From: Dr. Erika Latty and Dr. Sarah Cunningham
To: The Unity College Community

Dear Unity College,

Our recent conversations have emphasized innovation in academia. Academic innovation can take many forms but most of us agree that it provides high-quality learning experiences that add value to the curriculum, not detract from it.  Other organizations, like the Lumina Foundation and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, have developed frameworks recognizing the dual importance of innovation and academic quality as described in this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At Unity College, we have defined innovation as a mission-driven, yet flexible mindset that rewards and supports intentional risk-taking to support powerful new learning experiences and change higher education in order to address the evolving needs of society and the sustainability of the environment. We encourage everyone to take another look at the innovation planning document that defines and provides guiding principles for our work at Unity College.

Process Updates:

  • The CAPC has continued their discussion of articulating CWLOs related to sustainability science and, more broadly, to the foundational skills and knowledge that are needed for successful engagement in learning opportunities.  To further advance this work, Dr. Cartier has been working with colleagues to articulate the program-specific learning outcomes. She has also invited interested parties to schedule a work session her if they would like to be more involved in this work.
  • Stamats is using information from the student focus groups and other sources to develop the survey portions of the project.
  • Mahurin in continuing to conduct interviews with innovation leaders.  Initial observations are that the best work being done is driven by a clear vision, strong leadership, a focus on execution, and of course, ultimately, knowing and doggedly pursuing clear measurable outcomes.
  • Cartier is providing the context of learning theories (not only cognitive psychology, sociology, and psychology – but also neuroscience) to our outcomes work so that our new curriculum reflects the most current and powerful understandings of learning.

Outcomes and Next Steps:

  • More learning outcome discussions are planned for CAPC and faculty meeting next week.
  • We will hold a joint meeting with Stamats and Dr. Mahurin to discuss the purpose of the survey research, details surrounding an interview guide, timelines, and any other data we will need to identify high school juniors who are the target audience for this research.

That sums up our activity for the week and more updates will be forthcoming.