AI and academic freedom addressed at Academic Senate meeting


New executive secretary Pamela Blackford (left) directs the presentation for the her first academic senate meeting, and the first academic senate meeting of 2023 on Jan. 17 in French Auditorium.

At Tuesday's academic senate meeting, artificial intelligence interference with academic integrity, as well as the importance of academic freedom were on the table. 

President Bob Davies started his joint report to the senate with a statement about academic freedom to address the actions taken recently at Hamline University

At Hamline, a private university in Minnesota, a professor of a world arts course was dismissed after displaying a photo of the Prophet Muhammad, which was problematic for at least one Muslim student. 

In response, Davies gave a statement to the Academic Senate. 

In his statement, Davies said it is important that faculty are able to address controversial topics, but should provide a forewarning to students if a topic would prevent the students from learning or engaging with the class. 

The full statement from Davies can be accessed by clicking on the document below: 

AI In the Classroom 

In her report to the senate, Provost Nancy Mathews presented the problem of academic dishonesty via artificial intelligence sources like ChatGPT. 

She said professors should be having conversations with their classes about academic integrity, and warning against the use of AI technology to complete assignments.

“Last semester there were some cases of use of AI,” Matthews said. 

Matthews said professors usually identified papers written by AI programs because of a dramatic change in content quality. 

She also said this may lead to more in-class writing assignments, instead of online submissions outside of class.

Curriculum Changes and Chemistry 141

Chemistry 141, or Chemistry for Engineers, was part of a series of approved course changes for engineering degrees. 

Curriculum for a Bachelors of Science in computer engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering will now only require a student to take Chemistry 141 instead of two other chemistry courses.

This is set to go into effect for the Fall 2023 semester. 

Other curriculum changes include:

  • The addition of a “drone regulations, operations, and applications” undergraduate certificate, 
  • A Bachelors of Science in education certificate in early childhood and elementary education,
  • And a Bachelors of Science in education secondary standard certificate.

The Academic Senate meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the French Auditorium. Livestreams and recordings of each meeting are available on the senate website.