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Curricular Issues

Joint Meeting of FEC Governance and Strategic Planning with Curricular-related Committees September 11, 2012

Present: Kristi Erdal, Gail Murphy-Geiss, Mike Siddoway, Re Evitt, Jared Richman, Genny Love, Mark Smith, Sandi Wong, Juan Lindau, Jeff Noblett, George Butte, Miro Kummel, Emily Chan, Tip Ragan, Kathy Giuffre, Inger Bull, Michael Grace, Nathan Bower

Committee on Extending Our Reach Representatives: Kristina Lybecker, Ivan Gaetz, Mary Francis Kerr

These notes focus on the second half of the meeting in which members of the Strategic Planning Committee led a discussion about the process.  The meeting began with a discussion about restructuring the governance of CC’s curriculum, including the current COI, GEOC, FYE, International Studies, and student support, including writing, health professions, assessment, library, learning commons.

The discussion largely focused on questions that we need to be asking, rather than initiatives or goals.  In that context, several themes emerged. 

Technology  Is there a way to connect with our alumni that’s not being done?  While questions surround whether technology really makes this process better, we probably can’t afford not to use it.  We need to be open to this enrichment.  Technology was also discussed in the context of teaching and extending our reach.  Blended learning and using lectures at other schools (via technology) is something worth exploring.  That said, we don’t want to go after the online market as it would dilute our brand. 

Block Plan  Complaining abounds surrounding the limitations of the block plan.  It seems to reinforce the separation between academics and other aspects of campus life.  It’s also become confining:  teaching at certain hours, ownership of a particular room, excessive committee meetings.  To some, our brand is most vibrant when we are off campus (field trips), but we don’t seem to be taking full advantage of these opportunities.  For others, the block plan is at its best when we are immersive with our students on-campus.   Mentorship happens more easily.  Those are the moments between students and faculty that bridge the gap between learning and the rest of their lives.  Despite the opportunities allowed by the block plan, many courses are quite traditional, orthodox.  There was agreement that there’s something different about the block plan relative to a traditional calendar.  What makes learning here better and how do we articulate that and even improve upon it?  The Block Plan is about “active Learning,” “immersion learning,” “learning in the extreme.”  The discussion continued to describe the benefits of not having a “bell ringing” to announce the end of class.  Wonderful things continue beyond a given hour because they can.  Why isn’t the block plan seen everywhere – presumably because it is well-suited to Colorado, to Colorado College.  This is part of our environment, and our students are active learners who do well on the block plan.  How do we make the best use of block breaks?  A variety of activities is one of our strengths and something we should promote and grow. 

Beyond the Classroom  How do we make our students’ time in the community better and more valuable?  What are we hoping to equip our students for (citizenship, job, life as a moral person, lifelong learning)?   What do we want them to be?   How do we get students resources?  How do we create a community where students seek out professors and others to learn about live and how to approach it?  There was some agreement that this is done differently by each person.  There’s no one “way” to do it. 

Role for Faculty  Some discussion centered on the silos in which we work.  Are there ways to integrate academics into the residence halls (like Harvard)?  Could we have faculty apartments in residential buildings?  In this way academics would permeate other aspects of our students’ lives.  Perhaps we could get away from some of their bad behavior.  However, some faculty aren’t comfortable with this level of engagement.  There are different roles for faculty and different people are comfortable with different levels of involvement in our students’ lives.  It was also agreed that boundaries are important and that most faculty members do not want to parent our students.  We need to share the burden of shaping our students across curricular, co-curricular and extra curricular activities.  How can we help our students to “connect the dots” and make the best choices?