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What’s Going To Happen To My GISP?

October 28, 2010

We know you worked long and hard on your proposal, so naturally you want to know what’s even going to happen to it.

Q: What’s happening to my GISP proposal? Is it safe?

When you email your pdf at 4pm Friday, November 5, we log down who’s turned in the proposal on time and collect all of the proposals into a zip file. The zip file of all of the proposals is emailed to the College Curriculum Council GISP Review Subcommittee. This subcommittee is typically composed of two professors, two deans, two students (the GISP coordinators, Arthur and myself), Peggy Chang (The CRC Director) and a representative from the registrar. Dean Kathleen McSharry is the dean that supervises GISPs and we know at least one of the professors is Cognitive Science professor David Sobel.

The GISPs are read in the week that follows and about a week after the proposals are submitted, the subcommittee meets to go over the proposals.

Q: When will I know if my GISP is approved?

Dean McSharry should send you an email letting you know the status of your GISP proposal by two weeks after the proposal is submitted, so by Friday, November 19.

Q: What if my proposal is denied? What if it says I need revisions? What if it says I pass?!

option (1), DENIED: independent study proposals are rarely just denied. Some occasions when they will be flat-out denied are when the subject matter is clearly not academic, rigorous, or serious. The most common reason why a GISP would be denied is if it mirrors another course in the Brown catalog. Remember, GISPs cannot mirror another course in the Brown catalog. Another occasion is when they involve illegal activity. If the proposal is incomplete, has no adviser, and an incomplete syllabus, it will likely be denied.

option (2), REVISED: Most proposals are returned after review with “revisions needed” written on the top of the page. This is because, let’s face it, most things could be better, no? There are a lot of common areas where the subcommittee suggest improvements (ie: extend the final paper, include more reading, make it more academic, be clearer with course structure and goals), and we’ll write a post elaborating on this in the future. If you get this in your email, the best advice is to more or less follow what revisions are made. The only situation we’d suggest not following what the subcommittee has suggested is if you feel the suggestion interferes with the learning goals or content of your course, and you can indicate as much when you re-submit your proposal. The members of the GISP subcommittee will be available by email and in some cases by appointment to talk about their suggestions. And of course, Arthur and I are always around in person (office hours T, Th 1-5), or by email (

option (3), PASSED: Open up a bottle of something tasty, you’re in! Celebrate and chill. In December the registrar will email you the course code for you to register with. And hey, be proud—not many GISPs get passed in the first round. Consider yourself something of a GISP expert.

Q: If my proposal needs revisions, when do I turn the revisions in?

This deadline is not set yet, but it will likely be the first full week of December. At this point, your GISP either passes or fails. The second round pass rate is naturally much higher than the first round pass rate. Historically, if you follow the subcommittee’s suggestions, your GISP will probably be passed unless you (a) really just messed things up to an irreparable degree or (b) didn’t actually turn in your revisions [of which the writer is guilty].

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