Executive Summaries

The 6 topics considered for the QEP, their executive summaries, and links to their full proposals are listed below:

Civic Engagement

Authors: Tom Arcaro and Bud Warner

Elon University is poised to make the transformation from an institution that does civic engagement very well into a national model of a fully integrated civically engaged university. Through utilizing the strengths of all of our many constituencies – faculty, staff, administrators, community partners, alumni, parents and students- this QED plan offers some beginning points for a campus wide discussion about how most effectively to make this transformation.  By rethinking the university both in terms of structure and overall campus culture, student learning will be transformed as will our entire campus community. 

Though the term ‘civic engagement’ is variously defined within academia, four over-lapping domains of civic engagement have been identified. These domains include the following, and each will inform and guide our movement toward being a model civically engaged campus community:

  • The social service realm
  • The social advocacy realm
  • The political realm
  • The business realm

The sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote of “personal troubles and social issues,” noting that many people experience their own concerns without understanding them in a broader context.  The overall goal of this QEP for both students and the larger academic community is to enhance and deepen the ability of all community members to make the connections between the local and global, the personal and the social, that is, to become more civically engaged. There are three specific goals of this QEP proposal:

Goal 1:  Students will develop a deeper understanding of the Burlington/Alamance County region, its history and current challenges.
Goal 2: Students will develop a deeper understanding of how issues in Burlington/Alamance County connect to or reflect broader regional and global issues and challenges.
Goal 3:  Students’ involvement in local, regional, and global issues and challenges will increase through an improved infrastructure to coordinate and promote curricular and co-curricular civic engagement activities and through providing more opportunities for students to practice civic engagement

Key action elements of this QED include:

  1. The establishment of a Center for Civic Engagement that would serve to (i) further coordinate the wide array of existing civic engagement activities, (ii) initiate and administer new programs (see below), and (iii) seek external funding for existing and new initiatives
  2. A fall lecture series for both first and second year students designed to achieve the three goals outlined above
  3. The establishment of an East Burlington Resource Center
  4. Creating Ashoka-model Training for Trusteeship Grants
  5. Expanding the existing Service Sabbatical program
  6. Expanding service-learning and community-based research

Though establishing reasonable indicators of the broader success for this QEP will be difficult, specific and measurable benchmarks can be identified for each of the elements of the proposal.

The full proposal is given here: CivicEngagementProposal.pdf.

Diversity: Domestic Difference Program

Authors: Brooke Barnett and Kenn Gaither

The diversity QEP proposal is for a signature domestic difference program that provides our students with meaningful interactions with people unlike themselves and significant study of cultural difference in an international and domestic comparative context.  The ultimate goal is for every Elon student to experience difference in an international and domestic comparative context, a key to learning in the 21st century.

We suggest a menu of domestic difference options that are seamlessly interwoven into an Elon education, much in the way that study abroad already is. The overarching goal for the proposal is for our students to obtain knowledge about diverse cultures, engage in and value difference, and learn to navigate difference. These goals are in the foreground as the university works to create positive and meaningful interactions between and among diverse groups of people and students. These goals also extend the work of numerous committees and historic initiatives at Elon and are clearly connected to the university mission.

The proposal has three prongs, including a winter term emphasis on “Encountering Difference,” creation of a fund for innovative projects, and development of an assessment plan that measures how and what students learn through their encounters with difference domestically and abroad.

The winter term component will emphasize “Encountering difference” as a core value with courses focused on cultural difference in a comparative U.S. and international or U.S.- based context, including Intergroup Relations Dialogue (IGR) pedagogy, domestic study and residence linked courses. 

The second prong focuses on planned interaction and learning among a range of groups outside the classroom through a fund for innovative projects that create purposeful engagement with difference.  Grants will allow students to take ownership of the experience and will also support faculty, staff and student-led initiatives such as a campus wide intercultural education program. IGR training will also benefit faculty and staff leading discussions.

The third and final prong is for an assessment plan for diversity work across campus that can be used to inform future programs at Elon. This investment in assessment will benefit other Elon hallmarks, such as study abroad. A solid assessment model builds on the work already happening on campus and will allow us to assess the learning in a domestic study program and deepen our understanding of other learning that takes place outside of the classroom, such as study abroad, service learning, leadership and internships.

The full proposal given here: DiversityProposal.pdf

Futures Thinking and Innovation

Authors: Janna Anderson and Anthony Weston

Goals

In his Charge to the Class of 2011, President Lambert laid out challenges to the generation we are now educating, including remaking public education, facing the debt issue, the need to find practical solutions for energy and environmental problems and to find our way to a resilient and vigorous practice of religious tolerance. This QEP proposes that Elon embrace the project of teaching students the necessary skills to think in distinctively critical, creative, and constructive new ways – in short, Futures Thinking (FT) – at a whole new level of deliberate aspiration and specificity.

