Committee on Educational Affairs (CEA)

The CEA evaluates and implements changes in the curriculum, both graduate and undergraduate. Here is more information about the duties and membership of the CEA.

  • The curricular review process begins in mid-December.

    Chairs and Administrative Assistants will receive an email at that time with information about procedures as well as links to collaborative Google documents and spreadsheets.

    Due February 1: Major Revisions

    2018-2019 Catalog Status

    Which courses will be removed from your unit's list of offered courses?

    • Indicate status of each course on the Unit Curriculum spreadsheet:
      • Offered 2018-19
      • Not Offered
      • Deactivate (coded as "Inactive in PeopleSoft—course will not be listed in catalog or on unit site)
    • We will request scheduling information (Fall, Spring, Fall/Spring) in February.
    • Some interdisciplinary listings will not have a spreadsheet.

    The workbook has two spreadsheets:

    • Catalog Status (can edit)
    • All course offerings, including "new", "previously discontinued", and "substantially revised" (view only)

    The spreadsheet of course offerings is for reference, and is updated regularly. If you see any errors or discrepancies, email [email protected] and our office will make corrections.

    Curricular Revisions Report

    Please prepare the annual Curricular Revisions Report (fka Course Package) for the CEA. All significant changes to the unit's curriculum should be included in this report (the CEA should have been alerted to any changes prior to receiving them).

    Examples (including but not limited to) of changes in major, concentration, or honors program:

    • Number of courses required for major or concentration.
    • Changes in specific courses required.
    • Changes and/or additions to prerequisites for core courses.
    • Additions of or changes in non-course requirements (e.g. colloquium).

    You received links to your unit's Google spreadsheet and document in an email. If you need this information again, email [email protected].

    Email [email protected] by February 1 and let us know the Unit Curriculum spreadsheet and Curricular Revisions Report are complete—be sure to save copies of both the spreadsheet and document for your records. The Registrar's Office and the CEA have access to the collaborative spreadsheet and document, so there is no need to email attachments.

    New/Substantially Revised/Previously Discontinued Courses

    Courses that need to be submitted via the online Course form and reviewed by the CEA:

    •       New
    •       Substantially revised
    •       Previously discontinued

    All faculty should review the Course Submission Checklist prior to submitting a course to ensure submissions are complete and adhere to established guidelines.

    Course form submissions will automatically:

    • Be forwarded to chairs and if applicable, the unit's administrative assistant.
    • Feed into the spreadsheet of course offerings.

    ​For current faculty, please submit new/substantially revised/previously discontinued courses by February 1. For pending hires, courses should be submitted as soon as possible so those can be included in the catalog for April pre-registration.

    Due March 2: Minor Revisions

    Any changes that do not require CEA/Faculty approval (this includes the “masthead” and course descriptions) are considered minor revisions.

    Study Away guidelines (if applicable) had previously been presented as a link to a separate PDF in the department's masthead. For the purpose of clarity these guidelines are now included​ directly in the text. Please review the information carefully for accuracy and incorporate appropriately into the masthead.

    ​New Courses
    New/substantially revised/previously discontinued course submissions are currently being reviewed by the CEA, therefore they are not included in the provided document. Once these courses have been finalized they will be incorporated in the 2018-19 catalog and you will have the opportunity for a final proof before the catalog goes live.

    ​Secondary Cross-listings
    There is no need to review courses that are indicated as "Secondary Cross-listing" other than confirmation that the cross-listing(s) were approved.

    Offered 2018-19/Not Offered
    You may notice that offering information has not been included—once course descriptions are finalized then the Registrar's Office is able to collate courses​ with class hours​/​instructor information and use this material to produce your department’s ​complete ​ catalog listing. ​In the final version we will ask you to proof, courses will then appear as either "not offered" or ​​reflect the schedule information provided on your class hours spreadsheet.

    Email [email protected] by March 2 and let us know the edits are complete—be sure to save a copy for your records. The Registrar's Office has access to the collaborative document, so there is no need to email an attachment.

    Due March 2: Class Hours

    For information about class hours:

    • Please refer to the email with the subject line “Class Hour Requests 2018-19"
    • Class Hour instructions can also help guide you through the process.

Course Submission Guide

Information about requirements and policies as they pertain to course descriptions.

  • WI requirement catalog description.

    All Williams College students take TWO WI courses as part of their distribution requirement.

    WI courses require a minimum of 20 pages of writing and have a maximum enrollment of 19 to allow the instructor to devote appropriate attention to writing over the course of the semester.

    A WI course might require four or five five-page papers, spaced so that the comments on each essay would be available to the student to improve the next. A course could require a one-page paper, then a three-page paper, then a five-page paper, then a 10-15 page paper. A course might also require one or two relatively short papers or exercises leading to a more lengthy (15-20 page) paper as long as issues of writing and argumentation are addressed through drafts, conferences, class discussions, or other means throughout the semester.

