may turn out to prevent students from thematic rather than geographic foci in their studies. Individual “I understand why we have to take themes, for instance “Global implications of Great Britain’s regional history, but my regional colonialism”, might be better covered by two modern history courses. history classes, especially my early The history portion of the core curriculum would benefit from: history, did not feel relevant. I wish A rethinking of the introductory course, either abandoning it we had been able to choose from a “I would have greater diversity of history classes.” altogether or allowing for higher history classes to replace it appreciated a More flexibility in the early and modern requirements, or military history Reducing the two non-Western history requirements to one course, for Allowing for thematic history classes to count towards the history requirement example, rather
than a nonwestern regional history.”
Humanities and Writing Requirements For students without AP (or equivalent) credit, there are two Humanities and Writing Requirements. A lot of respondents complain about a perceived irrelevance to the BSFS program. Simultaneously, writing and reading intensive “The two Humanities and Freshman Pro-Seminars and (PST) seem to address the skills to be taught in Writing classes aren't HUMW classes. The HUMW-requirements therefore need to be more really necessary, because our Pro-Seminars are flexible:
“I do think it is too easy to test out of the Humanities and Writing requirement-I have met brilliant students in the SFS who simply do not know how to write.”
The Pro-Seminar could count towards the first requirement (HUMW-011) The second requirement could allow students to pursue a more advanced class in their foreign language (as is the status quo) HUMW or ENGL classes that cater more towards skills crucial for the BSFS program (public speaking, memorandum writing, academic writing, research methods etc.) could count towards the second requirement Assess whether AP (or equivalent) credits adequately achieve the goals of the core curriculum
already writing intensive. My Pro-Seminar has covered much more about writing than my HUMW class has.”
Philosophy Requirements The two philosophy requirements (Political and Social Thought + one course from PHIL-001199) are generally criticized in the context of a crammed core “In considering whether to continue curriculum that leaves little room for electives or other requiring PST and other such courses that independent academic pursuits. Some respondents point out their give a background in Western political great experience in PST discussion sections. thought, the SFS needs to consider whether PST classes specifically are criticized in two ways: (1) the in today's world such a grounding is still the strongly divergent curricula among professors teaching the mark of a good education, or whether a broader philosophical grounding that gives course, and (2) the traditionally western philosophy bias. students some insight into other worldviews Responding to these points, the philosophy requirements could:
might be more relevant.”
Have a standardized list of theories/philosophies to be covered Have a discussion on whether Western-centric approach is still a valuable one for the BSFS core.
Pro-Seminar The Freshmen Pro-Seminars receive outstanding feedback across the board. The small, discussion and writing-intensive classes are perceived as a good introduction into the SFS and Georgetown in the first semester of freshman year. Many respondents list it as the “most positive aspect” of their SFS experience. Its particular strengths are the small class size, the “The Pro-Seminar discussions, and the strong reading and writing has been a good components. Altogether they help students adjust to “My Pro-Seminar has dominated my life for introduction to the the entire semester with 1-2 essays and the academic university environment and to SFS and creates hundreds of pages of reading due every more of a "class familiarize with the expectations and challenges of week. There was no acclimation period community" than their undergraduate experience. Some students are whatsoever, it was just, ‘in this class we're other courses.” dissatisfied with the intensity of their respective going to be reading critically and writing Pro-Seminars, generally, however, students value papers while your peers are fingerpainting.’” their challenging amount of requirements as a preparation for the upcoming years.
Map of the Modern World A lot of respondents praise Map of the Modern World for the collective SFS-experience students take away from it. It is the only class that every BSFS year takes together every year. Many comments point to the difference between the former and current “I am in the class of students that took version of the course. A report on this issue was conducted and the "new" Map class for the first time, submitted by a student-run group in the academic year of 2010and while I hear amazing things about 2011, without any visible changes by faculty or administration. With the older Map course, I was very the momentum for a science requirement, possibly modeled after the disappointed with the revised class 1-credit Map of the Modern World class, could harbor IA-related structure and content. If the SFS is interested in adding science to the core science content and bring Map of the Modern World back to its curriculum, add a class or two about the geopolitical focus.
