The Theme Semester is designed to promote integrative learning and to foster a sense of community and shared purpose. Integrative education has received a great deal of attention in recent years, both theoretical and applied, even though there is not a single definition. The American Association of Colleges and Universities defines it as: “an understanding and a disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and co-curriculum, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus”.
Specifically, the Theme Semester will achieve the following
1. Create a community of integrated learners.
2. Increase awareness of what is happening
beyond our borders.
3. Demonstrate how outside events impact
4. Integrate classroom learning with learning
outside the classroom.
5. Integrate learning across courses to foster
Besides these important teaching/learning goals, the Theme Semester will have additional benefits: 1) act as a catalyst for general education goals; 2) increase student retention; 3) create a more cohesive and collaborative teaching/learning environment; 4) heighten WSU's visibility in the community; and 5) generate new opportunities for external funding.
The theme for Fall 2011 is entitled “Worcester in the World”; its focus is on the processes involved in globalization and how the local and the global mutually influence each other. Its mission statement is the following:
In the current era social problems are increasingly defined in global terms. Threats to health, political stability, and the environment can best be understood as arising within a world that is increasingly integrated in terms of trade, communication, and transportation.
This complex interconnectedness also allows expanded opportunities for positive social change through increased democratization, economic opportunity, and conflict resolution.
Worcester in the World will explore the ways in which globalization is presenting new problems and opportunities, and will emphasize that the “global” cannot be understood without reference to the “local.” As communities are affected by globalization, so too they respond, resist, and contribute to it, in a mutually reinforcing cycle.
These complex processes require a deep and multidisciplinary analysis. Thus, Worcester in the World will involve students, faculty, administrators, staff, and the larger community joining together to investigate the problems and opportunities inherent in globalization.
Worcester in the World received a grant from WSU’s Strategic Planning Trust Fund. A number of curricular and cocurricular activities are planned for Fall 2011. In addition, we will put out a call to faculty and student groups to propose their own programming. (Use of the word “Worcester” is a metaphor for the local. Events, programs, course, etc. do not need to be literally tied to Worcester, but should embrace the local/global thrust of the mission statement).