April 02, 2010
On Friday, March 19, the Office of Community Engagement, in partnership with multiple departments in Academic Affairs/Dean of Faculty hosted the fifth annual Summit on Transforming Learning on Rollins’ campus. This year’s theme was: Examining Opportunities for Integrative Learning, Innovation, and Excellence. More than 90 Rollins faculty, staff, students, and community partners participated in the day-long sessions.
The Summit began with a moving breakfast speaker, Professor Felix Kaputu, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kaputu is currently a visiting professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He spoke to the group about his involvement with the Scholars-At-Risk Program which places scholars who are experiencing political persecution in their home countries in academic appointments throughout the university system in the United States. Kaputu gave a first-hand account of how this program enhances not only campus diversity but also awareness of human rights issues and academic freedom. Kaputu has been working closely with a number of faculty including Assistant Professor of Anthropology Rachel Newcomb and George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Professor of Philosophy Margaret McLaren, in identifying ways for Rollins to partner with Scholars-at-Risk in the future.
The day continued with 10 unique breakout sessions ranging from Rollins’ alternative spring break immersion program Make Coffee, Not War, which examined how bringing water systems to 32 families in Guatemala, and assisting primary school teachers by improving computer centers, enriched the lives of the both the Rollins students and the Guatemalan community they served; to a session on “Way Outside the Box: an Experiment in Teaching and Learning,” led by four faculty members—all from different disciplines—who joined together to create an experimental learning environment to teach a two-semester course, Seeing Music and Hearing Art. Staff and students displayed posters highlighting best practices of integrative learning across campus. Some examples include the Florida International Leadership Conference, Rollins Immersion Programs, and peer advising.
Along with Kaputu’s discussion, the Summit also featured Sister Ann Kendrick, founder and Community Relations Director of the Hope CommUnity Center, who delivered an inspiring and rousing keynote luncheon address. Kendrick discussed her experiences with integrative learning through community
“Service learning teaches us not about how to help prepare for the world, but how to live in the world,” she said.
Kendrick commented that it was her experiences in community engagement and international travel to Guatemala as a young person that transformed her ways of knowing, thinking, and acting. Because of these experiences she was unable to live her life as she once lived, and committed the rest of her life to fighting for human rights and social justice. In attendance also included staff from Florida Campus Compact that traveled to Winter Park from Tallahassee for the event.
“The Summit provides a critical dialogue for our community about what a 21st century liberal education entails,” said President Lewis M. Duncan.
Micki Meyer, director of community engagement agrees. “It was an incredible day of discussion about philosophy and practices that highlight the very best of our college's commitment to educating students for citizenship and leadership. Integrative learning, innovation, and excellence are key components in our approach to education. Both presenters and participants at the Summit brought those elements to life.”