Map of the Modern World should be revised to its old format -- the old format of the course challenges students to understand modern political geography and provided a comprehensive overview of presenting political events across the global. The revised version (the one currently offered) loses the political and historical relevancy the previous course offered. “Instead, it covers topics less essential for a background in international affairs.
environment and nuclear issues, for example, but I didn't see particular value in mixing the traditional Map course with the Hadley cell and equation for photosynthesis.”
Certificates in the SFS Statement
The seventeen certificates (http://bsfs.georgetown.edu/academics/certificates/) offered in the SFS sufficiently cover regions and themes of International Affairs. Certificates receive sufficient promotion within the SFS.
Agree 81.6% 75.9% 46.6% 35.8%
Neutral 8.6% 9.0% 25.9% 21.2%
Disagree 8.6% 14.4% 25.5% 42.4%
(the top values are responses by underclassmen; the lower values are responses by upperclassmen)
“I think students should be given greater room to design their own certificates and combine different disciplines. Also, the Asian studies certificate is vague. East Asian, Central Asian (wrongly called EuroAsian), South Asian, West Asian (orientalists like calling this the Middle East) and North Asian (Russia, Mongolia etc) countries require different, subjective measures of analysis. The Asian studies certificate fails to address the complexity of the region through its overwhelming focus on East Asian countries. I propose the certificate is renamed East Asian Studies, and other certificates are introduced to address other Asian regions.”
“I think there should be a much larger range of what people can get a certificate in, especially since the SFS does not offer minors. Even certificates in generic subjects like English would go a long way in fixing this problem. I, for example, am considering switching to the college simply because the SFS will not allow me to minor/get a certificate in English. I think this is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.”
The majorities of both under- and upperclassmen agree that the seventeen certificates available in the SFS cover the realm of International Affairs – thematically and regionally. They could be promoted more effectively; some respondents wish they had had more information in earlier stages of their undergraduate career, so that they could have taken relevant classes earlier on. Especially upperclassmen are dissatisfied with the promotion of the certificates. There are multiple suggestions for new certificates – from a STIA Certificate to a Research in IA Certificate. Rather than continue adding on to the already long list of certificates, a more flexible certificate structure (the “Do-it-yourself”-certificate, with fixed requirements such as interdisciplinarity and double-counting limits) could reduce the fairly unstructured list of existing certificates and allow students to pursue their individual academic interests with formal certification – in an unbureaucratic manner.
Language Proficiency Asked whether the respective language proficiency exams students have taken reflects a high level of actual language proficiency, 70 per cent of the respondents indicated that their exams do reflect a high level of knowledge of the language they were tested in. Only 18 per cent indicated that it hardly reflects or does not at all reflect a high level at all. The “It definitely reflects a qualitative comments both criticize the easiness high level of knowledge of “Standardizing the awarding of and toughness of respective exams. More general the language, but my level proficiency across language criticism points to the different standards among has not been maintained departments and/or coming up with since I took the test the language departments and calls for more a clear criteria for proficiency that freshman year.” standardization. Additionally, some respondents students can use to communicate address the fact that the language level at the time their level to future employers would be helpful, for example of a proficiency exam (which might be as early as rating students' language skills freshman year), may decrease until graduation and thus not adequately based on the scale used by the reflect the actual command of a language at the time of certification.
Foreign Service” “I passed the test my freshman year and looking back I did not have an adequate grasp of the language at the time.”
Standardization of the tests is difficult among critical and non-critical languages (under the present time constraints) A conversation with the individual language departments should be initiated to see how to improve ‘actual’ command of a language upon graduation to make the certification fairer. Allow students to acquire language proficiency in languages not offered at Georgetown – a student coming into freshman year with proficient knowledge in Urdu should not be at a disadvantage over an incoming freshman with proficiency in Farsi.
