The Allbritton Center is deeply appreciative of Beyond 2020, both in its particulars and in its ethos. The approach it embodies is that which Allbritton embodies—practical idealism, engagement, translational and transformative education–to enhance the ability of members of the Wesleyan community “to do work that makes a difference beyond the borders of the campus.”
That ethos, we believe, is what needs to be emphasized and developed in this next period. Whereas selecting individual programs or departments to emphasize in hopes of a resulting halo effect brings a number of drawbacks and dangers (as the faculty lunch discussion revealed), supporting and spotlighting the core values of engagement and practical idealism across the campus, interwoven into every aspect of who we are and what we do, will create a halo that is both all-encompassing and true to Wesleyan’s DNA.
The Civic Action Plan we will develop this year in collaboration with colleagues from across the campus will highlight and tie together the many ways engagement is already going on, while providing greater structure—both in the process of its creation and in the final plan—to support engagement as a core value and activating principle that guides work in many realms of the university.
Given the centrality of engagement to Beyond 2020, we offer these suggestions that might strengthen its impact:
- Enhancing recognition should include recognition of our ethos and core values as well as specific achievements. Wesleyan should be even more synonymous with engagement than it already is;
- Cohort and team learning should be emphasized, reflecting the organization of work most students will do after Wesleyan;
- Experiential learning should be thought of as a core component of Wesleyan education, and not only for capstones;
- Capstones need not be an endpoint. What comes after? As we have suggested in other places regarding internships, harvesting the lessons gained in a capstone (or any experiential learning) is crucial, and this might require capstones in the first semester of senior year;
- Providing a capstone experience for every student will certainly require greater faculty resources, as suggested in the draft of Beyond 2020, but it will also call for greater staff time, from department AA’s to library staff;
- Being an engaged university calls for engagement to be a concern in all spheres, from sustainability in the dorms to support of public scholarship. This extends to staff well-being, including salaries and work conditions, as well as to student and faculty concerns.
We applaud the direction Beyond 2020 points us toward, and look forward to playing a role in the ongoing development of the Wilbur Fisk vision of Wesleyan’s twin goals: the good of the individual and the good of the world.
Rob Rosenthal, Director, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life
Peggy Carey Best, Director, Service-Learning Center
Cathy Lechowicz, Director, Jewett Center for Community Partnerships
Makaela Kingsley, Director, Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship