September 2010 Archives
For over fourteen years, the Liberal Studies BA Degree Completion Program in partnership with the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies has been serving adult students whose work and family commitments preclude finishing their degrees through resident University class work. The program was founded by Hutchins professor Dr. Ardath Lee, who assisted students who had moved away from the area to complete their requirements. While independent study covered the content, these students were missing out on the seminar element so essential to the Hutchins philosophy of co-inquiry. Dr. Lee saw the potential of the then-new Web to provide a central meeting point for students of different locations and schedules. She worked with Dr. Mutombo M'Panya, other Hutchins faculty, and Dr. David Walls, former Dean of Extended Education, to create a new path to completion.
Our curriculum is simple but deep, anchoring the theoretical to the practical. Students take one ten-unit class per semester for four semesters for the major, and an advisor works individually with students on any remaining requirements. Courses are designed on the guided study model, with cohorts of up to fifteen students coming to campus one Saturday per month for a full day of seminars, lectures, and student presentations. Between these meetings, students participate in online forums at their convenience. Three of the semesters are organized around broad themes and use current events to delve into fundamental issues facing humanity: Identity & Society; Work and the Global Future; and Technology & the Environment. The program culminates in a self-designed Senior Project, which students use for personal enrichment, community involvement, and/or career purposes.
Throughout the program, students hone their skills in important areas such as oral and written communication in a variety of modes, analysis, synthesis, problem solving, and teamwork, which enhance their employment prospects. In the process, they form a close-knit learning community that gives support during the life challenges that adult students experience. In addition, the experience of planning and implementing a complex project and creating a formal half-hour presentation, unique to this program, is invaluable in helping students to explore and expand their capabilities, to push their boundaries and succeed, and reconnect with their own possibilities.
Our students come from all backgrounds and ethnicities, traveling from as close as Rohnert Park to as far away as Mexico. The average age of our students is 39, with our oldest graduate at 70; many of them have attended five or more colleges before discovering our program. Recently, the addition of a Spring cohort has expanded Sonoma State's ability to serve adult students despite budgetary uncertainties. We are pleased and proud that to date we have graduated over 200 people, some of whom have gone on to further study in credential programs and Master's degrees in diverse subjects ranging from Biology to Social Work.
One graduate's summary of the experience: "Personally, I've had so much growth; professionally, I've expanded my horizons in my work; and academically, I've come alive. Awesome program!"
SEE underwent a major change in web site design and administration this year. We moved to use of a Content Management System (CMS) named Moveable Type, a system that spreads the task of web maintenance across all of the department and changes the roles of users.
It is now possible for users to take responsibility for simple web updates to their own programs, for adding new pages inside a template, and for creating blogs, links, uploading documents or images, or other common web activities.
This technology brings our department in line with current trends in web technology, and brings a fresh new look to our pages. Thanks to art direction from Kerry Gilbert, SEE marketing director, we now have an efficient, streamlined design.
Our webmistress, Lee Brewster, says "We're excited to be the first on campus to use Moveable Type [the CMS] and to take a giant step forward into a more efficient use of web and human resources."
Special thanks to the IT department for assisting in this important transition.