SFS Majors Statement
The Dean's Office (BSFS Website, individual meetings/advice, information sessions) is clarifying the differences between the majors well. The seven majors offered in the SFS sufficiently cover the pertinent issues and topics of International Affairs. My major requirements allow room to both fully explore my specific fields of interest and a wide range of world issues. Major classes challenge me to approach specific issues from different, interdisciplinary angles.
Agree 79.1% 84.1% 79.4% 74.3%
Neutral 11.4% 8.9% 10.1% 10.1%
Disagree 7.4% 6.5% 12.7% 4.1%
“The majors have a built-in intellectual/ideological bias to them and students must pick between them before they’ve had a chance to seriously question these biases or figure out where they stand between them. IPEC substantiates the belief that it's the interaction of politics and economics that drives international politics. IPOL shows how foreign-policy actors drive the world etc for the rest of the majors -it's all culture for CULP and it's all civilization for RCST. The problem is that each one just ends up looking at issues that substantiate their preconceived bias. IPOL looks at wars and treaties – IPEC looks at trade and globalization. RCST looks at the humanities in different languages etc. The majors don't force students to challenge these notions and get a comprehensive or holistic of what drives international politics. Students should be forced to cross these boundaries, not be allowed to recede into their intellectual silos. IPOL students should be forced to continue to confront more econ without having to work through models that require linear algebra. RCST students should be forced to consider why wars start and how they’re conducted. The majors allow students to simply follow what interests them and avoid deep intellectual challenges when they're supposed to, or it seems the SFS would institutionally want the majors to be lenses onto international politics. There seems to be a problem when the latter is the goal but the former is the reality. We're not serving the mission of the SFS if students can get away with the former.”
Skills in the SFS Statement
Statistical inference Public speaking Analytical writing Scientific reasoning Critical reading Synthesizing empirical and nonempirical information Cross-cultural communication Native and non-native language acquisition Research methods
Teach 50.6% 39.7% 95% 45% 94.7% 82.9% 77% 81.7% 63.3%
Neutral 20.2% 19.8% 2.9% 23.9% 3.6% 9.9% 13.1% 11.1% 17.6%
Do not Teach 20.3% 37.1% 1.7% 27.8% 1.0% 5.7% 8.3% 6.5% 16.7%
95% of the students think that Analytical Writing and Critical Reading are skills well taught in the SFS. Coincidentally, both skills are heavily emphasized in the Freshman Pro-Seminars. Statistical inference, public speaking, scientific reasoning, and research methods could be improved by either adding an emphasis on them in the existing Pro-Seminars or by offering further seminars (Sophomore Seminars, for instance) focusing on those skills.
“Statistical inference - IPOL quant methods was a great class. Econ didn't help me too much on this. Public speaking - had great exposure to this in most of my major classes where presentations were nearly always required. Analytical writing - GREAT focus on writing long, endof-term research papers, but ZERO preparation for writing short, succinct policy papers. I only had one class where these types of papers were required. Writing a 3-pager is harder than writing a 30-pager for me, since I still struggle to be succinct and convincing.”
“Quantitative Methods was good. None of my classes taught public speaking, analytical writing, critical reading, or cross-cultural communication. They just expected that we knew how to do these things already. It's ironic, many of the syllabi say: "goals of the course: learn how to xyz..." But what really happens is that we are not taught those xyz skills, we are just expected to know how to do them already and then just do it. This is not fair for students who are trying to learn these skills and then are graded on their lack of these skills because they are not taught these skills in the first place.”
