About Us: ExCollege History
Fifty Years and Counting. What seems clear after nearly fifty years is that, along with being a center for academic innovation, the Ex College is best known as a place where students and faculty work together on an equal footing. At present, the Experimental College offers over seventy credit-bearing undergraduate electives enrolling more than 1500 students annually. These courses are the result of a unique collaboration between faculty and student volunteers who interview all applicants and review course materials, thus playing a major part in the selection of a curriculum that, each semester, broadens and deepens the offerings in Arts and Sciences.
Establishment, 1964-1968. The first board of the Experimental
College was composed of faculty members representing four different
fields: engineering, social science, natural science, and
humanities, with one member-at-large. Almost immediately after
convening, the board broke from Tufts' tradition by including
students in the decision-making process of the college. By the
spring of 1966, the board unanimously agreed that its four student
members be given full voting rights and that a two-thirds majority
be required for all major decisions.
Student Activism, 1969-1973. "Relevance" in the classroom, a key demand in the student rhetoric of the sixties, conjures images of gradeless classes, courses on consciousness, and open classrooms. In the Ex College, "relevance" in the classroom was funneled into an explosion of peer-led classes and courses on contemporary political issues. Its flexibility and openness made it an ideal place to absorb students' political activity and demand for academic alternatives. The university's African American Studies and Women's Studies programs were started in the Experimental College during this period, as was one of its most successful innovations, Explorations, a student-led seminar program that combines advising and academics for entering students, initiated in 1972.
The Struggle for a Permanent Charter, 1974-1979. By 1974, the Experimental College continued to display a capacity for growth and innovation. From its first course on the contemporary European novel to interdisciplinary science courses, to women's studies classes, to seminars on communications and law, the Ex College was able to adapt to a changing student culture. It was through this strength that the Ex College won a permanent charter in 1979. An outside evaluating committee reached the conclusion that for the Experimental College "to have survived and flourished as an innovative, undergraduate educational enterprise was nothing short of remarkable."
Growth and Change, 1979-1993. Along with continuing to
emphasize Tufts' commitment to undergraduate education through the
testing of new ideas and courses, after 1979 the mission of the
college took an important turn: developing and housing programs that
did not fit well in the regular curriculum. Thus, the new charter
meant that the Ex College -- along with testing such courses as
American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, ethnomusicology,
and jazz -- was now viewed as the appropriate venue for housing
curricular innovations. This led to a decision on the part of the
board to offer a special course intended to promote honest dialogue
on campus, Race Awareness Within American Society. Moreover, the
first two of a number of multidisciplinary programs, Peace and
Justice Studies and Communications and Media Studies, were
established as satellite programs. In 1990 the faculty approved
independent status for Peace and Justice Studies, and it is now a major.
Media, Technology, and the Future. In 1996, the
Communications and Media Studies program, while continuing to be
housed in the Ex College, won approval as an interdisciplinary
minor. At almost the same time, the university embarked on a wiring
project in the residence halls which, in turn, opened up the
opportunity for educational access television on campus. After a
three-year process of negotiation and study by the faculty, TUTV,
the student-run, campus TV station, became another member of the Ex
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