A few days before classes started, Cognitive Studies professor Charlie Seltzer informed me that because of budget cuts, Cognitive Studies is one of the academic programs potentially on the chopping block.
I’m not a part of the Cognitive Studies department, but I am firmly opposed to the idea that the program should be cut. I took Cognitive Studies 110 with Dr. Seltzer last semester, and I can say without hesitation that it was one of the most valuable classes I have taken during my college career. The course taught me to think about how the brain works in a way that increased my understanding of myself and others and to consider many of the topics discussed in my other courses, including religious faith, social mores, and the aesthetic appeal of poetry. And isn’t that the purpose of any class to broaden one’s perspective not just in the particular discipline one is studying but across the curriculum?
I appreciated the course for another reason as well: Dr. Seltzer taught the class with enthusiasm, and his passion for the subject encouraged the students to participate fully in all class discussions and labs. This impressed me greatly because on the first day of class, many of the students admitted that they were only taking the course to fulfill the Natural Sciences Liberal Education Requirement. By the end of the semester, those students were enthusiastically sharing the results of the independent cognitive experiments we performed for our final projects and raving about what we had learned.
The fact that students who were “only in the class for the LER” got excited about the material proves that Cognitive Studies is a course that truly encompasses Goucher’s well-known campaign of “Transcending Boundaries.” The course may have started as a means to an end for many of the students, but it went far beyond that—it encouraged individual thought that connected to every aspect of every student’s life, and that made students care about the course.
I understand that many of Goucher’s courses encourage critical thinking and that their teachings extend beyond the classroom, and I know budget shortages require cuts that are rarely ideal; however, I believe that Cognitive Studies 110 is one of the most powerful courses offered at Goucher, and I can’t just watch the department get cut.
If you are a Cognitive Studies minor or you have taken a Cognitive Studies course and you agree that the course is too valuable to cut, you can write to our Provost, Dr. Marc Roy, and you can spread the word about the possible cut. Tell everyone you know, and don’t let Cognitive Studies get cut because of budget issues.