    Unit-Level Discussions and WI Designation

    WI designation is determined by unit chairs in consultation with faculty seeking this designation. Syllabi and course descriptions for WI courses must include an explanation of how the course fulfills the purpose of the WI requirement.

  • DPE requirement catalog description.

    All Williams College students take ONE DPE course as part of their distribution requirement.

    Further Explanation for Faculty

    There are three main axes upon which the DPE requirement hinges: the centrality of DPE themes and ideas throughout a course; a balance of DPE-related content and DPE-related skills; and consideration and agreement of a DPE designation at the unit level.

    The Centrality of DPE-Related Themes

    Students should know why a course in which they are enrolled is a DPE course. In the course catalog, in the course description, on the syllabus, and in class throughout the semester, instructors of DPE courses should be specific about how the course addresses the issues of difference, power, and equity amongst groups and the nature of the theoretical tools or perspectives used to understand these issues.

    A Critical Balance Between DPE Content and Skill

    It is imperative that DPE courses strike an important and necessary balance between engaging course content and materials that explore various forms of difference, power, and equity, and facilitating the development of skills that will help students address the implications of said forms. Courses may consider current examples, historical examples, or some combination thereof. The focus may be on examples within the US or may be international, but should go beyond exposure to the variety of human experiences and instead foster critical engagement with the practice and experience of difference.

    DPE courses should foster difficult, but carefully framed conversations about how difference works and has worked, how identities and power relationships have been grounded in lived experience, and how one might both critically and productively approach questions of difference, power, and equity. While different DPE courses employ a variety of pedagogical approaches, methodologies, and theoretical perspectives, these courses are uniform in actively promoting a self-conscious and critical engagement with the practice and experience of difference, especially as it relates to the dynamics of power in structuring that experience. The list of themes that could be a possible focus of a DPE course should be taken as a starting point; other areas of difference (ability/disability, body size, national origin, political affiliation, for example) may well suit a DPE course. DPE courses may focus on multiple themes or intersections between them, or may examine only one theme. Faculty proposing DPE courses are encouraged to choose topics and materials they are passionate about.

    DPE courses, like courses that receive the Quantitative/Formal Reasoning (QFR) and Writing-Intensive (WI) designation, are skill-building courses, and as such, should lead to the development of critical faculties that will prepare students to serve society at large. The pedagogical approaches employed vary significantly by discipline and content, but share the key aims of enabling students to 1) understand how power comes to be distributed unequally across difference, and 2) draw informed, responsible judgments about when and how to intervene to change such inequalities.

    Unit-Level Discussions and DPE Designation

    DPE designation is determined by unit chairs in consultation with faculty seeking this designation. Syllabi and course descriptions for DPE courses must include an explanation of how the course fulfills the purpose of the DPE requirement.

    Here are results of a CEA student member survey soliciting topics for DPE courses of particular interest to students.

    Difference, Power, and Equity Catalog Example

  • QFR requirement catalog description.

    All Williams College students take ONE QFR course as part of their distribution requirement.

    QFR courses must have regular and substantial problem sets in which quantitative/formal reasoning skills are practiced and evaluated. Courses which require only a few illustrative problems to be solved, that involve merely plugging numbers into formulae, or that spend only a small portion of the semester on formal skills would not qualify for this designation.

    While qualitative descriptions of scientific and mathematical topics can be worthwhile approaches to a discipline, these are not the main thrust of a QFR course. This is not to say that prose answers can play no role. In order to meet the QFR requirement, a course must clearly emphasize the skills of quantitative and formal reasoning. Translating real world phenomena into a mathematical description, computing quantitative results, and relating those results in words are the sorts of skills we would like to develop in a QFR course.

    Unit-Level Discussions and QFR Designation

    QFR designation is determined by unit chairs in consultation with faculty seeking this designation. Syllabi and course descriptions for QFR courses must include an explanation of how the course fulfills the purpose of the QFR requirement.

  • Enrollment caps, expected enrollments, and enrollment preferences are used by students in selecting courses during preregistration.


    Enrollment caps may not be added or lowered after preregistration for the semester.


    If you have an enrollment cap, you should also include enrollment preference information—who has priority for spaces if the course over-enrolls.

  • Pass/Fail Option policy catalog description.

    By default, any course is available for students to enroll on a graded or pass/fail basis.

    When determining whether or not to offer a course pass/fail, it may be helpful to consult with unit chairs or colleagues.

  • Fifth Course Option policy catalog description.

    By default, any course (except a tutorial) is available for students to enroll as a fifth course.

    Consultation with unit chairs or colleagues may be helpful when determining if a course is not available for the fifth course option.

Annual Reports

Curriculum reports, by division, for faculty review.