360-Degree Learning

 
Colby’s commitment to residential education was reaffirmed in the 2002 Strategic Plan for Colby:

While the academic program is at the core of the College, we know that the educational program and experience extend beyond the classroom into places that students meet and interact… And so, as we seek to strengthen our academic program, we must simultaneously enrich and broaden campus life and culture. (A Strategic Plan for Colby, May 2002, p.3)

Colby 360 asserts as its guiding principle the idea that a residential college affords students opportunities to learn and develop in all aspects of their college lives. However, where traditional approaches to student affairs in residential colleges tend to focus on creating policies and procedures, Colby 360 establishes a setting for student life designed to achieve five specific learning outcomes: 1) development of life skills; 2) appreciation of and engagement with diversity and human difference; 3) understanding democracy and civic responsibility; 4) promoting wellness and healthy lifestyle choices; and 5) leadership education for the 21st century.
 
1) Developing Life Skills

In the 10 educational precepts of The Colby Plan, the College has clearly identified the central learning outcomes a Colby education is intended to achieve.  The precepts encompass specific areas of inquiry (e.g., American culture, knowledge of a foreign language, use of quantitative skills) as well as broad educational concepts (e.g., critical thinking, exploration of personal values, and the relationship between academic work and one’s responsibility to contribute to the world beyond campus).  The academic curriculum advances the precepts through course-based learning.  The student affairs program uses students’ residential and co-curricular experiences as platforms for promoting student exposure to and understanding of the precepts.

Specifically, Colby 360 focuses on four key sets of life skills:  1) communication skills; 2) collaborative/group-based work; 3) fiscal responsibility; and 4) problem-solving.  Detailed below are the four life skills objectives of Colby 360, a brief rationale, and examples of ways in which each can be achieved.

Objective: Promote effective written and verbal communication skills.

Rationale: Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential to success in graduate/professional schools, careers, and volunteer and civic involvements Colby graduates will pursue throughout their lives.

Example 1: Students or student organizations seeking monetary support for specific activities or events will be asked to provide concise (not to exceed one page), written proposals outlining the objectives of their events and detailing the rationale for the amount of financial support they are requesting.

Example 2> Students applying for positions as Hall Staff, COOT Leaders and on the Pugh Community Board or hall staff will be required to submit cover letters and resumes in which they articulate their qualifications and understanding of the job requirements of the positions they seek.

Example 3> A group of students seeking a particular housing option may be required to submit a one-page proposal and prepare a five minute oral presentation detailing why they are best suited for that space.

Objective: Promote collaborative/group-based work experiences.

Rationale: Collaborative/group-based work is increasingly prevalent in both educational and professional settings> Working in groups is often fundamentally different from working individually particularly as it relates to scheduling, distribution of assignments, delegation and interdependence, reaching consensus, and delivering an end product> Students who practice collaborative work while in college will be better prepared to succeed both academically and professionally.

Example 1: When the Student Government Association (SGA) wants to restructure its treasury and the means by which it allocates financial resources, it will be asked to convene a representative group of students to work collectively to develop a proposal.

Example 2: At the beginning of each academic year every residence hall will convene to develop community living standards that articulate specific quiet hours, membership in and responsibilities of hall councils, and expectations for conflict resolution within the hall.

Example 3: The Office of Campus Life will develop and lead community visioning/development exercises and team-building activities such as low ropes courses in which individual residential units will participate regularly.

Objective: Promote financial understanding and fiscal responsibility.

Rationale: Basic understanding of financial matters and fiscal responsibility are essential life skills for all adults> In all cases, Colby graduates will need to manage personal finances, and most will also have budget management and/or financial oversight as elements of their professional lives> Exposure to and experience with financial matters as part of student life at Colby will help prepare students for their personal and professional lives after college.

Example 1: Student organizations will be expected to produce accurate, detailed budget requests and funding proposals for both annual operating expenses and individual events.

Example 2: The Office of Campus Life will provide workshops on financial management and oversight for students and student organizations.

Objective: Promote understanding of and acuity in basic problem solving.

Rationale: Research about the current generation of college students indicates that while they have been highly programmed and involved in sports, cultural activities, and community service, in most of these endeavors adults have served in oversight and decision-making roles> As such, the current generation of students has had less practice in problem solving and conflict resolution than previous generations> To help students become more independent and self-sufficient adults we need to give them opportunities to practice problem solving within the context of their college experience.

Example 1: Hall staff and the Office of Campus Life will develop processes for responding to roommate or residentially based conflicts wherein every effort will be made to encourage the involved students to resolve the problem themselves> Professional staff will serve as coaches, mentors, and mediators in helping students to consider possible means of problem resolution and to develop strategies for implementation.

Example 2: Advising deans will counsel students experiencing academic difficulty> Rather than intervening on behalf of a student struggling in a class, the advising dean will help the student identify steps that can be taken to address the problem s/he is experiencing.

Example 3: In responding to parental/family member involvement in student problems, student affairs staff will strive to partner with parents/family members in identifying ways to enable students to resolve the matter themselves.

 
2) Understanding Diversity and Human Difference

Objective: Ensure that all Colby students have regular, meaningful, and active exposure to diversity and human difference in all its forms.

Rationale: The world into which the current generation of Colby students will graduate is increasingly pluralistic and “flat". To achieve personal success in the global economy and provide effective leadership in the 21st century, our graduates will need to be knowledgeable about cultural difference and adept at working and communicating with people who are different from themselves.

