The curriculum review and approval process has many layers and steps. If you are new to developing curriculum proposals, the H&S Curriculum Committee strongly urges you to review the HSCC Guidelines in advance, and then consult with the HSCC Chair and/or the Associate Dean if you need additional information or guidance.

In recent years, the HSCC has realized that the section on the proposal form that creates the most challenges for proposers is also the section that is the most important once the proposal leaves the department: the rationale. Here we excerpt the guidelines for how to craft a robust rationale in support of your curriculum proposals. These guidelines can also be found in the HSCC Guidelines document, along with a more detailed discussion of the proposal routing, review, and approval process.

    Writing the Rationale for Curriculum Proposals

    The rationale is one of the most important elements of a proposal. This is where new curricular additions or modifications are explained and justified. The committees that review these proposals will rarely be in the same or even a related disciplinary area as the proposer, so clarity, accuracy, and concision are key qualities. We suggest you answer or adapt the statements below in your rationale for new or revised proposals.

    For new course proposals, the rationale should respond to the following questions:

    • What does the course add to the department’s major and/or minor programs or concentrations in terms of content, skills, or a combination?
    • If the course is targeted to a general education audience, what does this add to the broader educational experience of Ithaca College students?
    • Are the learning outcomes for the course (which must be specified) aligned with program learning outcomes and consistent with the level of the course?
    • Is the course being added in response to program assessment – what specifically did the department learn and how would this course address that need?

    If a course is being revised, it is not necessary to include a detailed history of how the course has been taught in the past. The key task in the revised proposal is to describe the changes and justify them. In this case, changes may be:

    • due to modifications in departmental curricular priorities,
    • in response to new developments in professional or academic practice, or
    • following from program assessment. 

    Questions to answer include:

    • What is being added to or removed from a course?
    • Are the learning outcomes changing?
    • How does this change affect the program?

    New and revised program proposals need similar justifications as new and revised courses, though with a broader perspective.

    ***Please note: new major programs need approval at the presidential level (via New Program Authorization Form) before being proposed in the APC process; new minor programs need approval at the provost level (also via a New Program Authorization Form) before the curriculum proposals can be prepared and submitted. The New Program Authorization Form is now available in the CIM workflow system.***

    Questions for new programs include:

    • What does the program add to the department, school, and/or college in terms of content and skills?
    • Is the program being added in response to program assessment – what specifically did the department learn and how would this new program address that need?

    As with revised courses, revised program proposals should also describe the changes and justify them. Program changes may be:

    • due to modifications in departmental curricular priorities,
    • in response to new developments in professional or academic practice, or
    • following from program assessment.

    Questions to answer include:

    • What is being added to or removed from a program?
    • Are the program learning outcomes changing?
    • How does this change affect the school or college?

    Additional questions for all program proposals include:

    • how does the new or revised program contribute to the overall curriculum of H&S and to Ithaca College?
    • how does the new or revised program reflect current academic standards, including types of courses offered, sequencing of courses, and assessment procedures?