Transforming Paideia

Jennifer Fleming

Representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) finished reviewing Southwestern last week. This included an evaluation of the values, performance, and resources of the university as a whole. An important step to reaffirm accreditation, SACSCOC had two recommendations for the school to accomplish but overall gave a positive review.

“I join with President Schrum in thanking each and everyone of you who helped to bring a successful outcome to the university’s SACSCOC On-Site Reaffirmation Committee visit,” Accreditation Liaison Ron Swain said in an e-mail to the student body.

The university has prepared for this visit over the past two years through the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), an effort by students and faculty alike to self-assess the school.

“Obviously untold hours, by many, many, many individuals, have been devoted to this process,” Swain said. “In my judgment this has been a Southwestern University ‘community-wide’ effort. Thank You!”

The major focus of the QEP has been to put a stronger emphasis on interdisciplinary studies at Southwestern, resulting in the new initiative ‘Transforming Paideia.’

Thanks to a $500,000 grant from Mellon Foundation funding the expansion of the program, the ‘new’ Paideia will become the center of all academic studies, and open to all students.

“The Paideia Seminars and Clusters will provide both faculty and students with the opportunity to intentionally engage in making meaningful connections among their learning experiences,” Provost Jim Hunt said.

Incoming students will enter their Paideia studies starting with their First-Year Seminar. They will then choose three courses within a ‘Paideia Cluster’. This will end with completion of those interconnected courses along with a fourth coursed called the ‘Paideia Seminar’.

While the new Paideia will not be launched until Fall 2014, next semester Southwestern is offering three clusters: The Mediterranean World, Global Health, and Representing Gender.

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Representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) finished reviewing the University last week. This included a focused evaluation by ten members of the core values, performance, and resources of the school as a whole. An important step to reaffirm accreditation, SACSCOC had two requirements for Southwestern to meet but gave a positive review.

“I join with President Schrum in thanking each and everyone of you who helped to bring a successful outcome to the University’s SACSCOC On-Site Reaffirmation Committee visit,” Accreditation Liaison Ron Swain said in an e-mail to the student body. “While we did get two recommendations, to which we must respond by March, this is a far better outcome than many institutions receive.”

The University has prepared for this visit over the past two years through the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), and through the Compliance Certification document, an effort by students and faculty alike to self-assess the school.

“While many at the University were involved in various aspects of the reaffirmation process, I must acknowledge Nancy Schutz for her hard work and attention to the hundreds of details throughout the process,” Swain said. “Obviously untold hours, by many, many, many individuals, have been devoted to this process. In my judgment this has been a Southwestern University ‘community-wide’ effort. Thank You!”

The major focus of the QEP has been to put a stronger emphasis on interdisciplinary studies at Southwestern. As a result, the most dramatic changes being enacted by the QEP revolve around the ‘Transforming Paideia’ initiative.

Thanks to a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding the expansion of the program, the ‘new’ Paideia will be different from the original in that it will become the center of all academic studies, and open to all students.

“The Paideia Seminars and Clusters will provide both faculty and students with the opportunity to intentionally engage in making meaningful connections among their learning experiences,” Provost Jim Hunt said, “which was one of the key components of the earlier Paideia Program.”

Incoming students will enter into their Paideia studies starting with their First-Year Seminar. After its completion, students will choose three courses within a single ‘Paideia Cluster’. This will end with the student completing those interconnected courses along with a fourth coursed called the ‘Paideia Seminar’.

“The opportunities offered here are extremely vital to the success of each student,” Victoria Flores, a sophomore current Paideia scholar, said.

Sophomore Elizabeth Spieckerman, also involved in Paideia, agreed.

“I think Paideia is one of the many programs that make Southwestern unique,” Spieckerman said. “An initiative that allows more students to experience Paideia could potentially be great.”

The purpose of these changes is to give students an education that embodies the ideals of liberal arts and encourages the application of their knowledge to real world issues. It would also emphasize civic engagement and intercultural perspective, providing $100,000 for students to travel abroad.

While the new Paideia will not be launched until Fall 2014, starting next semester Southwestern is offering three pilot clusters: The Mediterranean World, Global Health, and Representing Gender.

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