International Educator - November/December 2013 - 20

tice, social welfare, and economic rights across national
and social boundaries." Crossing boundaries is one of
five "Intellectual Practices" that Arcadia students are
expected to develop across their college career, not just
as freshmen or sophomores (the others are modern
languages, quantitative reasoning, visual literacy, and
writing). In addition, they must have what Arcadia calls
a "Global Connections Experience" in which students
engage with a cultural context different from the one
in which they grew up. It doesn't have to take place
abroad; some students perform service in prisons,
schools, and refugee centers in Philadelphia.
"Basically what we did is make it so general
education is not separate from the rest of the curriculum," said Ellen Skilton-Sylvester, professor of
education and director of Global Connections. "Students can fulfill what used to be general education
requirements with courses in their major as long as
a course has a (global) designation." Arcadia came to
the realization that "we didn't need them to all walk
through a certain set of courses" to achieve global
competencies.

Peter Siskind, a history professor who chaired the
steering committee that pushed the reforms over the
finish line, said, "We wanted to design a curriculum
that focused on ends, learning objectives, and create
as much flexibility about means and specific courses
as possible." Siskind, as interim dean of undergraduate
studies in 2011-2012, also presided over some modifications to the curriculum, including tightening the
requirements for transfer students.
Overall, the core "is significantly better than what
we had. Big pieces of it work," said Siskind. "Like everything, it has its flaws. When it passed (by the faculty), it
did so with 93 percent approval. I'm sure that approval
rating is down some."
But he said it was "absurd" that in the prior curriculum, courses in the major were not allowed to count
toward fulfilling the core, he said. Forcing students into
the global justice and pluralism courses "bred resentment,
the captive audience mentality. We wanted to open it up
to different kinds of intellectual energy of the faculty."
And that has happened with a profusion of seminars
that take innovative approaches to global topics, in-

Solving Global Problems From the First Day on Campus

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR N O V + D E C .1 3

S

20

tudents are drawn to Worcester
Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
to solve problems, not just
mathematical and chemical
formulas, but real-world challenges . The
vast majority are engineering, science,
and computer science majors . All
undergraduates spend a large chunk of
their final two years working in teams
on open-ended projects . Half of the
students fly around the world to the
university's 30 project centers on five
continents, working with communities
large and small to tackle energy,
environmental, and other imbroglios .
WPI overhauled its curriculum in 1970 to
afford students these interdisciplinary
experiences and propel them into
careers as engineers and scientists .
In 2007 the university decided it
wasn't starting this soon enough . It
launched a two-course seminar for 100
first-year students to jump start their
introduction to research projects and

challenged them to tackle global food,
water, and energy issues from day one .
The popular Great Problems Seminars
now have room for 360 students, a third
of the entering class, with enrollment
first-come, first-served .
Kristin Wobbe, associate dean for
undergraduate studies, said the "gearheads" attracted to WPI already know
their career path . Before the seminars,
"we knew the first year program didn't
engage students enough . Students were
frustrated with having to take classes
when they came to WPI to do projects ."
Two, seven-week classes are taught
by a pair of faculty, one a scientist or
engineer with technical expertise and
the other from arts, humanities, business,
or social sciences "with a more humanistic outlook," said Wobbe, a chemistry
professor .
In the first seven-week quarter, "students and faculty together poke at the
problem and try to get a grip on why

this is still a big problem even though
we've known about it forever ." In the
next quarter, students divide into teams,
pick "some small piece" of the problem
and propose solutions . Some will build
on this work as juniors and seniors .
Provost Eric Overstrom called the
freshmen seminars "truly ground-breaking" and said WPI hopes to keep expanding capacity . Alumni have chipped
in to make that possible .
The response from students has been
equally enthusiastic .
The seminar "has given me skills that
will help me throughout my college
and professional career," said freshman
Kaija Roy . Her class worked on hunger
in Worcester, the second largest city in
Massachusetts, helping a local pantry
collect more waste fruits and vegetables
from supermarkets and distribute them
more efficiently .
Patrick Ford, a May 2013 graduate
and environmental engineer in Provi-



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - November/December 2013

International Educator - November/december 2013
Contents
From the Editors
In Brief
Core Values
Reawakening Higher Education in Iraq
University of South Florida: What's in a Name? The World
Foreign Student Affairs
View From Out Here
Forum
In Focus
Supplement
When a Student Dies Abroad
International Educator - November/December 2013 - International Educator - November/december 2013
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Cover2
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Contents
International Educator - November/December 2013 - From the Editors
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 3
International Educator - November/December 2013 - In Brief
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 5
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 6
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 7
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 8
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 9
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 10
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 11
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 12
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 13
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Core Values
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 15
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 16
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 17
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 18
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 19
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 20
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 21
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 22
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 23
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Reawakening Higher Education in Iraq
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 25
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 26
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 27
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 28
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 29
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 30
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 31
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 32
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 33
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 34
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 35
International Educator - November/December 2013 - University of South Florida: What's in a Name? The World
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 37
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 38
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 39
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 40
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 41
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 42
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 43
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 45
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 46
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 47
International Educator - November/December 2013 - View From Out Here
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 49
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 50
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 51
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Forum
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 53
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 54
International Educator - November/December 2013 - 55
International Educator - November/December 2013 - In Focus
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Cover3
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Cover4
International Educator - November/December 2013 - Supplement
International Educator - November/December 2013 - SCover2
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S1
International Educator - November/December 2013 - When a Student Dies Abroad
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S3
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S4
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S5
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S6
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S7
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S8
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S9
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S10
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S11
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S12
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S13
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S14
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S15
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S16
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S17
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S18
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S19
International Educator - November/December 2013 - S20
International Educator - November/December 2013 - SCover3
International Educator - November/December 2013 - SCover4
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