‘A Liberal Arts Future Quest’

Ohio Wesleyan group visits Greece, participates in GLCA’s Global Liberal Arts Alliance

It seems especially fitting that a contingent of Ohio Wesleyan University administrators and faculty members traveled to Athens, Greece, this summer to participate in “a Liberal Arts Future Quest.”

The symposium, organized by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), brought together approximately 70 representatives from 26 leading liberal arts colleges and universities in 13 nations to discuss innovations and best practices in transnational liberal arts education. The “Future Quest” may include developing new global student and faculty exchange programs, faculty development initiatives, and videoconferencing projects that would allow students on different campuses to work together and learn from each other.

Just a year earlier, a group of Ohio Wesleyan students traveled to Greece to explore “Citizenship in an Age of Empire: From Ancient Athens to 21st Century America,” one of Ohio Wesleyan’s groundbreaking Travel-Learning courses. The courses are an important example of how Ohio Wesleyan is providing a cutting-edge curriculum that helps students to link classroom theory with real-world experience and prepares them to become global citizens.

Introduced in spring 2010, Ohio Wesleyan’s Travel-Learning courses all include an off-campus component as part of the experience. In addition to studying Democracy in Greece, OWU students have traveled the globe to explore such topics as environmental sustainability and ecotourism in Costa Rica, obesity prevention and food in Italy, and understanding and alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Ohio Wesleyan will offer 16 Travel-Learning courses with destinations as diverse as Britain and Brazil and Ecuador and Uganda.

Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., was among the group that traveled to Greece as part of the GLCA’s “Global Liberal Arts Alliance.”

“I thought the conversations were productive, and I believe the alliance has significant potential to enhance the liberal arts curriculum internationally,” Jones said. “At Ohio Wesleyan, we will be discussing what steps we can take to provide our students with the most powerful educational experiences possible and how we can participate further in the Global Liberal Arts Alliance.”

Also attending the symposium in Greece were Ohio Wesleyan interim Provost Chuck Stinemetz, Ph.D., and faculty members Danielle Hamill, Ph.D., professor of zoology; Edward Kahn, Ph.D., associate professor of theatre & dance; and Sean Kay, Ph.D., professor of politics and government.

In addition to adding Travel-Learning courses, Ohio Wesleyan also is enhancing its curriculum and campus program opportunities by creating a series of Course Connections, a Theory-to-Practice grant program, and an OWU Experience program open to first-year students.

Ohio Wesleyan currently offers six Course Connections, which enable students to examine an idea, theme, or topic over time by taking related courses in several different disciplines.

The University also awards two rounds of Theory-to-Practice grants during the academic year, allowing students, faculty, and staff to write grant proposals to pursue areas of special academic interest. The grant program was begun in 2009 and most recently awarded $135,000 to support 21 proposals in spring and fall 2012.

Also enhancing Ohio Wesleyan’s curriculum are new OWU Experience courses, created by University faculty to provide incoming students with “all-access pass to the many opportunities, programs, and resources available both on and off campus” to help ensure that they take full advantage of all of the opportunities available to them as part of their undergraduate experiences.

“Our ongoing work to refine and enhance our curriculum dovetails well with our participation in the internationally focused Global Liberal Arts Alliance,” Jones said. “The goal of both Ohio Wesleyan and the GLCA is to be leaders in liberal arts education to ensure that we are educating students to think critically, communicate effectively, and lead on a global scale.”

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