Students clamoring for summer internships will find their search broadened by a recent change to the policy regarding academic credit. The Bowdoin Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) voted to pass a proposal that will acknowledge internships that require academic credit as a condition of employment at Monday's faculty meeting, allowing students to pursue internships they previously could not.
Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd was clear that this new policy would not give students academic credit toward their degree at Bowdoin, but instead would make a note of completion of an internship on a student's transcript.
"The shorthand 'credit for internships' is misleading," said Judd. "This is applying for a very narrow category of internships. It only applies to internships that require academic credit as a condition of taking the internship."
While discussing a policy change the CEP took the policies of Bowdoin's peer schools into consideration.
"We looked at a range of policies at a variety of institutions...on the continuum of no credit for internships unless it was an independent study, to institutions that always require credit," said Judd. "We looked at what places were looking for academic credit, [and] what it is they were asking."
Under the old policy, students could not pursue internships that required academic credit unless the internship was incorporated into an independent study the folowing semester.
"There are a lot of internships that the [Career Planning Center] need to make a disclaimer about to Bowdoin students unless they were made into an independent study," said Judd. "There were other cases where students were far down the road when they made the discovery of this requirement. So all those internships now become opportunities."
CEP member and Associate Professor of Government and Asian Studies Henry Laurence headed the discussion on the policy. Laurence said he believes that this policy is the most that the College can possibly do to make these types of internships available.
"I would be very uncomfortable having students get course credit for an internship when the College really has very little oversight over what happens," said Laurence. "We can recognize that they are good opportunities but they are not the same thing as being in a class. We didn't want to take someone else's word for it in terms of them putting it towards course credits."
Both faculty members and dean's office administrators expressed concern that course credit for internships would demean the legitimacy of a Bowdoin degree.
"Internships are about gaining experience that goes beyond what you're doing with your 32 credits at Bowdoin," said Judd. "Internships are valuable experience and complimentary to what students do. We want to make it available to everyone but it's not a central part of what the degree is doing."
Laurence agreed and added that while students have been pushing for a way to be able to take internships that require credit there has been no call for course credit to be added.
"I don't hear that clamor by students perhaps because at least some of the students I speak with recognize the value of a Bowdoin degree comes with the institution," said Laurence. "We think this is a formula that allows us to help without sacrificing academic credibility."
In addition to this measure the CEP also passed a proposal first mentioned two weeks ago regarding the language surrounding first year seminars in the student course catalogue and the Faculty Handbook. Both the catalogue and the handbook will now contain identical statements of purpose and structure of first year seminars.
"What we think it does is capture more accurately the spirit of first-year seminars than the current listing in the faculty handbook. And now the faculty and handbook and the catalogue will say the same thing," said Judd. "It highlights for students that freshman seminars are based in a discipline, that they are a small group experience and that they are intensive in reading and writing."
A concern with the previous structure of guidelines in the faculty handbook was that certain departments were discouraged from offering first year seminars because of the long list of assessment requirements. Judd hopes, however, that the altered statements will broaden the way first-year seminars are able to be taught.
"It takes the guidelines that were already outlined in the faculty handbook and puts them into a specific statement. It felt like we had moved ever more to a list of the things contained it was easy for that to become a checklist rather than 'here are our goals for first-year seminars'," said Judd. "We do hope that faculty members who felt in the past that courses they were offering would not meet the requirements of a first year seminar do in fact meet the requirements."