* 1. Topic #1 – Community Engagement as Experiential Learning

Topic description – This topic involves enhancing and expanding experiential learning opportunities through student research, internships, and service learning. This idea will expand the definition of community engagement beyond just community service and will make it a more holistic part of BSC, with each part of the College contributing to one or more of the three areas in accordance with its own identity. Specific projects under this topic could include expanding service-learning opportunities, improving the quality of internship experiences, enhancing independent student-faculty research opportunities, and being more deliberate in the coordination and assessment of all types of experiential learning experiences.

Why this topic? – Engagement with one’s community “outside of the classroom” develops skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership, particularly in a society with a growing awareness and empathy towards understanding diverse perspectives. This topic meets students where they are, equipping them with skills they need to engage their environment beyond BSC, and providing them with a background that will make them more desirable to employers in their prospective careers.

Should this be BSC's QEP topic? Why or why not?

* 2. Topic #2 – Global Perspective

Topic description – First-year students will expand their awareness of diversity through engagement in a global perspective course. Ideally, this course will meet the GP Explorations requirement and have students involved in different multicultural or multi-faith events off or on campus. Activities could range from connecting with student groups, such as Love Asia or Mecca, to partnering domestic students with international students and developing a community focused on global awareness.

Why this topic? – This project will increase first-year students’ awareness of global issues, as well as enhancing tolerance and understanding between different groups. Hopefully, students will be provided a realistic view of the world on a semi-homogenous campus. The connection with international students will help support their community. Eventually, the students exposed to a more global world view may be inspired to travel abroad.

Should this be BSC’s QEP topic? Why or why not?

* 3. Topic #3 – ExCELS Week: Explorations Capstone Experience – Learning and Scholarship Week

Topic description – The proposed program is a weeklong event devoted to student learning and scholarship, acknowledging that all students learn at BSC. Learning and Scholarship Week will include events that celebrate student learning and scholarship, while ritualizing the values of the Explorations curriculum – effective written and oral communication; creative problem solving with diverse methodologies; civic and social engagement; connections between self, discipline(s), and world; and self-directed teaching and learning. The week celebrates work done throughout the four years of the Explorations curriculum.

Why this topic? – This topic builds on several practices already valued at the institution: the Explorations Curriculum (written and oral communication, self-directed teaching and learning, writing reinforcement, connections [including ES courses and senior conference presentations]), Honors Day, and student-faculty research, as well as integrates co-curricular experiences into our broad understanding of learning and scholarship. This topic strengthens these practices by integrating them with one another and ritualizing their celebration for the entire campus community.

Should this be BSC’s QEP topic? Why or why not?

* 4. Topic #4 – Connect the Dots: Lifelong Learning in the Liberal Arts

Topic description – This topic involves a learning journal that students keep throughout their undergraduate career. In the journal, students will add entries that address the essential questions of the liberal arts as embodied in the Explorations curriculum. The journal will capture students’ growth over time as lifetime learners. For example, at various points in their college career, students might write a reflective essay about their growth as a liberal learner: in the first-year ES course, in the writing reinforcement course, in the senior capstone of their major. They will collect these journal entries over time, perhaps in an electronic folder or on a tumblr page. The reflective writing or other reflective projects (e.g., a YouTube video) will not need to be restricted to courses—the chapel might use journal entries for students to reflect on the meaning of their spiritual growth in a liberal arts context; athletics might use them to reflect on how athletics contributes to a liberal arts education. The possibilities are endless. All that's needed is a single tool for prompting the reflection and a place to capture the product.

Why this topic? – The idea of a journal or a portfolio integrates the values of the general education curriculum and builds on some of what we already do well: supporting student growth as liberal learners. At the same time, it provides a mechanism for helping students integrate not only their academic learning, but their growth as citizens of the community and as persons of character. For example, one entry in the Connect the Dots journal could be a reflection on the three courses the student chose for the self-directed teaching and learning requirement. Finally, by integrating co-curricular experiences, the program allows us to work smarter, not harder.

Should this be BSC’s QEP topic? Why or why not?

* 5. Topic #5 – Belong. Engage. Connect.

Topic description – BSC welcomes incoming first year students by placing them within a small learning community (mentoring families/advising groups) of their peers, as well as upperclass students, faculty, and staff mentors.

Why this topic? – This topic will build on the College’s most apparent (and well documented) institutional strength – its excellent student mentoring and the accessibility of faculty in and out of the classroom for advising and academic support. The creation of student learning communities will facilitate a culture-shift to more student-driven engagement in the community and the curriculum. This topic will address the areas of assisting new students in the transition to college, enhancing the advising process, and encouraging connections across the curriculum as well as between academic and extra-curricular opportunities.

Should this be BSC’s QEP topic? Why or why not?