Highlights from the F2Y Implementation Team: February 11-15, 2019

What is the Team Up To?

This week the Student Support design team completed a draft of the Fall 2019 co-curricular programming. Their design includes activities and support designed to:

  • help students understand the importance of community service, become familiar with the Unity College campus (including available resources, where to seek answers and help, etc.), and form relationships (week 1)
  • empower students to assess their strengths and weaknesses and utilize resources and information to support growth and success (weeks 2-4)
  • help students build mutually supportive relationship while consciously employing behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that lead to success (weeks 5-9)
  • support students as they develop meaningful goals and find value in experiences (weeks 10-16)

The Academic design team completed their first draft of the Fall 2019 “testbed” curriculum, Wilderness and Place in Maine. Their design specifies Core Skills and Understandings (CSUs) that students will achieve while participating in an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on three central questions.

Overview of the planned expedition (from the 2.14.19 Fall 2019 Testbed draft):

Wilderness and Place in Maine

What lives in the woods and mountains of western Maine?

How have humans and other animals understood this place?

How can we communicate their stories to wider publics?

These questions lie at the heart of our expedition, which takes us to “wilderness” areas around Jackman, Maine, a small town in Somerset County that lies close to the border of Canada. As we journey there, we will study the biology, ecology, natural history, and classification of major Northeastern game species. We will think about how the meanings local people give to these animals inform their cultural and political activities. Using mathematical and verbal literacies, we will also communicate about this environment in ways that inform, move, and empower multiple stakeholders.

One of our central premises will be all things are interconnected, and that we can learn a great deal about nature, biology, and communication by studying them together. All too often, scientists study nature without communicating their insights to the audiences who most need that knowledge. All too often, writers communicate about nature without attending to the science behind it. All too often, mathematicians quantify things without attending to real-world application. We will try to discover the value of integrating these different perspectives, and argue that interdisciplinary study is absolutely crucial if one hopes to address contemporary environmental issues.  

Our specific goal will be to produce a wildlife survey that benefits SkyLodge, a Unity-owned sporting lodge just north of Jackman that sits on 150 acres overlooking the Moose River Valley. This will entail learning a variety of skills that range from the scientific (learning about plants and animals, how they work, their habitats, and so on), to the literary (communicating mathematical and verbal information to different stakeholders in ethical and compelling ways), to the interpersonal (learning to work as a team as we tackle this problem together). 

Throughout the coming week, FIT will be focusing on providing feedback and finding ways to meaningfully integrate co-curricular and academic elements of the Fall 2019 experience.

How is the Campus Community Engaging in the Work?

Faculty continue to meet with members of the Academic design team to discuss possible topics or targeted learning outcomes for short courses and to identify CSUs that are important for inclusion in Year 1 and Year 2 expeditions.

The Strategic Academic Leadership Team (SALT) discussed strategies for providing professional development for faculty as well as ways to engage them in the process of expedition design.

The Academic Leadership Team (ALT) is beginning work on mapping out pathways – specific expeditions, short courses, and/or co-curricular activities – that will guide students toward readiness for matriculation into specific degree programs in Year 3.

Several months ago, our consultant Ron Mahurin described this type of comprehensive curriculum design project as like “building the plane while flying it.” Not a bad metaphor, it turns out. There are certainly a lot of interconnecting pieces to deal with and the whole system is constantly in motion! On behalf of the team, I want to thank everyone who’s been courageous enough to get on the plane with us.

Respectfully,

— Jen
Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D.
Director of Curricular Innovation
Associate Professor of Education
Unity College
Unity, Maine 04998
(412) 215-6511
Office: Unity House, Room 2
F2Y Office: Constable Hall