Call to Order

The regular meeting for the DTSA was called to order at 6:35pm on December 11, 2020 via Zoom.



  • Taylor Culbert (President)
  • Ryan McKinney (Officer of Curriculum and Exams)
  • Ruijiao Dong (GC Representative)
  • Joned Suryatmoko (Officer of Professionalization)
  • Maria Litvan (Second Vice President)
  • Jasmeene Francois (First Vice President)
  • Jacquelyn Marie Shannon (Secretary-Treasurer)
  • Adam El Sayigh (International Student’s Representative)
  • Kiera Bono (Officer of Awards and Admissions)
  • Cen Liu (Officer of Digital Initiatives)



  • Gracia Shin (DSC Representative)


Approval of Agenda

TC motioned to approve the agenda. Agenda was unanimously approved as distributed.


Approval of Minutes

TC motioned to approve the minutes. Minutes approved.




President, Taylor Culbert
  • We held the WIP day on Friday – it went really well and we had great presentations and discussions. The Anti-Racism Committee held their first meeting a few weeks ago. The open exec and end-of-semester party will be on Tuesday 12/15. We’re going to have a pictionary room, a dance party room, and a hanging out room at the party. Jess, Jasmeene, and I will host the rooms. 


First Vice President, Jasmeene Francois
  • Nothing to report


Second Vice President, Maria Litvan
  • Met with Diana Taylor. Next step: create a committee for the 2021 Booth Award and start fundraising,


Secretary-Treasurer, Jacquelyn Shannon
  • Affirmed that the program allocation money ($280) is for this semester (not the whole year). They will design and approve a budget again for next semester.
  • Update from the DSC via Gracia (see report below)
  • (Note – what money does not get spent this semester will likely go towards the Spring semester instead, provided there are no drastic cuts to the DGSC budget.)


Digital Initiatives Officer, Cen Liu
  • Posted minute from last time
  • I wonder if there is a way to get a list of the gc emails of the students in the department. Then I can add everyone to the DTSA resource exchange


Professionalization Representative, Joned Suryatmoko
  • Jean, Jim, Deeps and I had a meeting in mid-November to discuss potential topics for Spring 2021. Workshop on developing teaching dossier, networking and publishing, preparing First Exams, as well as topics on maintaining our well being will be included. Alt ac career as suggested will also be in the calendar, especially through students experience in public-facing scholarship and artistic practice. Topics about alternative funding will not be included, rather Deeps and I will develop a survey (and database?) to provide such information in our program.
  • In this case, Jean will be with us next semester. Deep will provide her support by hosting all Professionalization Events Spring 2021 as I might not be in the US for the whole semester. I will send the announcement to the DTSA group and provide reports to the DTSA board. Thanks to Deeps, for the support.


Admission and Awards Representative, Kiera Bono 
  • Nothing to report


Curriculum and Exams Representative, Ryan McKinney
  • I updated Erika on our discussion regarding surveys and course evaluations from our 10/30 DTSA meeting. Based on feedback from the DTSA, the program will move forward with creating three surveys to gather targeted student feedback – one for Level I, one for Level II and one for Level III. It will be a substantial amount of labor to set up the surveys but once they are set up, the upkeep should be minimal. The program will also create electronic course evaluations, with narrative questions, including a question that addresses the decolonizing of course materials (exact language on this question needs to be determined/discussed at some point). Erika and Ryan will create possible questions for the evaluations to present to the curriculum committee in February. Lastly, the curriculum committee met on Wednesday, 12/9 to discuss course offerings for 2021-2022, as well as initiatives to lessen the time that students spend at Level II and to streamline the dissertation proposal process. I have been asked to discuss these initiatives at our 12/11 DTSA meeting and to then provide feedback to Peter, Erika and the Curriculum Committee. 


International Student Representative, Adam El Sayigh
  • Nothing to report


DSC Program Representative, Gracia Shin
  • I went to DGSC plenary meetings on Nov 21.I have uploaded meeting minutes abridged for the DTSA meetings here. 
  • I also further communicated with Adam (the Co-Chair for Business) about our program allocation budget. Here is Adam’s final reply about the allocation amount: 
  • “Based off of your program’s enrollment, your budget total is $280. However, please note that, due to the leftover funds from last semester, we have decided to double your Fall semester program allocation to $560, in an effort to provide student representatives with the resources to best serve their departments in the ways they see fit.”


Graduate Council and Alumni Engagement Representative, Ruijiao Dong 
  • Nothing to report




Question about DTSA funding – Taylor
  • K: It should roll over from fall to spring semester
  • T: We will probably be able to fund the Booth award and Conference a bit more than we anticipated but will wait until spring to confirm, just in case there are changes or cuts due to the pandemic.


