Programme Council meeting Monday 4 November 2013
Present: Hilde Henriksen Waage (chair), Håvard Strand, Jon Hovi, Magne Rønningen, Liva Rugsveen, Samuel Håkansson and Vegard Berggård (notetaker).
Reading of Agenda
The agenda was approved. The next meeting will be held in English.
7/13: Review of PECOS4010 – Orientation by Håvard Strand
PECOS4010 is up for major revision. The course suffers from a number of issues. PECOS4010 is fragmented, and it is difficult for students for understand the overarching theme of the class; how different lectures relate to one another; or how this class relates to the rest of the Master. In addition, the class partially overlaps with Lundestad’s class, and it is difficult to see how this class is useful in integrating political science and history perspectives into a common ground for PECOS students.
In revising PECOS4010, these shortcomings must be dealt with. The PECOS coordinator will present a plan for a revised class at the next Council meeting. Changes will be implemented gradually, and this issue will be discussed on several upcoming council meetings.
The overarching theme of the revised class will be the continuum between the general and the idiosyncratic. The main focus will be on empirical research, as opposed to normative research, to build a solid platform between Political Science and History. Peace and Conflict will be the red thread throughout the lecture series, but the perspectives will differ from the large, long-trend picture to the complexities of a single case. It is also a key goal that the research frontier should be made visible in various ways throughout the class, both within history and political science.
The first change, to be implemented this fall, is that the coordinator will hold the first and last lecture in an attempt to bring the curriculum together. A number of current and new lecturers are begin approached to see if they can contribute to the course, but no firm commitments have been given so far.
The council was generally positive, but several (JH, HHW, LR) raised concerns that external lecturers might prove difficult to integrate into a strict scheme. Adherence to the overall plan must take precedence above the wish to invite big names.
8/13: Periodic programme evaluation i 2014 – Orientation by Håvard Strand
Periodic programme evaluation is part of the Faculty quality control framework. Each programme is subject to a review every six years, and PECOS is scheduled soon. The details have yet to be decided, but it is very likely that this will happen next fall. There are several good reasons to do this: We have just changed coordinator, and we have recently implemented a major reorganization of the whole programme.
PECOS must provide a report, which will form the basis for an external review by a UIO employee not affiliated with the programme and a fully external peer. The previous process derailed, something that underscores the importance of the upcoming process. Jostein Askim has recently overseen several programme evaluations, and we will utilize his experiences.
Core issues in this process will be recruiting and throughput, student’s subjective impression of quality and post-exam job relevance. These issues must be monitored.
The larger problem is the very low rate by which students finish on time. The 2011 class performed very poorly in this regard. The reasons why remain unclear, but three possible answers appear likely: Exit due to a favorable job opportunity; Delay due to unfavorable part-time work, and illness. We need more information about this to construct precise counter-measures and to learn if this is part of a general trend or constitutes a PECOS idiosyncrasy.
We can also exploit differences between IAKH and STV to identify particularly useful approaches. One such measure would be group-based supervision. Past experiences with these methods are split, as the positive effects of group interaction and shared learning outcomes are potentially outweighed by the inability to be blunt towards individuals.
The Student Council is working on a survey among PECOS students that might shed some light on how students view the quality of the program, what encumbers their academic progress, and what measures they would like to see implemented.
The final issue of job relevance might be more difficult to gauge. The student council reports poor, and most likely biased, responses to emails on this topic. An alternative might be to utilize social networks, such as LinkedIn.
9/13: HIS4421 War, Peace and the Nobel Peace Prize – Orientation by Magne Rønningen
Geir Lundestad will soon retire. We do not wish to close down the course HIS4421, and we will therefore ask Lundestad to continue providing the course. If he does not wish to continue providing it, we will ask someone else.
Live Rugsveen and Samuel Håkanson presented some dissatisfaction among the students about the seminars in HIS4421. They expressed that there is a lack of coherence between the lectures and the seminars in the course, and that the seminars seem irrelevant.
Magne Rønningen said that there have been frequent replacements among the teachers in the seminars, the last years. The Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History will look at how the seminars may be approved.
10/13: From the Student Representatives
A wish for a seminar in PECOS4021
There is a strong wish for seminars in the course PECOS4021 – Research Methods, among the students.
Håvard Strand stated that there are not enough resources for a seminar in PECOS4021.
Confusion surrounding the history track
The student representatives expressed that there is considerable confusion among the students, when it comes to the relationship between the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History (IAKH) and the Department of Political Science (ISV). As a result, it is seen as filled with risks to choose the history track.
11/13: Towards a PECOS Strategy, Håvard Strand
The initial rationale behind the decision to establish PECOS is not documented, and nor are there any other form of documentation present that can function as an overarching guidance for the programme.
A process towards a PECOS strategy document could help the programme become more focused and increase the quality of the programme and its students. This document should outline some overarching goals, plans for achieving these goals and ideas for how this attainment could be validated.
Key to this is to strengthen the relationship between IAKH and STV. It was decided to establish a task force, which should meet once every six weeks. The committee should consist of the PECOS Coordinator, representatives for IAKH and STV, and a student representative.
12/13: Suggestions for the date and time of the next meeting, spring 2014
We will agree on the date and time of the next meeting, in March.