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Essential Learning, Student Success, and the Currency of U.S. Degrees


Integrating the Sciences, Arts, and Humanities:
Global Challenges and the Intentional Curriculum

Wednesday, January 26, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Project Kaleidoscope and Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility

See Preliminary Program of Events

Increasingly, intellectual work is becoming more interdisciplinary and integrative as it focuses on addressing complex, societal challenges such as climate change, energy resources, food production and safety, and public health.

  • How is undergraduate education changing to meet such global challenges?
  • How are colleges and universities creating interdisciplinary and integrative learning environments that help students cross disciplinary borders?
  • What kinds of new integrative learning experiences can we imagine for all students—no matter their major field of study—that promote the essential knowledge and scientific literacy required to successfully navigate life in the 21st century?
  • How will we measure success in integrating the sciences, arts, and humanities?

Too often, integrative curricular designs are indistinguishable from traditional disciplinary designs from a student learning perspective. Instead of students struggling with the complexity of real-world problems, they are offered pre-digested elements “translated” by faculty members for use in class or left to do the integrating on their own.

Leaders from Project Kaleidoscope and AAC&U’s “Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility” initiative will offer an alternative metaphor for integrative learning—the “trading zone.”

Trading zones create real or simulated experiences for negotiating disciplinary languages, assumptions, and processes for more intentional and pragmatic interdisciplinary ends. Students and faculty in trading zones are encouraged to explore the discomfort that may exist between disciplinary cultures in order to more creatively apply knowledge in context.

Facilitators will lead symposium participants in an intensive and interactive examination of the assumptions that shape current curricular and co-curricular structures. Participants will enter metaphorical trading zones to collaboratively develop creative and innovative strategies for shaping a successful national agenda for more intentional integrative curricular change.

Speakers and Facilitators include:

Judith A. Dilts, Associate Dean of College of Science and Mathematics and Chair of Biology, James Madison University

Susan Elrod, Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope

Jeremy Haefner, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Rochester Institute of Technology

Amy Jessen-Marshall, Dean of College Programs and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs,
Otterbein University

Michael T. Kerchner, Associate Professor of Psychology, Washington College

Liliana Milkova, Curator of Academic Programs, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

Indira Nair, Vice Provost for Education Emeritus and Professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

James E. Swartz, Dack Professor of Chemistry, Grinnell College

Richard F. Vaz, Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Steven Volk, Director, Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence and Professor of History, Oberlin College

Preliminary Program

8:30-8:45 am            
Welcome and Introduction to the day

8:45-9:30 am
Trading Zones in Higher Education: A Metaphor for the Integrative Curriculum

9:40-10:15 am
Birds of a Feather Discussions (small groups by discipline)  

What does your discipline have to offer in “trade” for the integrative curriculum?

10:30-11:15 am
Cross-Flock Discussions (multi-disciplinary groups)

Sharing of disciplinary discussions regarding disciplinary “wares”; what do each of the disciplines bring to the trading zone for creating integrative curricula?

11:15 am-12:00 pm
Reporting Out

12:00-1:15 pm
(included with registration)

1:15-2:00 pm
Campus Snapshots

2:00-3:00 pm
Designing the Intentional Curriculum: Integration for 21st Century Learning

  • Presentation of key findings from the Keck/PKAL Leadership for Interdisciplinary Learning in STEM project with implications for broader cross-disciplinary actions
  • How can we use the “trading zones” metaphor to initiate action?   

3:15-3:45 pm
Leading Change: Zones of Challenge (small group discussions)        

  • What are the major challenges facing institutions in planning, piloting, implementing and scaling courses and programs that are truly integrative across the disciplines?
  • What would it take to create to make these changes? For reporting out, groups will be tasked to identify one top challenge and 2-3 possible solutions.
    • People
    • Policy
    • Curriculum
    • Institution

3:45-4:15 pm
Reporting Out

4:15-4:30 pm
Closing comments and Next Steps


About Project Kaleidoscope
In January 2010, AAC&U and PKAL joined forces to advance and amplify work on improving undergraduate education in mathematics, technology, and the various fields of science and engineering (STEM) in colleges and universities across the country. .

About Shared Futures
Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility is a multi-project, national initiative of AAC&U based upon the assumption that we live in an interdependent but unequal world and that higher education can help prepare students not only to thrive in such a world, but to remedy its inequities.  Its most recent project, General Education for a Global Century (funded by The Henry Luce Foundation) was launched in July 2010.