Curriculum Committee – Ryan 
    • RM: Had a curriculum committee meeting on Wednesday, discussed a number of things but most important they wanted feedback from the DTSA on a couple of initiatives that are really student-focused and may really help students as they move through the program
    • RM: Priority for Peter and Erika to bring before the curriculum committee in February for a vote and then bring it before the entire program at the open executive meeting in May so that it would be policy for the program starting next fall
    • RM: Two initiatives on the table: 
  • Proposal 1: timeline for exam timing 
      • amount of time students spend at the level 2 stage
      • the big thing here is condensing the submission of the field statements and the book lists and consolidating them into one so that they would be submitted at the same time, and changing when they would be submitted
      • the sequencing for moving through level 2 as it works now is not realistic 
      • Proposed new model: 
        • If a student were to pass their 1st exam in August, they would submit both the field statements and the book list around January 20th so that when the exam committee is meeting to give the 1st and 2nd exams at the start of the semester, they would also review the field statements and book lists at the same time. 
        • Students would then be notified relatively close to the start of the semester and then on a fast-track they could take the 2nd exam the following August
        • R: What I like most about it is that if that didn’t happen, if you did not take the exam this August, you would then take it in January and could still stay on track
        • Basically just having the field statements and book lists submitted at the same time and changing the due dates, so we don’t have mid-semester due dates in November and April like we used to. They would now be due dates closer to the start of each semester

  • Proposal 2: the dissertation proposal
    • We’re trying to establish language that basically supports what is already in the handbook, which specifies for approximately a 9-12 page dissertation proposal
    • Many who have taken advanced research know that the diss proposal has become something in the ballpark of 30-50 pages and are becoming these massive documents
    • Faculty are saying that all of that additional information should be put into the actual dissertation, rather than making it part of the proposal
    • Proposed new model: 
      • 9-12 pages
      • Recommended word count for each section (for example, a recommended word count for methodology, lit review, chapter breakdown; etc)


  • The other reason behind this is that doing a 9-12 page document is what most graduate students are going to need for grant funding and for 6th year funding
  • What has been challenging is that students are having to condense these larger proposals for grant applications. So the idea is to try and align the requirements and recommendations with that of funding sources in order to help students
  • Faculty also feels that writing and being able to talk about your work

in this focused and condensed way is going to be asked of students on the job market. 

  • T: This sounds good and makes a lot of sense. Need to keep in mind that this could be a lot different for people who are still doing coursework. Students who are taking 2-4 courses are not going to be able to take the 2nd exam a year later. Realistically, to read 80 books you need to have at least one full semester out of coursework in order to do that.
  • RM: Totally, and Peter did stress this as well. None of this is mandated, they just want it to be an option and they recognize that the way things are structured right now is impeding some students. There is no mandate for how students move through level 2. 
  • Joned: Agree with Taylor that it is very difficult to prepare for the 2nd exam if you are still in course work. I spoke to Peter about the idea of preparing for the 2nd exam at the same time that you are developing your dissertation proposal, because basically the 2nd exam is the booklist for the dissertation. 
  • T: As someone taking the 2nd exam this winter, good luck reading 80 books and writing your dissertation proposal at the same time. Not going to happen. You have ideas percolating but you aren’t going to get any writing done.
  • M: Unless you already have a clear idea for your dissertation it is unrealistic.
  • RD: I agree with Taylor, but also while going through my book list and thinking about my proposal, some books on my list are totally irrelevant to both of them. Maybe I have an opportunity to cut 5 books from my list.
  • RM: You can swap books out, but not cut the number of books.
  • RM: Maybe writing the book lists and the field statements at the same time will inform that process differently.

  • RM: The overall goal that Peter is stressing is to give students something that is realistic to finish in 5 years. 


Open Exec Report – Taylor 
  • Will be making a report on the DTSA with a short summary of what we’ve done this semester
  • The anti-racism committee will have their own support
  • RM: Related: if the DTSA is interested, once Peter writes up the language for handbook revisions (discussed prior), he offered to come to the first DTSA meeting in the spring and share with us so that we can talk it through before it goes to the curriculum committee for approval


Admission and Awards – Kiera
  • K: It seems like we have a lot of interest
  • K: Tried to get the word out to as many folks as possible
  • K: Still meeting with lots of prospective students
  • K: Open house seemed to go well


Booth Award – Maria
  • Have not announced the Booth Award recipient to the general population yet, will probably wait until the beginning of the next semester 
  • Event won’t take place until early May
  • T: You should announce now who won
  • RM: Could announce at the open exec meeting 
  • M: Will send an email now and then start to announce more as details come together
  • T: Need to talk to Peter about the idea you had for an in person component
  • M: I have spoke to him but will speak again with rules and regulations in mind


Last notes:

We were awarded funding – Ruijao
  • RD: We did get the co-lab funding (½), Erika will send out an email


Digital Initiatives 
  • T: Patricia should be able to get Cen the email list of people in the program.


Spring Get-together
  • M: we should try to organize some kind of get-together in the spring
  • JF: Will add to the list
  • JF: End of semester party will include games and a dance party



Meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:06 pm.