The Aspen Institute recognizes Connections as a fresh way to blend the liberal arts and business.
Professor of History Sarah Queen recently traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, to deliver a presentation to a conference sponsored by the prestigious Aspen Institute, as part of its Undergraduate Business Consortium.
During the conference, titled the Business of Teaching, Queen spoke about a key component of Connections—the Integrative Pathway. And her presentation generated serious buzz, even earning high praise in a post-conference article written by the Aspen Institute’s founder of the Business and Society Program.
“The College’s Connections program is definitely on the map in Europe, Canada and throughout the U.S., which is very exciting,” said Queen who heads up Conn’s Global Capitalism Pathway, which teaches students to address the practical, moral and ethical dilemmas business leaders face in the modern economy by incorporating the humanities into business-related courses.
“I spoke to a packed room, and there was a line of educators waiting for me afterwards, many of whom asked if I would visit their home institutions to discuss Conn’s program in even more detail.”
Modeled after the College’s centers for interdisciplinary scholarship, Pathways encourage students to ask a central, animating question that they will explore from a variety of perspectives and through interdisciplinary collaboration. During their second year, students choose the Pathway that best reflects their interests. Currently there are 11 distinct Pathways, with more in development.
The goal of the Pathways structure is to close the gap between practical preparation for a career and the development of critical thinking skills that impact virtually every area of the student experience, including their majors, minors, study away work and community internships. Students who have been engaged in the pilot program of the Global Capitalism Pathway say the interdisciplinary aspect of the curriculum has enhanced their experiences in some surprising ways.
“The Global Capitalism Pathway has completely changed my approach to studying,” said History major Juliet Levesque ’20. “It has diversified my major and taught me to apply things I’ve learned in the seminar course to all of my other classes. I cannot imagine my education without it.”
The College officially launched Connections with the Class of 2020. First-year students participate in specially designed introductory seminars, supported by a team of advisers who help them identify their interests and create personalized education plans. During their second year, students enroll in the Pathway that interests them most, or in one of the four center certificate programs.
“With the introduction of Pathways, we expanded the groundbreaking educational model of our centers to a much wider group of students, placing the College once again at the forefront of integrative education for the liberal arts,” said Dean of the College Jefferson Singer.