Outcomes

Suppose that in ten years all Elon graduates were able to:

  • Anticipate and articulate multiple significant ways in which patterns of change now developing – including those probable but not now visible – will affect and possibly transform both the field of his/her interest/major and society as a whole.
  • Use multiple problem-solving and creative-thinking skills to develop original ideas for innovative responses to such patterns of change, both foreseeable and unforeseeable; including significant and broad-scale possible mitigations or alternatives to the negative aspects of the patterns of change now being discussed or beginning to emerge.
  • Base these abilities in turn upon multiple significant ways in which they have already been engaged with Futures Thinking at the personal and institutional levels, as well as engagement with the work of contemporary futures thinkers; and their deeply-rooted expectation to make FT a part of their continuing lives.

New Curriculum

Develop and implement a futures-oriented curricular initiative systematically integrated into GST110. On the upper level, mandate a futures component in senior seminars, and/or a separate course (“Chemistry: Past, Present, Future”, “The Future of History”, etc.) in each major. Create Immersion Semesters for students interested in taking carefully-coordinated clusters of futures-oriented courses in various disciplines, with a coordinated travel component. Create a Futures Studies minor with affiliated faculty from across the University.

Related Initiatives

Create an independent office of diverse Futures Advocates to challenge and diversify our usual operating assumptions and practices in regard to the future, including establishing a series of invited Visiting Futures Visionary/Scholars who will speak both to Elon’s situation and to the region’s. Commit to funding at least one major new future-oriented regional or global initiative per year, designed from the start to be able to spin off into independent, on-going projects (that might also employ and showcase our students and graduates). Initiate a "funding best futures project," which involves students led by faculty filtering foundation requests for philanthropy, with the possibility of developing a global reputation for philanthropic futuring. Create and “brand” a futures studies curriculum for K-12 educators. Establish a campus-wide foresight unit to monitor emerging-futures scenarios. Launch highly visible and carefully thought-through small–scale pilot projects on or near campus, such as incubators for new technologies, projects to revivify locally degraded economies/ecologies, and arts initiatives with a distinctive futures focus. Make Elon a visible generative node both for new programs and for new ideas in the area.

The full proposal given here: FuturesThinkingProposal.pdf

Information Literacy

Authors: Randy Piland and Megan Squire

In the April 17, 2011 issue of the Wall St. Journal, the bar graph to the right appeared in the Review & Outlook section, under the headline “Where the tax money is”. The editorial presented an argument as follows: in the ongoing debate about extending the Bush-era tax cuts in the U.S., most of the taxable income resides with the middle income earners (represented by that high bar in the middle), so that is who should be taxed the most. The graph itself is marked “Source: IRS”, implying that the data came from a government source.

The article created something of a firestorm of controversy. The total number media responses to the original graph and article currently total over 100,000. Many of the responses were sophisticated – using statistical reasoning, economic analysis, and historical references to make a case for or against the data as presented. To craft a persuasive argument in response to this article requires the following:

  • the ability to locate materials to support or counter the argument;
  • the ability to find out whether the data shown is valid and accurate, comes from the sources stated, and is accurately presented;
  • the ability to assess and critique the motivations and biases of each article’s author;
  • the ability to understand and critique the graphical/statistical presentation of the data used in a given argument and effectively pose a counter-argument to achieve a purpose;
  • the ability to craft an argument (pro, con or other) that uses the information from a given domain accurately, fairly, and ethically.

These are, as it turns out, five examples of the five standards describing competency in
Information Literacy, a set of skills necessary for meaningful participation in 21st century society.

Would any given student from Elon University graduating in May of 2011 (a) recognize that the data and conclusions on both sides of the debate are open for discussion, and that their input is critical in forming public policy; and (b) have the Information Literacy skills to craft accurate, convincing, timely, and fair arguments to support a position?

In this proposal, first the relevant background is given on the concept and standards of information literacy. Then a case is presented for why Elon University should make an unprecedented commitment to ensuring information literacy competencies in our graduates. Then a Two-Plank radical plan is proposed for infusing information literacy standards into both curricular and cocurricular programs: (1) The Watch is an initiative designed to increase student exposure to information literacy concepts in a dynamic, problem-based way; and (2) The curriculum development plan features “embedded librarians” and a department and program focus. The conclusion discusses the benefits of this information literacy plan for Elon University.

The full proposal is given here: InformationLiteracyProposal.pdf.

