Leap Chat-Barbara Bren-Jane Ferencz-Part 1

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Big Ideas in the Core

What is the one thing I want my students to take from this class?

Every semester, I try to remind myself of this question — that, if students take nothing from Individual & Society but one thing, what would I want it to be? I think it helps me to remember what I’m trying to do with my Gen-Ed Core Course, and that content isn’t everything.

But maybe the bigger question is: What is the one thing WE, as faculty, want OUR students — all UW-Whitewater students — to take from their collective experience in the Core Courses?

What are the Big Ideas we’re trying to impart?

For me, the answer would relate to Only Connect, the reading I now require for my I&S students at the beginning of the semester. In the essay, William Cronon talks about education as a means of bettering the community as a whole, as a way of fostering a civic consciousness and a more collectivist conception of the world and our place in it.

So many of our students are here for a degree, a piece of paper that they see as a step toward an individual goal, an individualist life. Many of my students have expressed surprise at the idea that one should become more aware of and connected to and concerned about the community one lives in as a hallmark of being educated. And yet, I would argue that this is the very reason we want students to have a common educational experience in the Core — I believe that we are here to help students learn how to think, to put their skills and talent to use for a purpose bigger than a paycheck.

What do you think? What’s the One Big Idea for the Core, in your mind?

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Leap Chat-Barbara Bren-Jane Ferencz-Part 3

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