Integrated Learning Partnerships
“Fostering students' abilities to integrate learning--over time, across courses, and between academic, personal, and community life--is one of the most important goals and challenges of higher education.”—Integrative Learning Project
As UNC’s source for interdisciplinary coursework, University College seeks engaged faculty members who are interested in forming Integrative Learning Partnerships which will convey, to both students and faculty, the idea of college learning as an interdisciplinary and holistic endeavor. For many students, pursuing a college education simply becomes an exercise in negotiating disparate classes; however, after graduation from the academy, the various parts of people’s lives prove to be far more interdependent and much more interdisciplinary. While most collegiate programs do attempt to integrate other disciplines into their pedagogical strategies, opportunities abound for strengthening and expanding those opportunities and encouraging faculty and students to reach across disciplinary lines. The Carnegie Foundation is a national leader in promoting integrative learning, and they recently partnered with the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) on a three year project called the “Integrative Learning Project.” These organizations worked with ten colleges and universities to produce the report, an encompassing statement of principle.
The report speaks to the strategies surrounding integrative learning and the value of faculty partnering, as well as campus involvement, in these academic relationships.
Individual faculty members can do much to strengthen integrative learning through decisions about course design, pedagogy and assignments. But individual efforts, by themselves, cannot create and sustain the opportunities students need to develop as integrative thinkers over the full arc of their college careers. For this to happen, collaborative efforts at the campus, program, and departmental levels are needed both to institute new practices where necessary, and to ensure that programs already in place reinforce and build on one another. The experience of campuses participating in the ILP suggests that leaders of the campus initiatives to strengthen integrative learning should do their best to:
- Make integrative learning a campus-wide concern
- Design initiatives strategically
- Support faculty creatively
- Make a commitment to knowledge-building
- Recognize that institutionalization is a long-term process
- Build networks beyond campus for collaboration and exchange.
UNC’s University College is announcing a continuing competitive course development program designed to aid faculty in building integrative partnerships which will involve seed money for course development as well as administrative support. The projected timeline for implementation of the continuing phase of this program will be fall 2012 or spring 2013, and the deadline for applications for the first round of the competition must be received by the Office of the Dean of University College by January 1, 2012. For those faculty interested in applying for this program, an application form may be found here: Integrated Learning Partnerships Application.