Intellectual Engagement: Collaborative Inquiry into Deep and Integrative Learning

Authors: Katie King and Mary Knight-McKenna

Elon University strives to prepare our graduates to tackle challenges faced by their local and global communities. Working collaboratively with others to find solutions to complex problems requires the application of a deeply interconnected knowledge base acquired through the integration of learning across a broad spectrum of contexts. Renowned for engaged learning, Elon is now poised to build upon this success by exploring and promoting intellectual engagement on our campus. Through three related initiatives, faculty, staff and students will explore intellectual engagement in the classroom and in experiential and co-curricular contexts. The findings will be used to stimulate curricular and pedagogical innovations in support of deep and integrative learning, so that our students will be prepared to apply their knowledge and skills as leaders of the twenty-first century.

In the first initiative, students, faculty and staff will be invited to participate in Intellectual Engagement Seminars, courses developed around deep and integrative learning. The two-hour courses will be credit-bearing for students, and count toward normal work load or be accompanied by a stipend for faculty and staff. These courses will be offered throughout the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years.

In the second initiative, teams of students, faculty and/or staff will be invited to apply for Intellectual Engagement Grants to support inquiry projects focused on a) deep learning within the disciplines; b) deep learning within co-curricular programs, e.g., Study Abroad, SGA, or Multicultural Center; or c) integrative learning across the curriculum. These projects may be one, two, three, or even four years in length. Inquiry teams working in related areas or using similar methodologies will meet regularly and develop common rubrics for the assessment of deep and integrative learning.

In the third initiative, discussions will be convened so the campus community can reflect, and build on the new understandings being developed. Beginning in departments and programs, these conversations will widen in concentric circles until the entire University is thinking intentionally about deep and integrative learning and how it can be facilitated with new curricular initiatives and pedagogical innovations. The work will also be disseminated widely, through a web-presence, scholarly presentations and publications, and a book summarizing the project, further supporting Elon University’s reputation for intellectual engagement.

This project will have a fittingly deep and broad influence on student learning: those students who participate directly in any of the three initiatives will deepen their understanding of learning, both generally and in disciplinary and co-curricular contexts. They will gain insight into the need to intentionally integrate knowledge, skills and ways of knowing acquired from multiple sources and experience. Students’ intellectual engagement will increase as they take greater responsibility for their own learning and that of their peers. The exploration of deep and integrative learning on our campus will stimulate the development of innovative curricular and pedagogical strategies which will have a long lasting impact on student learning for years to come.

The full proposal is given here: IntellectualEngagementProposal.pdf.

Writing: Transforming the Teaching and Learning of Writing

Authors: Paula Patch and Paula Rosinski

This QEP proposal will strengthen and deepen the teaching and learning of writing, creating a sustainable culture of writing both across and within disciplines. Elon is at a critical juncture: the current teaching, learning, and practice of writing at Elon can be considered good, but with the increased resources, support structures, and focused goals proposed within this QEP, we can provide all students an excellent, highly integrated writing experience across the curriculum and within their majors, recognized by students, alums, and future graduate/professional schools and employers as writing-enriched and productive of exceptional writers.

In response to recent research that shows students at even the most highly-engaging schools can drift through their academic careers without experiencing their institution’s best practices in writing, this QEP is designed to ensure that all Elon students have a highly-integrated writing experience across and within majors, and in their extracurricular activities as well (Academically Adrift 70-71). To address and stem this potential to drift, we propose, essentially, that every undergraduate degree awarded by Elon be “writing-enriched.” Consequently, this proposed QEP would benefit every single student (and when done effectively, every faculty member) at Elon University—from first-year students to seniors, and even graduate school students should the university choose to extend its QEP beyond the undergraduate population.

Goals

  1. For students to have a highly integrated writing experience across the curriculum, within their majors, and throughout their extracurricular activities
  2. For faculty within departments to receive the support needed to develop writing-enriched majors, integrating writing vertically throughout their majors and leading to the development of exceptional discipline-based writers and writing
  3. For faculty across the university to receive the support needed to develop a writing-enriched experience that extends horizontally across the curriculum and leads to the development of writers who can write well across a range of contexts
  4. For faculty and students to understand writing as both a context-sensitive practice of communication and a means for deep learning, resulting in the awareness that they must implement actively best practices in writing instruction to create what works best within and across their own specific contexts of practice and learning
  5. To foster the scholarship of teaching and learning specific to writing, locally and nationally.

Strategies

  1. Develop a student writing experience that fully integrates the writing students do within majors, minors, and/or programs, across the disciplines, and in extracurricular activities.
  2. Commit significant resources to support departments/majors/minors/programs for developing cultures of writing and a university-wide culture of writing excellence.
  3. Create a Center for the Advancement of Writing that works closely with CATL and the future Center for Engaged Learning. Hire a Center for the Advancement of Writing director and a Writing Across the Curriculum director.
  4. Recreate the Writing Center as a 21st century learning and writing space.
  5. Continue to support and promote faculty scholarship in the teaching and learning of writing across and within disciplines.

The full proposal is given here: WritingProposal.pdf.