Teaching Methods Statement Lecture In-class discussion Recitation / discussion section / lab Office hours In-class examinations (midterm and final Effective 84.7% 85.3% 61.9% 75.6% 70.5% Neutral 6.3% 6.4% 14.9% 18.1% 17.1% Ineffective 9.0% 8.3% 20.8% 3.9% 11.7%
examinations) Take-home midterms Pop-Quizzes Paper assignments iClicker Blog Posts / Discussion boards
50.7% 25.2% 93.6% 34.5% 34.8%
14.5% 17.6% 4.9% 17.7% 23.5%
6.1% 26.6% 1.5% 20.5% 21.8%
The respondents highly value direct contact with the professor, either in the classroom or the professor’s office. Again, many comments criticize the strong variation between Teaching Assistants across big lecture classes. Better forms of assessing a TA’s teaching abilities should be implemented across the board. With regards to assessment, many students (mostly in the comments’ section) complain about the low rate of retention of in-class examinations. 94 per cent of students “The smaller the class, the better. The consider paper assignments an effective teaching method, while only SFS education is made by the seminars 35 per cent consider blog posts and iClickers effective teaching that allow for great dialogue with methods. Their use should be adjusted if technology is to play a professors and other students. Quality of substantial role in and outside of the classroom. discussion sections and recitations tends
to be highly dependent on TAs, and with a few exceptions I did not have good experiences with TAs. (This was particularly a problem in economics.) The lab requirements for language classes are rather useless. In-class exams tend to promote cramming at the expense of retention.” “Recitations only work if you are assigned a good TA. My microecon TA is terrible and actively tells us that he wishes we wouldn't come that way he didn't have to teach. There should be a stricter policy in place in order to become a TA.”
Accessibility of Professors Statement How accessible are professors overall? Undergraduate Research Statement Do you think that undergraduate students in the SFS have the opportunity to get involved in research projects with professors? Easy 13.5% Difficult 78.4% Impossible 8.1% Very Accessible 38.3% Somewhat Accessible 56.0% Neutral 3.7% Not very accessible 2.0%
More than ¾ of respondents think it is difficult to find research opportunities as an undergraduate. The current momentum for increasing undergraduate research (on a university level, within the SFS, through the Academic Council) therefore has a clear mandate from the student body.
“There are research opportunities, but they are not broadcast enough and they are also not encouraged. I think more should be done to encourage students to get involved with research projects. Work-study? SFS has such great professors; this is an opportunity that should not be passed up!”
Expressing Concerns Exactly 80 per cent of respondents think they have adequate means of expressing their concerns with the School of Foreign Service. Some students ask explicitly for an anonymous way of expressing their concerns (regarding Deans and Professors, for instance). The Academic Council has started to work on this issue. In the meantime, students can submit any form of concern to the Academic Council and ask to be represented anonymously (simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
SFS Commons 83 per cent of students think that the SFS needs an undergraduate public space – a “SFS Undergraduate Commons.” While this is certainly a difficult project to achieve, the SFS should strongly consider making this a priority on its long-term agenda and advocate for dedicating ample space that could allocate space to: What types of facilities should it incorporate? Pre-paid printing (similar to the MSB tuitionpaid printing) Social space for students Social space for professor-student interaction Break-out and group study rooms Individual study rooms
79.8% 77.2% 73.9% 91.6% 75.0%
All of the above! The SFS has no place to call "home". The ICC only has about 5 tables and we share that building with the college. NHS has two places St.Mary's and the science building, MSB had the MSB, but the college and SFS are sharing a small, inefficiently spaced and constructed ICC building with no chairs, bad lighting, no cell phone connection in the bottom floors and 4+ out of the 7 floors are occupied with professors offices or the Arab Center. Where can the students study???!
Overall Satisfaction with SFS How satisfied are you with the following aspects of your academic experience? Classroom, overall Professors Deans SFS, overall Georgetown University, overall Satisfied Neutral Dissatisfied
95.0% 93.3% 83.7% 93.0% 91.3%
3.0% 4.5% 8.4% 4.7% 4.5%
0.7% 0.0% 2.2% 1.2% 0.7%
Some General Comments Below are some comments that we found noteworthy, insightful, or provocative. Most of them are taken from the questions (1) “What was the most positive aspect of your BSFS Experience?” – indicated by a ‘+’ sign – and (2) “What was the most negative aspect of your BSFS Experience?” – indicated by a ‘–’ sign. Comments from other questions are unmarked. While they do not reflect the view of the SFS Academic Council, we believe they underline the diversity among students’ opinions.
