On February 15-17, 2018, MindAppster participated as a “Friend Sponsor” at the AAC&U General Education Conference “General Education and Assessment: Foundations of Democracy.”
Ranging from conference presentations, to posters, to speaking with participants, we have observed that there is a renewed need and interest in not simply improving GenEd practices but in reexamining their value in the context of global citizenship, with a student as an agent who is preparing to embark on solving complex problems affecting our global community in the 21 century.
A whirlwind of discussions revolved around such topics as Integrative Learning, Interdisciplinary Thinking, Civic Engagement, Global Citizenship initiatives, and Global Learning. With these concepts emerging as a shared narrative for GenEd evolutions, it will be interesting to observe if they become the next generation of GenEd skills.
With these skills at the focus of discussions, the following questions have emerged: How can such skills be achieved? What initiatives do GenEd pioneers of the 21 century take to support students and faculty in driving GenEd changes? There seems to be a common thread in identifying a solution: Integrated Curriculum, or engaging students in cross-curricular interdisciplinary activities. Integrated curricular initiatives have been discussed with a focus on vertical integrations, such as integrating knowledge activities across GenEd subjects with specialized areas in Majors, including highly technical degrees; between STEM and traditional liberal arts subjects; as well as interdisciplinary initiatives between curricular and co-curricular activities.
These are exciting and challenging times for all GenEd stakeholders, ranging from students and faculty to institutional GenEd committees, and external governing bodies. This conference has clearly demonstrated that now is a ripe time for making a change in GenEd practices. A change from imposing siloed disciplines of GenEd requirements that are seemingly unrelated to student’s chosen area of academic and professional pursuit. A change that will give students skills to manage complex interdisciplinary and cross-functional problems faced by most organizations of the 21 century.