Academic Planning

The Three-Year Planning Cycle

As part of a Provostial initiative to increase faculty time available for research and scholarship, the Dean's office works with departments and programs to plan their curriculum, leave schedules, hiring, advising, and service on three-year cycles.  Such medium-range planning will allow Brown's humanities and social science departments to reduce their standard course loads for tenure and tenure-track faculty to three classes per year.  Planning will also improve the University's ability to forecast financial needs and streamline the search approval process.

The planning and course-reduction efforts are undertaken with commitments to transparency and to minimizing the administrative burden on departments and programs. In light of these commitments this page provides recommendations and best practices for multi-year planning, as well as providing information on all of the departments under the Dean of the Faculty to ensure that conversations about multi-year planning and course reduction are informed by accurate information.  

The Planning Process:

Brown uses a web-based planning tool for academic planning.  Instructions for using the tool can be found here

Departments and programs reporting to the Dean of the Faculty will normally be asked to update their three-year plans mid-year, in time to inform the budget process and before courses are due to the registrar.

Brown's Teaching Loads:

Faculty in DOF departments teach from two to six courses per year depending on their rank, department, and individual strengths.  While most departments maintain a single standard load for all tenured and tenure-track faculty, often departments establish a higher teaching load for lecturers, and some departments encourage faculty with less-active research agendas to contribute through additional teaching.  The chart below shows Brown's departmental teaching loads before the course-load reduction as well as the average enrollments per FTE over the past three years, an important factor in understanding the relative burden of teaching obligations.

Unit Division Load
Africana Studies Social Science 3
American Studies Social Science 3
Anthropology Social Science 3
Applied Math Physical Science 2
Chemistry Physical Science 2
Classics Humanities 3
CLPS Life Science 2.5
Comp Lit Humanities 3
Computer Science Physical Science 2
Data Science Physical Science 2
East Asian Studies Humanities 3
Economics Social Science 3
EEPS Physical Science 2.5
Education Social Science 3
Egyptology Humanities 3
English Humanities 3
French Humanities 3
German Humanities 3
Hispanic Studies Humanities 3
History of Art and Arch Humanities 3
History Social Science 3
Environment and Society Social Science 3
Italian Humanities 3
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology Humanities 3
Judaic Studies Humanities 3
Language Studies Humanities 3
Literary Arts Humanities 3
Mathematics Physical Science 3
Modern Culture and Media Humanities 3
Music Humanities 3
Portuguese and Brazilian Humanities 3
Philosophy Humanities 3
Physics Physical Science 2
Political Science Social Science 3
Religious Studies Humanities 3
Slavic Humanities 3
Theatre Humanities 3
Urban Studies Social Science 3
Visual Art Humanities 3
Watson Institute Social Science 3

Frequently Asked Questions:

How should tenured and tenure-track faculty with multiple appointments divide their teaching?

Many faculty have 25% or 50% effort in a second department.  With a four-course load this is easily managed, but with a three-course load it is more complicated.  We recommend using the multi-year planning process equitably to distribute teaching, for example by alternating two- and one-course years in each department.  Cross-listing courses can also be a useful mechanism to ensure that commitments to multiple departments are met.

What incentive will there be for faculty to take on service roles?

Service is an important part of every faculty member's job and should not require incentivization any more than teaching or research should.  Nonetheless, some service roles require greater time and effort than others.

Department chairs in three-course load departments will continue to teach a two course load.  They should also expect a significantly reduced service load for several years after their term in recognition of the significance of this job.

Directors of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies will generally continue to teach a three-course load.  Occasional additional course relief may be granted in exceptional cases, especially in departments with unusually large graduate programs.  Like chairs, directors should expect a reduced service load after their term has finished.  

In the cases of chairs and directors, Brown's teaching loads mirror those of all of our peer schools and are not unduly burdensome. 

How will three-year planning affect the temporary teaching budget?

Brown has reduced its reliance on temporary teaching in the past few years, and will continue to staff the vast majority of its courses with permanent and full-time faculty.  Most departments should devise three-year curricular plans without the assumption of temp teaching funds beyond those already committed for long-term visitors.  In rare cases, temp teaching funds may be allocated to cover unexpected departures or absences or to address structural shortages in the short term until additional permanent faculty can be hired.

If a faculty member is on leave for one semester, how many courses should they teach in the semester in residence?

In this case, faculty should teach two courses when they are in residence. This is a long standing policy at Brown.

How should we plan for faculty who are up for reappointment or tenure?

Chairs should plan with the assumption that faculty will be reappointed.  If they are not, our office will work with you to cover their teaching.

What if the chair's term ends during the planning cycle?

Chairs should not assume their own reappointment or make assumptions about who will follow them as chair.

How will course relief promised in offer letters be handled?

We will honor the term of offer and retention letters.

How will this change affect lecturer-track faculty?

While lecturer-track faculty will not receive a reduced teaching load, we expect service burdens to be more evenly shared across the faculty, so in many cases lecturer-track faculty may see their share of departmental and university service lightened.


My department has or will have vacancies during the planning period.  Should I count on a successful search when planning out years?

You should make your curricular plan based on the regular faculty members in your department.  If you currently have a search open that you feel is likely to yield a hire who will start in the coming year, you can include their teaching in your multi-year plan.

What kinds of service should be entered into the planning tool?

We hope that the planning tool will become public record in your department, so it may be useful to provide an extensive list of service both to show the equity (and inequity) of service burdens and to recognize faculty for the work they are doing.  Service that is a routine part of every faculty members' job may not merit inclusion.