Working Group on Curricular Planning for Academic Year 2020-21


After the Spring 2020 campus closure in response to the pandemic, President Mandel announced plans to establish two working groups to identify and assess the practical implications of our choices for the Fall 2020 term: to open for a conventional semester, or pursue other options. 

An ad hoc Academic Continuity Planning Group generated various potential scenarios, further input was then solicited from across the college community, and the main alternatives were discussed in the May faculty meeting.

After careful deliberation, the college has now determined that the academic year in 2020–21 will have the following structure, whether instruction is offered on campus or remotely:

  • There will be two full-length semesters.
  • Winter Study will be canceled for January 2021.
  • Students will only be required to take three courses per semester.
  • Class sizes will be reduced wherever possible. 

President Mandel will announce a decision about whether the fall semester will be conducted with students on campus or remotely by July 1. 

The working group on curricular planning is charged with developing a plan to implement the necessary changes to the curriculum in order to accommodate this structure, with specific attention to remote learning. Among the key areas that the group will consider are:

  • Curricular offerings, modes of instruction, and class hours
  • Timelines and procedures for curricular revisions and student registration
  • Policies and procedures concerning student leaves of absence
  • Process for potential changes to academic requirements
  • Special considerations for first-year students
  • Support for students and faculty in a remote learning environment

The group will coordinate its efforts in several areas with the Working Group on Returning for Fall 2020.

The goal throughout is to develop a plan that will allow departments and programs to offer a version of the curriculum that emphasizes, to the greatest extent possible, the central features of a Williams education: close interaction between students and faculty, breadth and depth of course offerings, and a commitment to innovative and diverse modes of instruction and learning.

Share your ideas with the committee

Working group for curricular planning 2020-21

  • Robert Baker-White ’80, Professor of Theatre
  • Edan Dekel, Chair and Professor of Classics and Chair of Jewish Studies Program (co-chair)
  • Kath Dunlop, Registrar
  • Onder Kilinc ’23
  • Barron Koralesky, Chief Information Officer
  • Gretchen Long, Professor of History and Faculty Fellow of the Davis Center and the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Tiku Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of the Science Center
  • Gabby Martin ’21
  • Carolyn Miles, Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Associate Director of Athletics for Student Athlete Services
  • Jonathan Miller, Director of Libraries
  • Ngonidzashe Munemo, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Christopher Sewell ’05, Associate Dean of the College
  • Janneke van de Stadt, Chair of German and Russian and Professor of Russian
  • G.L.M. Wallace, Director of Accessible Education
  • Safa Zaki, Professor of Psychology, Chair of Cognitive Science Program, and incoming Dean of the Faculty (co-chair)