Trinity’s Department and Program Addition Thesis and Evidence Proposal

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If you were to compare the curriculum of Trinity College in 1930 to Trinity’s curriculum now in 2012, you would notice that they looked almost nothing alike.  In the 1930 curriculum, you would see no mention of “Computer Science,” “Women, Gender, and Sexuality,” or even “International Relations,” and you would see over twenty new departments and programs.  Over time, higher education institutions, including Trinity College, add departments and programs to their curriculum, and many reflect current events at the time of the department/program’s implementation.  From 1930 to 2012, Trinity College has introduced several departments and programs to its curriculum, and many of these implementations reflect major historical changes outside of the college.

One of the most profound influences of department/program additions to Trinity College is the United States’ wars and other international affairs.  In 1949, Trinity added a “Military Science” department.[1] This department’s implementation coincided with the Cold War which lasted from 1945 to 1991[2].  It also was added five years after the implementation of the GI Bill (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) which gave money to World War II veterans for a variety of uses, one of which was tuition to college.[3] Trinity’s implementation of Military Science reflects the student-veterans on campus and the status of the Cold War.  Prior to the addition of the Military Science department, Trinity had not had any military-related departments or courses.

The department Military Science only lasted for one year at Trinity, but was replaced by the new department “Air Science and Tactics” in 1950.[4] This department held courses relating to the military and to air science knowledge (such as airplane function and using airplanes and other such pieces of equipment in the military).  At this time in history, airplane technology was advancing rapidly.  During World War II countries invested heavily in airplane technology, and used these pieces of technology in the war, such as airplane-detecting radar, radiowave navigation techniques, airborne radar, and the first practical jet fighter.[5] Following the war, the US broke the sound barrier with a jet (1947) and the first jet-powered commercial aircraft was built (1949).[6] The combination of air space technology and the Cold War sparked Trinity’s implementation of its Air Science and Tactics department.

In Trinity’s 1965-1966 school year, the Air Space and Tactics department became “Aerospace Studies.”  Aerospace studies incorporated material on outer space studies into the air science curriculum.[7] Meanwhile off campus, the US was engaged in the “Space Race” with the Soviet Union at this time.  Beginning in 1957 with the Soviet Union’s infamous Sputnik, the Space Race was an American focal point for the next eighteen years, with its most intense years from 1957 to 1969.  Because of America’s large investment in “winning” the Space Race (“from 1961 to 1964, NASA’s budget was increased almost 500 percent”[8]), it is no surprise that higher education establishments invested in it as well.  Shortly after the US landed in the moon in 1969, Trinity subtracted its aerospace program before the start of the 1971-1972 school year.[9]

International affairs were not the only influences on Trinity’s addition of departments and programs.  In the 1997-1998 school year, Trinity made it evident that domestic affairs had a significant influence as well when it added “Courses Related to Gay and Lesbian Studies.”[10] In the 1990’s there was a surge of homosexual rights activism sparked by occurrences such as the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993[11], Baehr v. Lewin (1993) in which the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage but the state’s legislature overruled the ruling (sparking great controversy)[12], and Romer v. Evans (1996) in which Colorado guaranteed gays and lesbians protections against discrimination.[13] Student activism on Trinity’s campus reflected the atmosphere in America.  In 1993 and 1997 Trinity students spoke up and stood up for gay and lesbian rights by holding protests, such as the Long Walk March for gay support in 1993[14]; creating student groups, such as E.R.O.S. which dealt with gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues[15]; and writing opinion pieces for/to the Tripod (which includes several articles).  With so much energy around the gay rights movement in the 90s, Trinity was right on the ball with adding Gay and Lesbian Studies.
Another inevitable addition to Trinity’s curriculum was “Computer Science”.  Computers had been in progress before Trinity added their computer courses in the 1975-1976 school year, but computers did not become consumer-accessible until one full school year before these courses were actually implemented.  In 1974/75, the first consumer computers were introduced,[16] thus starting the world’s computer hype.  In the 1975-1976 school year, Trinity officially added a “Computing Coordinate Major”[17] which would come to be known as “Computer Science” in later years.

It is safe to say that every department and program that arrives at Trinity got there for a specific reason.    By looking at the historical context in which the department is placed, we can gain excellent insight as to the department/program’s roots.  Trinity always has been and always will be affected by the world outside of its campus.  Who knows what departments we will see next?

[1] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1949

[2] Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant. 13th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.

[3] Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant. 13th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.

[4] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1950

[5] National Academy of Engineering. “Airplane Timeline – Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century.” Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century, 2012.

[6] National Academy of Engineering. “Airplane Timeline – Greatest Engineering Achievements of the Twentieth Century.” Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century, 2012.

[7] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1965-1966

[8] “The Space Race.” The History Channel Website, 2012.

[9] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1971-1972

[10] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1997-1998

[11] “The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline.” Infoplease, 2011.

[12] Head, Tom. “The American Gay Rights Movement – A Short History.” – Civil Liberties, 2012.

[13] “The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline.” Infoplease, 2011.

[14] Sullivan, Paul. “Long Walk March Supports Gays.” The Trinity Tripod, May 4, 1993, Vol XCI No.22 edition.

[15] Genco, Beth. “E.R.O.S. Formed to Deal With All Sexual Preferences.” The Trinity Tripod, March 30, 1993, Vol. XCI No. 18 edition.

[16] Bellis, Mary. “The History of Computers.” – Inventors, 2012.

[17] “Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut Bulletin”, 1975-1976

3 thoughts on “Trinity’s Department and Program Addition Thesis and Evidence Proposal”

  1. I really like this topic, its interesting to see what sort of value judgments go into deciding a school’s curriculum. If its feasible, maybe looking at changes in other school’s curriculums (local schools, other NESCAC schools, etc.) might add an interesting comparative element, but again, I’m not sure how feasible that would be. Furthermore the 82 year window might be too large, especially since the most major of changes probably began with the early portions of the Civil Rights movement and the Cold War, so maybe tailoring the time window to 1950ish-2012 could help. Overall, the question is clear, the research tools are easy-to-use (from our assignment) and I’m looking forward to seeing whether the changes, or lack thereof, fit into any outside or inside stereotypes of Trinity as a whole. Enjoy living at the Watkinson!

  2. Danyelle,
    Your topic definitely interests me because it’s so close to my own, but I like what you have done so far with focusing on the important/generation-specific changes. The only thing I noticed was that it seemed kind of listy, so if you could just build a stronger transition between the subjects, that would make it stronger (in my opinion). I would also have to agree with George and say that you might find stronger evidence if you narrowed your window of data. If you did decide to narrow down the years that you’re deriving your evidence from, I would base it off the data you have, and choose the section of years that provides the most support to your essay so that you know you have enough. Good luck!

  3. Danyelle,
    I think you are off to a great start! I really like how you connected the additions in the curriculum at Trinity to the events that were taking place in the outside world. I found it very insightful to read, and your paper will allow one to understand why Trinity includes certain courses and departments of study in its curriculum as opposed to others. I agree with George and Devon that it might be a little bit overwhelming to cover such a big time span. Maybe if you just covered the changes in the curriculum from 1930 to 1980 when the college was really developing that would be a little less overwhelming. It appears as though huge changes were being made in the curriculum as the college developed, with the inclusion of black studies courses and courses designed for women when the college became a co-education college. So maybe if you just covered those years that would help you narrow down your research. However, I really liked how you decided to focus on three departments that are all very different and will provide a view of a broader range of the curriculum. Overall this draft is extremely well written and I enjoyed reading it!

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