Guidelines for Modules Including CULTURE or COMMUNITY Components

Recognizing that learning should not be bound by the narrow confines of the classroom, Centenary College has instituted a CULTURE and a COMMUNITY program as part of the Trek Experience. To meet the CULTURE requirement, students will interact with a living culture that is geographically isolated from the United States or culturally isolated from mainstream U.S. society. To meet the COMMUNITY requirement, students must complete a Service-Learning project that directly supports the community in which they will be studying.

Background of the CULTURE Program

In accordance with the college's recently adopted QEP, which was agreed upon by the faculty in spring of 2008, the CULTURE component supports the academic and social mission of the college because:

"The Centenary community believes that we can and should help our students appreciate the diversity of human cultures and therefore overcome ignorance and intolerance. This CULTURE program will allow us to achieve exactly these ends through intercultural experiential education. Equipped with a liberal arts education and intercultural experience, our alumni will promote compassionate clarity in the global community. This distinctive, experience-based program will enhance students' self-knowledge and social awareness through intercultural engagement (p. 28)."

The Trek Committee is the faculty committee responsible for overseeing the implementation of the college's QEP through the evolution of The Centenary Plan into Trek. Prior to the Trek Committee, the Centenary Plan committee provided oversight and through their leadership the following definition of "intercultural" was agreed upon by the faculty in 1994:

We understand intercultural to include a relationship with societies geographically separated from the United States as well as with subcultures within our own society. While it is relatively easy to recognize investigation of another country as intercultural, it is more difficult to define a subculture. We can say, however, that a subculture is a group of people existing within the mainstream of society that is distinctly separate from the larger culture by virtue of a different system of thinking, feeling, and behaving to which the members of the subculture subscribe. This is a broad definition and would include racial and ethnic minorities that maintain a separate identity as well as socially or economically-defined groups.

Background of the COMMUNITY Program

In accordance with the college's recently adopted QEP, which was agreed upon by the faculty in spring of 2008, the COMMUNITY component supports the academic and social mission of the college because:

"The Centenary community recognizes the importance of a healthy mind and body as well as the interdependence of people and the environment; we cannot truly educate our students without helping them see the connection between contemplation and service. That is, our students must not only practice ethical scholarship but also apply that scholarship to the needs of those around them. Centenary has as its purpose to cultivate in our students integrity, intellectual and moral courage, responsibility, fairness and compassion; this COMMUNITY program will allow us to pursue such creative practical application of classroom learning in service to others. Equipped with a liberal arts education and service-learning experience, our alumni will then connect their intellects to opportunities in our global community. This distinctive, experience-based program will enhance students' self-knowledge and social awareness through civic involvement. (p. 31)"

Learning Outcomes of the CULTURE and COMMUNITY Programs:

The learning outcomes of the CULTURE component of the Trek Program are:

  1. Students will describe the differences and similarities that make the culture under study an entity different from their own culture.

  2. Students will describe another culture's heritage, history, beliefs and values.

  3. Students will evaluate cultural differences and similarities as they relate to their own lives.

The learning outcomes for the COMMUNITY component of the Trek Program are:

  1. Students will assess the value of their own skills and abilities for civic and community engagement.

  2. Students will identify their roles within the community, recognize what responsibilities members of the community have, and understand the importance of civic engagement for successful communities.

  3. Students will know the importance of service, the opportunities for civic and community engagement, and the values of their larger communities.

  4. Students will analyze whether or not they helped achieve the program/project goals.

  5. Students will reflect thoughtfully and personally on how the experience has impacted their worldview and outlook on life.

The CULTURE and COMMUNITY Program Assessments

In order to determine if the learning outcomes for both the CULTURE and COMMUNITY components are being met, it is a requirement of all students who have participated in a module to complete one of the following assessments based on the program for which they are seeking to earn credit.

All Module faculty are responsible for ensuring that students who participate in their module complete the appropriate assessment(s). All assessments are due to the Office of Global Engagement before the end of the summer school term each year.

The Trek Committee's Assessment Procedures

  1. Trek Program Assessments will be given to the students separately from student/faculty evaluations and their completion is required in order for faculty to award a student CULTURE or COMMUNITY credit.

  2. To promote consistent evaluation of student responses, the Trek Committee will meet at the beginning of the semester to discuss use of the assessment rubric. Following this meeting, student responses will be distributed for evaluation.

  3. The committee will complete the evaluation process and return the evaluations of the assessments and any other suggestions or comments about the experience to module faculty at least one week before module applications are due for the upcoming year.

  4. To further ensure consistent assessment, student responses for each module will be evaluated by two readers. Specifically, half of the responses for each module will be evaluated by one reader, while the other half will be evaluated by a second reader. If either reader recommends that the module not receive approval for CULTURE or COMMUNITY credit in future applications, all committee members will consider the student responses to make a final recommendation.

Applying for CULTURE Credit

To help ensure that these objectives are met and that your module becomes eligible for CULTURE credit, faculty applying for CULTURE credit should answer the following questions.

  1. With what living culture will the students interact? How will this experience provide students with an intercultural experience? (The committee expects students to engage in intercultural interactions, which we describe as a personal interaction between individuals of different cultures that highlight different culturally-defined viewpoints, beliefs, and/or behaviors.)

  2. How will the instructor prepare the students to interact with this culture?

  3. In what ways and how frequently will the students interact with this culture?

  4. For an international Module, will the student stay overseas at least 14 days (including travel time)? For a domestic Module, will the student interact with the target culture for at least 45 hours?

  5. How will this intercultural experience encourage the students to think critically about their own culture and the culture under study?

  6. How will the instructor gauge the ways in which this experience will affect the students' conceptions of their own culture?

  7. How will the instructor measure the knowledge gained by the students during their study of the particular culture's heritage, values, histories and beliefs?

Applying for COMMUNITY Credit

To help ensure that these objectives are met and that your module becomes eligible for COMMUNITY credit, faculty applying for COMMUNITY credit should answer the following questions.

  1. What activities will the students participating in this module do to serve the community in which they will be studying?

  2. How will the instructor prepare the students for these Service-Learning activities?

  3. How many clock-hours of the entire Module (prep-time, actual participation, and reflection) will be focused on this Service-Learning activity? Students must complete a total of 30 hours of service-learning which can be comprised of participation in a number of activities including but not limited to direct service such as civic involvement, reflection, journaling, presentations or research related to civic engagement.

  4. How will this Service-Learning activity help students to think critically about their own local communities?

  5. How will the instructor gauge how this experience has affected the students' conceptions of civic engagement?

Duration Requirements of Modules Receiving CULTURE or COMMUNITY Credit

  • If applying for CULTURE credit for an International module, the module must last a minimum of 14 days within the target culture, including travel time.

  • If applying for CULTURE credit for a domestic or on-campus module, the module must include 45 hours of interaction with the target culture.

  • If applying for COMMUNITY credit, students must complete a total of 30 hours of service-learning which can be comprised of participation in a number of activities including but not limited to direct service such as civic involvement, reflection, journaling, presentations or research related to civic engagement and outlined in a faculty member's module syllabus.

  • Is you module NEW, OLD or OLD with Revisions?

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