Faculty add sustainability focus to revamped curriculum

Campus closer to Compass Curriculum

 

     In an effort to promote sustainability and strengthen the educational experience, UCCS will implement a new curriculum starting in Fall 2014.

     That quest for a new curriculum, referred to as the Compass Curriculum, started in 2008 with faculty goals for the general education at UCCS. The project then moved into phase two where a curriculum plan was formed based off of those education goals.

     Comprised of seven critical components and three integrated components, the Compass Curriculum, approved by faculty in Fall 2012, will be implemented into every level of student, based on a student’s year.

     David Havlick, associate geography and environmental studies professor, has been involved in the general education revamp.

     “We wanted to ensure the curriculum provided students with a breadth of knowledge when they come out of UCCS,” said Havlick. “Before 2008, it hadn’t been updated for 10 years.”

     Havlick said the faculty came together in order to facilitate the establishment of Compass.

     “We sat down together asking ourselves: “How do we implement these goals we have for students?”

     The UCCS student body was a large part of the process, Havlick said.

     “We also had conversations with students to see what was worthy and what wasn’t. A lot of them felt the general education classes were a series of boxes they had to check off.”

     Although the core writing, writing portfolio project and quantitative reasoning classes were already a part of the general education, and still are, new components will give the education a fresh look.

     Freshman will take “Gateway Experience” courses that will welcome them to the university, and provide an engaging environment as they begin their time at UCCS.

     Sophomores will be introduced to “Explore” courses that build on the “Gateway Experience.”

     “Advanced Core” courses will be implemented on the junior level, and a “Capstone Experience” will summarize everything students have learned. It will allow them to apply their accumulated knowledge gained from previous years and classes.

     These four levels will be added to the already required core writing and quantitative reasoning courses.

 

New: Sustainability

 

     Two new components, sustainability and inclusiveness, will also be added to the education curriculum.

     “Few campuses nationwide require sustainability to be a part of their education,” said Havlick.

      “We found that component to be important and needed to communicate why it matters in the long run.”

     Havlick, who focused more on the sustainability aspect of the curriculum, went through the general overview of how sustainability will be added into the general education with the main focus being the impact it will have.

     “We needed to put these two components into more thorough practice and each department had to identify how they will bring sustainability to campus,” he said. “Most [departments] have done it through the offering of certain courses.

     Vanessa Ferona, projects coordinator for the student-funded Green Action Fund, believes the Compass Curriculum will be good for students, both current and incoming.

     “Personally, I believe there are three elements when it comes to the realm of sustainability: economic, social and environment,” she said.

     “It is valuable for us to know, as students, what is available when it comes to sustainability.”

     Ferona and the GAF are key in helping students get the word out about sustainability projects around campus. Currently two big projects are underway.

     “We are in the process of approving a project involving 200 new water sense toilets to replace the original ones for Summit Village,” said Ferona. “We also approved the use of a greenhouse (to) produce 20 percent of our food products here on campus.”

     Ferona stated both of these projects will increase efficiency and increase sustainability.

     “It’s cool to see students caring because we want students involved on every project,” she said.

     The connection between organizations like the GAF and the new Compass Curriculum is one faculty members hope to see grow as implementation begins in the fall.

     “It’s fulfilling to see it finally begin,” said Havlick.”

 

     For an in-depth look at the actual Compass Curriculum, students can visit the UCCS Provost’s website at tinyurl.com/mnmjgtp.

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