Curriculum Committee: Meeting 1

General Principles


IfA faculty are our greatest resource. We have a large number of faculty and they have expertise in a broad range of subjects.

Directions to develop the teaching program:

  1. a graduate program reflecting our strengths and abilities;
  2. undergraduate courses which offer a positive experience of basic astronomy;
  3. an undergraduate major as

Direction #3 generated much discussion. Hilo is going ahead with a degree program; can/should we compete? Where do we get the students?

Scope of this Committee

The Curriculum Committee is an ADVISORY body.

The committee deals with both graduate and undergraduate programs; sometimes it's necessary to consider both together. For example, developing an undergraduate degree would require resources which might otherwise be devoted to graduate education.

Specific areas of concern include but are NOT limited to

  1. changes in curricula,
  2. developing seminar courses,
  3. grad. degree requirements.

The IfA Compared with other Graduate Programs

A straightforward comparison of our course offerings with those of other institutions (see Graduate Courses Compared) suggests that we teach the basics but do not offer the more advanced courses.

The purpose of our current graduate courses is not clear to the student body. Are students required to master all of our 600-level classes? If we expand our offerings, will they be expected to take every class?

The 700-level seminars we have offered provide a much better reflection of the true scientific scope of the IfA. Recent seminars include several topics which may be worth including in the course catalog and teaching on a regular basis.

Seminar courses could expose students to advanced topics which are not covered in our standard sequence of 600-level courses. However, the problem of finding enough people to take these seminars is an issue. Would it be appropriate to require a certain number of seminars in order to get a PhD? If so, the faculty would have to offer a reasonable range of topics on a regular basis.

Additional topics which could be covered in 700-level classes include:

  1. Instrument Design
  2. Solar Astronomy
  3. Numerical Techniques
  4. Scientific Enterprise
  5. X-ray Astronomy
  6. Radio Astronomy
  7. Data Analysis

Joshua E. Barnes (
Last modified: May 2, 2001