On the brisk evening of October 19, students, faculty, and staff gathered behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum to celebrate their interest in the Rollins Plan (RP). Ninety-four first year students accepted into the Rollins Plan and have registered for spring courses as part of this exciting new general education curriculum.
The Rollins Plan is a series of seven courses built around a “big idea,” and is an alternative method for satisfying general education requirements. The Rollins Plan follows the tradition of curricular innovation that the College has been recognized for throughout its 124-year history. The goal of the Rollins Plan is to teach students to think critically, problem-solve, and learn how to integrate learning experiences from across disciplines. Rollins Plan courses will engage students in applied learning both in and outside of the classroom as well as empower students with the knowledge and skills needed to address the greatest issues facing the 21st century.
When speaking about the Rollins Plan, Mark Anderson, professor of mathematics and Rollins Plan faculty liaison said that work for a new general education curriculum began at Rollins over three years ago. “The idea of the Rollins Plan wasn’t one person’s vision. It has been a process of gathering ideas developed from research, campus colloquies, and proposals involving faculty committees and students.”
The two Rollins Plan curriculums that members of the Class of 2013 chose from are Global Challenges: Florida and Beyond and Revolution. As participants in the Rollins Plan, first-year students are asked to commit to the program for the next four years.
Nick Brown (Class of 2013) became interested in participating in the Rollins Plan because he is a Florida native. Brown said, “I believe that Global Challenges will help me learn just how important my home state is.”
Faculty are also enthusiastic about the Rollins Plan program. “I like the in-depth design and integrated approach to the Rollins Plan,” said Professor of Biology Paul Stephenson. “It avoids the age-old problem of students of different years, with ranges of abilities, enrolling in the same general education classes. The Rollins Plan forms one cohesive group of students focused on a big idea.”
“The Rollins Plan is very developmental,” said Professor of Biology Judy Schmalstig, who will teach a class in the Global Challenges: Florida and Beyond plan. “As teachers and students, we get to collaborate together to work on issues. I’m excited about teaching and being part of the Rollins Plan program.”
This fall, Rollins Plan faculty developers met on a regular basis to focus on implementation including course assignments, assessment and innovative teaching strategies. Members of the Rollins Plan Implementation Team and Integrative Learning Agenda Group (ILAG) also met to identify unique opportunities to integrate co-curricular activities so that students will engage in a integrated learning experience both in and outside the classroom. Rollins Plan students have already been involved in a few co-curricular activities including service projects with Habitat for Humanity of Orlando, and Help of the Homeless.
As part of the Rollins Plan implementation, Peggy Maki, Ph.D., an international expert on assessing learning in higher education was invited to campus to work with ILAG members and RP developers. While on campus, she commented on how unique and innovative of a program the Rollins Plan is in creating an integrative and seamless learning experience for students.
For more information on the Rollins Plan visit the RP website and learn more about this next great academic tradition at Rollins.
-Mary Neville (Class of 2013)