August 16, 2017
Lyndon and Johnson state colleges have received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation in Yarmouth, Maine, for $224,646 over three years to support the revision of the general education curriculum for both campuses.
As the colleges work toward unification as Northern Vermont University (NVU) July 1, 2018, faculty are revamping Lyndon and JSC’s separate general education curriculums — interdisciplinary sets of required courses outside students’ majors — into one program for both campuses. The colleges will maintain separate campuses after they unify. The new general education program will be launched the fall 2018 semester for the first NVU entering class.
The General Education Program Design initiative “provides us with the opportunity to refresh our curriculum, ensuring that our general education offerings are relevant for current student needs,” says President Elaine Collins, who is president of Lyndon State and Johnson State and will become the president of NVU on July 1.
The new curriculum will focus more on critical thinking and problem-solving. “The emphasis is on developing those habits of thinking rather than memorizing a lot of information,” says Sharon Twigg, Johnson associate professor/chair of the writing and literature department, who leads the initiative.
“We’re trying to make the general education program more exciting to students by including courses with more high-impact, hands-on learning. It will provide them with a basic set of skills they need to do well in their major and to do well as they move on from college,” Twigg says.
One idea being discussed for the new curriculum for juniors or seniors is two linked, upper-level courses that address a pressing issue such as climate change. The curriculum could also include such hands-on opportunities as work in the community, internships and project-based learning like a performance or research paper.
“It’s a lot more engaging for everyone to have students running the show a little more,” Twigg says. “Engagement is really important because we want students to stay in college and succeed. This is one program we hope will help with that.”
“Our goal is to build a program students will be enthusiastic about that makes an impact on their lives in a meaningful way. The guiding question that is the focus of the new program is: How can I make a positive impact in the world? The program will help students answer this question,” says Nolan Atkins, Lyndon and Johnson provost, who will become NVU provost July 1.
The grant also will fund professional development opportunities for faculty. Twigg and the other Johnson and Lyndon professors developing the new curriculum will present the revised model to the faculty at both colleges for feedback and approval.
The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after his retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.
On July 1, 2018 Johnson State College and Lyndon State College will become Northern Vermont University, a two-campus institution of higher education that combines the best of the colleges’ nationally recognized liberal arts and professional programs under a single administration. Driven by a mission to provide a high-quality, accessible, inclusive education for students in the state, the region, and beyond, NVU will begin recruiting in fall 2017 for its first class starting in fall 2018.