In the Fall of 2010, years after the original attempts to formalize an Education Research Center @ Olin
, it became clear that a good first step towards institutionalizing student interest in curricular innovation would be to leverage the existing Academic Faculty Committees which had student representatives on them. In that past I had served as a representative to some of these academic committees, and it struck me that not once did I recall ever speaking to representatives from other academic committees, despite often overlapping causes and interests. An attempt was made via CORe, Olin’s Student Government body, which already coordinated committee appointments to reorganize committees to make clearer relationships between committees, especially academic ones. The following post is about how we reorganized committees with this goal of energizing student perspective on collective action with regards to academics at Olin.
### Project Motivation
The motivation for this project came out of a long-term interest in formalizing, or institutionalizing at Olin College student interest in curricular innovation, discussion, and most importantly student empowerment through “personal ownership” of their learning experience at Olin. This interest materialized out of Olin’s practice of a regular “Curriculum Review,” which involved “throwing out the curriculum” and reevaluating everything every 5 years. For more on the history of Olin’s curricular development, see Olin’s Academic history page
. For further visual details about Olin’s curriculum see this post on Olin’s Curricular Vision
. The overarching trajectory for this project had three primary phases, first there was the Education Group Research Project
. The other parts of this initiative included this Academic Committee Representation Organization, as well as formalizing CORe’s Academic Director role
, which is discussed in a separate post.
### CORe Committee Representation Reorganization
As is shown in the presentation included below, the goals for this Committee Reorganization was to help CORe’s ability to communicate progress and updates from the various committees at Olin, though more specifically this was meant to help most with academic dialogue on campus among students. Initially the groups were based on similarity of committee mission or name, though in the end we realized that a better organization might be centered around the Olin Cabinet level roles, since this organization was more permanent and meaningful than the likely transient nature of Olin Committee names and functions. It was expected that representatives from CORe would help lead these groups, encourage regular discussions and updates from committee representatives to the CORe website. It wound up being the case that it was helpful to have someone already passionate about educational issues on campus help organize the committee representatives, and so Andy Pethan, (Class of 2011) was gracious enough to help with this despite being as busy as you can get with other initiatives. As a trial run, the organization of committees seemed helpful, though we didn’t necessarily capitalize on the benefits it might have had in the 2010-2011 school year.