Welcome To Coffee Talks 2015

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Link Your Classes Performing Arts DeptCampus Engagement Highlights

Bertolt’s Brecht’s epic theatre work THE GOOD PERSON OF SETZUAN provokes our two questions for Fall 2015:

What does it mean to be a good Person? And is it possible to be GOOD and stay GOOD, in our society?

I find these questions remarkable. They are relevant to all the disciplines of the college and can be examined differently through the lens of each one. They resonate on a spectrum of significance ranging from the very personal to the global.

On the personal level: I imagine each of us strives to be a good person, but rarely do we ask of ourselves or anyone else, what does that mean? In every field of human endeavor we are likely encounter situations that challenge our personal values. Often our simplest choices have ethical consequences in the world.

On the level of our college: We believe that education is a force for GOOD in our society. We encourage our students to be good people. What is the GOOD of education?

On the level of our nation: We are in the midst of a turning point. The values that come to dominate our culture will have far reaching consequences on global outlook and on the earth itself.

On a global level: How do other cultures understand or interpret the concept of Goodness. Can we change the world to make it possible for goodness to thrive?

Enjoy this Campus Engagement Through The Arts opportunity to extend the educational experience beyond the classroom and build community at Palomar College through a broad and energizing exchange of ideas.

• Add your class to the list of participating by clicking here..

• Join us for our Coffee Talk on October 8th following the 4PM performance of The Good Person of Setzuan.

• Offer extra credit for attending the Coffee Talk and or a performance.

• Commit to at least one class discussion on the two questions and how they relate to your discipline.

• Create some expression of the discussion that can be shared with other participants on our website, facebook, twitter feed, or Right Here On Campus (see next bullet). 

• Contribute your expressions to a sculptural display at the entrance to the theatre in the Performing Arts Courtyard.

• Some possibilities:

o What is a good person? – in eight words or 144 characters. Make lots of these.

o Characterize the discussion in 8 words or 144 characters. Make several of these.

o Share a simple statement or conclusion that came from the discussion. Whole class or small groups. Please share these as a visitor to our Facebook community page https://www.facebook.com/palomarcoffeetalks

o Generate a list of related questions specific to your discipline.

o Describe, express or articulate some of the pressures to act ‘badly’ or questionably that you have experienced. Individual or small groups.

o Help us create a site-specific public art piece in the Performing Arts courtyard – that will evolve throughout the semester.

o Share a response on our Tumblr page. Words & Images accepted. 

From: Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain by Mary Taylor Huber and Pat Hutchings published by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)

The impulse to connect is a universal human desire, and the ability to do so in sophisticated ways indicates intellectual and emotional maturity. While education has long been seen as a vehicle for learning how to integrate life experiences, formal study, diverse perspectives, and knowledge gained over time, the challenges of the contemporary world have brought a new urgency to the issues of connection and integration.

Integrative learning is clearly important for today’s college graduates, who will face complex issues in their professional lives and in the broader society. In fact, it could be argued that in most fi elds except education—from the workplace to scientifi c discovery to medicine to world and national affairs—multilayered, unscripted problems routinely require integrative thinking and approaches.

Thirteen years ago AAC&U, in collaboration with a number of the learned societies, challenged the educational community to reform undergraduate majors so they would provide students with sustained opportunities to explore links across disciplines and with the world beyond the academy (see The Challenge of Connecting Learning). Educational innovation has advanced since 1991 with the call for such “connecting learning” resonating with external pressures (from employers, from policymakers, from the professions). However, isolated innovative practices have not yet progressed to the point where connecting learning can take its rightful place alongside breadth and depth as a hallmark of a quality undergraduate liberal education.

Recently, in its report Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College, AAC&U renewed its appeal for an education that helps students become integrative thinkers and doers. The report argues that schools, colleges, and universities need to change their practices to develop students as “integrative thinkers who can see connections in seemingly disparate information and draw on a wide range of knowledge to make decisions,” students who can “adapt the skills learned in one situation to problems encountered in another.” This integrative capacity characterizes learners prepared for the twenty-fi rst-century world: who are intentional about the process of acquiring learning, empowered by the mastery of intellectual and practical skills, informed by knowledge from various disciplines, and responsible for their actions and those of society.

Campus Engagement Through The Arts

The arts provide an ideal vehicle for integrative learning across many disciplines. 

An artworks strives to express or capture some ‘concentration of truth’ about the human condition as seen through the personal lens of the artist and inflected with the values and culture of it’s historical context.  When we experience an artwork, the personal, historical and contemporary meanings mingle and resonate in us.  This creates an opportunity to react, reflect, examine and analyze the world we live in. 

The arts are inherently collaborative and social, creating an occasion for people to come together for a shared experience.  In the context of our college, the art-event compels us  to engage in observation and analysis from the viewpoints of many disciplines and creates an opportunity for the disciplines to speak to each other. In addition to the direct educational benefits to our students, the result could be a greater sense community, connectedness and excitement about the pleasure of learning.

The Coffee Talks project offers a structure and container to facilitate a wide range of discussions and interactions.  Campus Engagement Through the Arts has become familiar in small, elite liberal arts colleges.  I believe that we, at Palomar College, can accomplish these goals within a large, public institution.  Why not? Let’s do it together.   

Join us for our Coffee Talk on October 8th following the 4PM performance of The Good Person of Setzuan.


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