[UPDATE] Creating "Contact Zones" for General Studies Learning Communities
While General Studies Programs--as Eric Platt's New York Times article "General Studies Moves to the Mainstream" attests--have begun to transcend their initial status as obscure, niche programs, anecdotal evidence suggests that General Studies' students and faculty still struggle with an institutional prejudice that consigns these programs as a dumping ground for "high school graduates [whose]academic success [has] fallen short of their peers" (Platt). Additionally, the very support structures of General Studies programs that enable these students to succeed in college-- smaller classes, close faculty tutoring , mentoring and advising--reinforce, ironically, institutional prejudice against these programs and its members. Despite sometimes soaring enrollment, General Studies programs have remained on the "margins" of college campuses.
The proceeding round table discussion will address ways that General Studies programs can create contact zones--academic and/or intellectual spaces outside the confines of these lower-division programs-- which encourage student and faculty integration at larger academic institutions without abandoning the successful learning communities of the program. Our discussion will address, but not be limited to, the following concerns:
1) Since General Studies programs tend "to be interdisciplinary and foundational, with emphasis on writing" what courses should these programs offer as part of a "modern" core education? How can GS faculty promote the value of this "core work" to a institutional system that values specialization and may no longer privilege reading and writing skills in the same, past manner?
2) How can General Studies faculty become visible outside the realm of their programs? In an era when the traditional value of the humanities curriculum has come under attack, what creative ways can we find for a reading and writing based faculty to find status when it is not attached to a degree based program?
Please submit a brief description of your presentation by 9/30 to firstname.lastname@example.org.