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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

In ongoing strategic planning process, group plots future of Carleton curriculum and student research

<art of Carleton’s Strategic Planning review process, thirteen working groups have been addressing issues facing the College since fall term. The Carletonian continues to speak with the working groups about their tasks and goals for improvements over the next ten years. This week, we spoke with Louis Newman, convener of the Curriculum working group and a professor of religion at Carleton. The Curriculum working group has been meeting every week since the start of the strategic planning process this fall. According to Newman, the group is “trying to answer questions like: where should we be going with our curriculum? How much student research is happening on campus? And how does our curriculum help students present themselves after graduation?” The topic of student research is especially interesting to Newman. “There’s lots of research on campus, but no centralization – no complete picture in one place,” he said. As a result, students may not know about opportunities to start a research project. The solution, he said, is to “promote research more, and teach students to make the most of it.” He suggests promoting research in the school’s admissions materials so that students arrive at Carleton with more information about research opportunities. Newman’s group also had a hand in planning the research poster session that took place in the Weitz Center this fall. For the first time in several years, the poster session included posters from researchers in the humanities and arts as well as the sciences, in an effort to show students that research projects are available in any field. The Curriculum working group also looked at the costs and benefits of Carleton’s unique academic calendar and of distance learning. Finally, it is looking for ways to integrate Carleton’s curriculum and the many school-sponsored activities in which its students engage outside the classroom. “Skills students learn in class, like analysis and problem solving, could also be useful outside the classroom – for instance, when coordinating a volunteer project,” Newman said. “Similarly, there are skills learned in any activity where you work as a team that can be applied to group work in class.” The group has interviewed several faculty members, including Beverly Nagel and Arjendu Pattanayak, the dean and associate dean of the college, respectively. “We’ve gathered a lot of the information we need,” Newman said. “By the end of winter, we’ll have all the information we need, and we’ll have a draft of our recommendations by the start of spring.” His group then plans to present its drafts at a town hall meeting open to student critiques. “The curriculum is a complicated issue,” Newman said. “If we held an open meeting, we would get lots of opinions but not much information. In our case, it’s better to start with a draft than a blank slate.”

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