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Ergo | Spring 2016

It Takes Two

Richard Aquila and John Nolt confer

We (Richard Aquila and John Nolt) became interim co-heads of the department last summer when David Reidy completed his five-year term as head.  Richard changed his post-retirement plans to serve in this position. We are short-timers, expecting that the department will do an external head search this coming year, so that there will be new leadership starting fall 2017.  Our impression of the job at first was, and continues to be, that it is plenty for two people.  Frankly, we don't know how David managed it singlehandedly.

At the time of our appointment, the dean and provost asked us to accomplish several goals.  One of these was to expand shared governance in the department.  To this end, we have increased the number of department meetings (not a uniformly popular policy) and included lecturers in many of them.  We were also asked to create a new plan for supervision of lecturers that provides career-ladder opportunities.  Richard has spearheaded that effort.

In accord with UT's increasing emphasis on "experience learning," we will pilot two new service-learning courses next year.  The first of these, on Social Justice, will be taught in the fall by Sarah Harper.  It will offer students a unique opportunity to learn about social justice by working with marginalized populations and social change organizations in the Greater Knoxville community.  The second, on Sustainability Ethics, will be taught by Matt Pamental next spring.  It will provide hands-on experience with the problems of sustainability by placing students with local environmentally-oriented partner organizations.  If these pilot courses succeed, we hope to make them regular courses, and perhaps incorporate them into the new General Education Curriculum.

Finally, we are encouraging members of the department to envision options for its future in preparation for the hiring of a new head next year.  We hope to soon come to some consensus on the outlines of that future and on a list of qualifications for the new leader we will be seeking next year.

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