“In general, though, I dislike how the SFS restricts itself to overarching theory and won't ever let you focus too deeply on any one country. For example, you choose French as your language, study abroad in France, and they won't let a French law course count towards your ILAW major, when these courses could be extremely valuable.” “I just want to point out that the differences among everyone's Prosem and Problem of God classes are pretty significant. Especially in terms of grading and level of difficulty, I think there's a lot of inequity.” “It's been an amazing experience. However, like every other SFS junior, the "what next" question is daunting. I have found career advisors at Georgetown's career center downright rude and unhelpful. Last time I went, the pre-law counselor told me she could not help me with applications to UK law schools. If she can't, then who can? This is not in the SFS domain per say, but it's a concern I've found among most SFS international students. We are not eligible for US government or consulting jobs. And if we don't want to work for Wall Street, there are next to no options for gainful employment left.” “Professors, the SFS, and the University as a whole should make it easier for students to educate their whole person (e.g. more student space to inspire discussion of academic issues outside the classroom, professors engaging students more outside the classroom and encouraging students to reflect on how values/identity relate to course material, how theory relates to practice, etc.)” “I have been much more satisfied with my experience in all of major classes (and in about half my language classes) than I have been with most of my core classes.” + “Learning foreign languages and browsing the course catalog/speaking with older students about the amazing opportunities available for higher level classes, etc. Also the speakers that visit SFS, etc.” + “I really enjoy my proseminar and I think it has helped a lot with meeting people, having discussions rather than just lectures, and learning how to research and write analytically about new topics.” + “The way in which the ideas being learned in different classes are relevant to each other, which gives me a better understanding of the topics as a whole” + “I've been able to attend some wonderful lectures. Intensive Arabic is ridiculously difficult but overwhelmingly enjoyable at the same time. Being an SFS student is not something I take for granted. I already feel like I've narrowed my focus as far as my intended career path just by being in the SFS for a few months.” + “I have a great relationship with my dean. He has given me great freedom to creatively approach my major. I have really benefited from strong relationships with professors, too.”
+ “I liked the proseminar. It is my favorite class. I think it provides very good opporutnities for students to focus on a topic outside of their core curriculum and truly discover whether they have interest in that particular area. Professor/student interaction is good too in proseminars.” + “Two experiences are tied for the most positive: conducting research with a professor, and taking Quantitative Methods of International Politics which sparked my previously unknown interest in statistics.” – “The rigidity of the core has been difficult to work around. I don't think that the concept of core requirements is a bad one, but if there were a wider range of courses that could fulfill each requirement, I could better develop my interests. The courses that I am taking now are so general that I don't know if I'll ever be able to discover/study a specific topic in depth.” – “I really think it is peculiar that the SFS does not have some type of Undergraduate Commons. I believe the school would benefit greatly from this type of space. It would bolster the sense of community within the SFS as well as provide space for students to work outside of the over-crowded library.” – “Workload extremely overwhelming. Also, a high degree of knowledge about foreign affairs is presupposed for my proseminar, making me feel constantly lost during class discussion.” – “Being so restricted in taking classes in the college due to bureaucratic hullabaloo about funding. Also, the bureaucracy involved in getting into the honors program. Totally unnecessary and very subject to personal bias by the committee.” – “I have had very bad advising and I am very disappointed by the SFSs inflexible nature. I am disappointed that the SFS has an idea of what its students should do or be and tries to make its students do what the SFS wants instead of guiding them through the SFS and helping the students understand what they want.” – “I don't find myself intellectually stimulated at times because I have to take certain courses in the curriculum that are outside of my interest. However, i don't find this a problem of the core curriculum itself (although it could be somewhat reduced with its requirement for second courses in, philosophy and theology) so that students from their freshman year can take certain electives that interest them.” – “Certain professors rely far too much on a lecture-based teaching style and expect nothing more than regurgitation of information on a test or essay. After the exam, I can hardly remember any of the information I 'learned'. That classroom environment does not even come close to true learning.”
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