The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the College’s new curriculum

Students will select one of several pathways as part of the new education curriculum, Connections.
Students will select one of several pathways as part of the new education curriculum, Connections.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has called Connecticut College’s new education curriculum, Connections, a model of integrative learning that stands out for its student-driven academic approach.

Connecticut College is among a select number of colleges and universities that have reimagined general education from a “checkbox” style of course selection toward a more interdisciplinary and purposeful approach to a liberal arts education. Connections launches this fall with the class of 2020.

Conn’s approach, however, differs from other programs because it focuses on a student-driven model of academic inquiry. Starting in their sophomore year, students will work with advisers to develop an individual question, called an animating question, that they will try to answer over five courses by making interdisciplinary connections.

"The beauty of this is that the students own their own question," Jefferson A. Singer, dean of the college, told The Chronicle.

As they are developing their animating question, students will also select one of several pathway options to refine their interdisciplinary focus. Pathways include public health, global capitalism, and peace and conflict, and more are in the works.

Kathy J. Wolfe, vice president for integrative liberal learning and the global commons for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, told The Chronicle that interest in integrative learning has become widespread.

"Students and faculty need to be able to practice making these connections among ideas, synthesizing multiple perspectives, and translating that learning into new situations," Wolfe said.

The goal of integrated learning, like Connections, is for students to ultimately gain valuable critical-thinking skills that will translate into success beyond college.

"We want to help students become the kind of thinkers they’ll need to be out in the world today,” Singer said.

In addition to The Chronicle, Connections has been featured by Inside Higher Ed and The Day newspaper.

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August 8, 2016