Montana KaiminDecember 2, 2003
Committee rejects military science minor again
Some on standards committee cite philosophical issues with military
Tension has arisen between the military science department and the University of Montana’s academic standards committee after the committee rejected adding a military science minor for the second time in two years.
The Academic Standards and Curriculum Review Committee’s Nov. 18 vote of 7-4 against the proposal means the military science department will have to wait another year before resubmitting its proposal to add the minor. Members of the committee criticized the proposal on technical and philosophical fronts, saying it did not include integral course work and could further align the University with the Department of Defense.
“We had about four pages of questions on their final proposal,” said committee member David Moore.
Moore said the committee found contradictions and summaries that didn’t satisfactorily include courses recommended by the committee when the proposal was brought before it last year.
He said the military science department had not fully addressed the inclusion of history and political science classes into the military science minor curriculum.
The committee was also concerned that the department is composed of a set of rotating U.S. Army appointments paid for by the Department of Defense, Moore said. Because of this, the faculty has a high turnover rate and is not the same from year to year. Moore said the faculty consists of officers who are not necessarily trained in military science or other academic disciplines.
“They aren’t actually a University department with accountability to the University Faculty Senate or the ASCRC,” Moore said. “It was precisely these kinds of issues that looked like they were trying to fit the proposal through certain academic hoops but weren’t actually fitting those true standards the committee was urging them to.”
An early draft of an ASCRC memo to be released Tuesday noted the dissent of several members of the committee with the implications of identifying UM more directly with the Department of Defense.
The memo said members cited what they believe is a history of the misuse of the military for political and economic leverage and now what they see as the erosion of academic freedom. The memo also criticized recent legislation such as the Homeland Security Act.
Chairwoman of the military science department Lt. Col. Heather Ierardi said she had heard the rejection was influenced by dissenting opinions on the conflict with Iraq.
“In some part I’m told it has to do with timing,” Ierardi said. “I’ve heard this from several administrators and members of the ASCRC — it’s because of the war.”
Ierardi said the department had included the core classes of history and political science to the proposed military science minor curriculum and had opened the minor to nonmilitary students, as was recommended by the ASCRC last year.
“For some members of that voting committee, it doesn’t matter what the proposal were to look like, out of hand it would be rejected because it has the name military on the title,” Ierardi said.
She said she has been open to the suggestions of the committee and has included the changes it wanted last year.
“I obviously haven’t cracked the code exactly in what it is they wanted,” she said.
Ierardi said she was told several professors sent letters of nonsupport of the department to the standards committee. She said she hasn’t been able to see them yet.
Ierardi will rework the proposal again to be submitted next year. The department brings in many out-of-state students, which the University has recently been lacking, she said, and the addition of a military science minor would attract even more students.
“I’m willing to work through the system,” Ierardi said. “Academia is a completely different organization than the military structure. I’m learning every day and am willing to negotiate these obstacles.”