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How Educational Innovations Will Make—or Break— America’s Global Future

AAC&U Annual Meeting
Grand Hyatt Hotel / Washington, DC



New Designs for Integrative Learning:
Curricular Pathways, Departments, and the Future
of Arts and Sciences


Resources from the Symposium


Two AAC&U projects shaped the symposium agenda. See PDFs below.

General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) is a one-year planning grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish design principles to guide innovative efforts to develop and test portable, competency-based general education. GEMs will use the competencies articulated in the Lumina Foundation Degree Qualification Profiles to map general education pathways that are holistic, cornerstone-to-capstone, focused on high-impact practices, and keyed to inquiry- and problem-centered projects. Dedicated working groups will explore the potential of digital learning strategies and the imperative for evidence of equitable levels of achievement and degree completion.
General Education Maps and Markers (PDF)

Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning is a network of fifteen residential liberal arts colleges supported by the Teagle Foundation and the Mellon Foundation to examine undergraduate students’ integrative learning through multiple forms of engaged educational experiences. As learning across boundaries becomes a signature characteristic of a 21st-century liberal education, curricular, co  curricular, and pedagogical innovations call for new forms of cross-cutting faculty oversight to discern the quality and level of students’ overall integrative learning. Project participants are articulating “Principle and Practices” of integrative liberal learning and strengthening faculty leadership for it across departments and divisions.
Principles and Practices of Integrative Learning (PDF)


About the Symposium
Parents and students want to know the employment prospects of an arts and sciences major, while policy makers question whether liberal education contributes to workforce preparation and economic competitiveness. Such questions downplay the important role of liberal education for civic engagement and personal development. They also coincide with declining enrollments in some humanities majors; calls for reduction of general education requirements; the rise of interest in competency-based credits, and the emergence of MOOCs and other innovations that implicitly treat an education as a discrete set of credits, as opposed to a coherent course of study. In other words, the centrality of a liberal education rooted in study of the arts and sciences is being challenged around questions of purpose, cost, quality, and relevance. 

During the 2014 symposium, participants will meet these challenges by exploring which structures, categories, and designs associated with liberal education and the arts and sciences might be saved, which might be adapted, and which might be discarded as we envision the future of higher education.

8:30-8:45 AM

David Paris, Vice President, Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons, AAC&U


8:45-9:45 AM

How Should We Map, Mark, and Measure Liberal Education?
Three leading theorists and practitioners will share provocative visions of the future of liberal education.

  • Randall Bass, Associate Provost, Professor of English, and Executive Director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Georgetown University
    Bass PowerPoint
  • Johnnella Butler, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Spelman College
    Butler PowerPoint


10:00-11:00 AM

Reality Checks 1
Concurrent sessions highlight innovative campus practices on the following topics:

Student Development: Integrating Academic, Co-Curricular, and Experiential Learning

  • Patrick Clarke, Dean of University College, Southern Utah University
  • Laura Gambino, Professor, Faculty Scholar for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
  • Carolyn Newton, Provost, The College of Wooster
    2014 AACU Pre-Meeting Symposium Integrative Learning (PDF)

Curricular Pathways: General Education, Cornerstone to Capstone

  • Debra David, Project Director, Give Students a Compass, California State University System Office
  • Michael Hagerman, Professor and Chair of Chemistry, Union College
  • Kathy Wolfe, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciencies, Nebraska Wesleyan University
    Wolfe PowerPoint (PDF)

Practicing Liberal Education: Connecting Curriculum and Careers


11:15 AM-12:15 PM

Reality Checks 2
Concurrent sessions highlight innovative campus practices on the following topics:

Competency-Based Education: Implications for Liberal Education

  • Cori Gordon, Assistant Clinical Professor of Liberal Arts, Northern Arizona University
  • Rebecca Karoff, Senior Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, University of Wisconsin System
  • Jeremy Korr, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Brandman University
    Reality Checks 2 power point (PDF)

Addressing Big Questions:  Problem-Centered Inquiry

  • C. "Griff" Griffin, Director of General Education Program, Grand Valley State University (Griffin Powerpoint - PDF)
  • James Klein, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Southern Oregon University
  • M. Gabriela Torres, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Wheaton College

Global Learning: Designing Curricula around the World

  • Cass Freedland, Director, Community-Based Learning, Goucher College
  • Laura O'Toole, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Salve Regina University
  • Robert Squillace, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, New York University
    AACU Slides 2014 GC_NYU_SRU No FX (PDF)


12:15-1:30 PM

Liberal Education Cuisine and the Basic Academic Food Groups

Judith Shapiro

Judith Shapiro, President, Teagle Foundation

There has been a tendency in some of the literature on higher education to draw a contrast between the general capacities (“competencies”) fostered by liberal education and the specific content that has been traditionally part of a liberal arts curriculum. This has had unfortunate and, for the most part, unintended consequences. Moreover, some of the language used in writings by higher education researchers is less than congenial to the very faculty members who are central to any effective changes in higher education. These are issues we will explore together.


2:00-2:45 PM

Imagining the Future of Arts and Sciences 1
Participants will engage in a series of roundtable discussions designed to move discussions from theory to practice. Each table will focus on a set of key questions related to the future of the arts and sciences and liberal education. Facilitators will lead discussion designed to capture innovative curricular designs and campus practices related to each question and scribes will record examples for later dissemination.


3:00-3:45 PM

Imagining the Future of Arts and Sciences 2
Participants will be invited to join new roundtable discussions designed to identify strategies for national efforts to illuminate the value(s) of study in the Arts and Sciences. Facilitators will lead conversations and scribes will capture key ideas for later dissemination.


3:45-4:15 PM

Closing Discussion
Participants will be encouraged to share critical concerns and ideas during the closing discussion.

Facilitator: Ann Ferren, Senior Fellow, AAC&U