Trinity Symposium Launches Re-envisioning Process for New Curriculum with Support from The Mellon Foundation

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Sharon Jones Schweitzer '75
Sep. 1, 2011

Trinity Symposium Launches Re-envisioning Process for New Curriculum with Support from The Mellon Foundation

Panel to assess state of liberal arts and its role in the future

SAN ANTONIO -Trinity University is embarking on a re-envisioning process to redefine a liberal arts education and has scheduled a symposium to launch the process. A panel of innovative thinkers will answer the questions: "What is the value of the liberal arts in the world today?" and "How can liberal arts education prepare students to address the challenges of 2022?"  The curricular symposium will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, in Trinity's Stieren Theater.  The program is free and open to the public.

The symposium also kicks off a faculty-led curriculum review, a component of the University's strategic plan to "define the new liberal arts experience." One of the objectives of the "Trinity Tomorrow" strategic planning process is to create a leading edge liberal arts and sciences curriculum that integrates its professional and pre-professional programs. "Trinity University has an opportunity to design an educational experience for the future that will go beyond the traditional classroom while reaffirming our liberal arts mission," said Dennis A. Ahlburg, president of Trinity University.

The symposium speakers include some of the country's leading experts in the field of higher education curriculum reform:

Lee Cuba, professor of sociology at Wellesley College (Wellesley, Mass.) and former dean of the college.  Cuba led the faculty in a revision of the Wellesley curriculum, shaped and expanded experiential learning opportunities for students, and oversaw strategic reviews.  Cuba currently serves as the principal director of the New England Consortium on Assessment and Student Learning, a longitudinal study of the Class of 2010 involving seven selective liberal arts colleges.  

Katie Conboy, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Stonehill College (Easton, Mass.).  Conboy is responsible for Stonehill's academic vision and for ensuring that the curriculum meets its academic objectives. She also oversees strategic planning, degree programs, and academic support.  Conboy is a recognized national leader in higher education, giving highly visible talks at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). He researches, writes, and speaks about emerging trends in the integration of inquiry, pedagogy, and technology and their potential application to liberal arts contexts. Alexander's current research interests include emerging pedagogical forms enabled by mobile technologies, the rise of digital humanities, and storytelling in new media. 

Trinity's curricular review and re-visioning process is being funded in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. More than 125 liberal arts colleges benefit either from direct grants or from support from the Mellon Foundation's Liberal Arts Colleges Program, which provides assistance to colleges as they review and refurbish their curricular offerings, as well as for other key academic priorities.

Later this month, Trinity will hold an all-campus retreat to envision future Trinity graduates of 2022 and how their education will form their thinking and experiences. A faculty committee will then conduct a series of dialogues and "idea labs" leading to a new Trinity general education curriculum.

"Our aim," said Ahlburg, "is to weave critical thinking, creativity, innovation, international awareness, and interdisciplinarity through a curriculum that engages students in bold, imaginative, and multi-dimensional ways."