Example 1: The student affairs staff will create and implement incentive programs to increase real collaboration in the planning and execution of social and cultural events by two or more student groups that normally would not be likely to come together. For instance, if SOBHU and the Echo staff wanted to co-sponsor a forum on issues of race in the 2008 presidential election, the Office of Campus Life could provide additional monies to enable them to cater a joint dinner where both organizations could come together to discuss and plan the event.

Example 2: The Office of Campus Life is introducing a new approach to residential programming that focuses on getting groups of students who live together to jointly attend lectures, performances and cultural events on campus being sponsored by academic departments and student groups. Particular emphasis is being given to adding interactive elements before or after such events wherein students will have to be active participants in exploration of issues of difference.

Example 3: The Office of Campus Life has been charged with exploring ways in which the housing structure (i.e. the distribution of students throughout the residential system) and selection process can play a role in advancing understanding of diversity and difference among students.

Example 4: Particular attention is being paid to identifying ways that the broader campus community can engage with and benefit from the increasing representation of international students and students from historically underrepresented groups (e.g. ALANA, LGBTQ, and first generation college students) at Colby.   

Example 5: The counseling center is leading the development and implementation of a program on meditation and mindfulness. The mediation and mindfulness program helps students develop skills that improve self-understanding and awareness through meditation and mindfulness practices most commonly associated with eastern cultures and religions. The mindfulness project also includes connections with the academic curriculum in courses offered by at least three academic programs and departments (psychology, English, and philosophy).

 
3) Understanding Democracy/Civic Engagement

Colby takes seriously its responsibility to prepare the next generation of knowledgeable and engaged world citizens. Democratic citizenship is more than the exercising of specific civic rights (e.g., voting). Rather, democracy is a set of ideas and principles centered on the conjunction of individual liberty and collective responsibility for the common good. Many aspects of 21st century life can be isolating and emphasize individuality at the expense of collective responsibility. Through residential and co-curricular student experiences, Colby 360 emphasizes democratic principles and creates opportunities for students to practice self-governance and civic engagement.

Objective: Promote self-governance and active citizenship.

Rationale: Effective democracy requires an educated and informed citizenry practiced in the art of collective governance. Community living in a residential setting like Colby’s provides multiple opportunities for students to practice self-governance and community building.

Example 1: Each residence hall will be expected to develop and administer a democratically selected hall council. Hall councils will serve as “local” governments for student residential communities and will provide representatives to the campus-wide SGA. Hall councils will focus on community development and will be expected to identify ways in which individual residence halls can contribute to the larger College community through civic engagement, support of arts and cultural activities, and a variety of social opportunities.

Example 2: SGA will be expected to develop a system of checks and balances for oversight of the student treasury that emphasizes transparency and makes the SGA Executive Board and the Presidents Council truly accountable to the student body at large.

Example 3: The student affairs staff will seek to partner more closely with the the Goldfarb Center to develop more opportunities for Colby student engagement in local service work, local and national political involvement, and issues of public policy. A key component of these endeavors will be to introduce opportunities for students to reflect on their civic engagement activities in ways that call on them to draw on their classroom learning as well as their own political beliefs.

Example 4: Each residence hall will be expected to adopt and carry out an ongoing community/civic engagement project. Halls may choose to work with community or service organizations (e.g., food pantries, work with the elderly, youth sports, etc.) or they may choose to work on state-wide, national, or international issues (e.g., international relief efforts, campaign finance reform, renewable energy resources). The objective is to ensure that Colby students are aware of and connected to the world beyond Mayflower Hill throughout their time in college.

 
4) Promoting Wellness and Healthy Lifestyles
Objective: Promote healthy lifestyle practices.

Rationale: Understanding wellness and practicing healthy lifestyle choices are critical components in a balanced and well-rounded education. The health care professionals at Colby (both in counseling and at the student health center) are uniquely situated to help students to become informed and active participants in establishing and maintaining good personal health habits both at college and in their lives after Colby.

Example 1: Increase the number of directed student organizations on campus that focus on issues of wellness and healthy lifestyles. Groups like SHOC (Student Health on Campus), CER (Colby Emergency Response) and SASA (Students against Sexual Assault) have succeeded in increasing student awareness of important health-related issues. Plans are underway to create a student group to promote responsible drinking and focus on changing the student culture around substance use.
 
Example 2: Collaborate with the Goldfarb Center to provide programs on campus, which focus on public policy issues related to health care.
 
Example 3: Continue to expand programs such as the Mindfulness Meditation group that provide alternative approaches to managing personal health in all its dimensions: mental, physical, and spiritual.

Example 4: Provide opportunities for support groups on campus that focus on assisting recovering students (such as AA, Eating Disorders Support Group, etc.) in conjunction with the Chaplains.
 
5) Leadership Education for the 21st Century
Objective: Integrate leadership training and development into the residential/co-curricular experience for all students.

Rationale: All Colby graduates should understand their responsibility to be leaders in the broadest sense of the term. Student residential communities provide an ideal framework for students to learn about and practice leadership through workshops, community building activities, developing social alternatives, and hall governance.

Example 1: The Office of Campus Life is introducing Wet Feet Retreats (as in “getting one’s feet wet”) for first-year students. First-year students will be invited to attend day-long leadership retreats where participants will be introduced to fundamental leadership concepts and learn and practice skills related to group dynamics, conflict management, organizational communication, and running effective meetings. Additionally, the Wet Feet Retreats will introduce first-year students to the variety of student leadership opportunities that exist at Colby and the numerous ways in which the students get involved in campus life.

Example 2: Hall councils enable each residential unit to devise oversight structures and processes for student living communities. Students will select their own officers, delegate responsibility, allocate hall programming funds, and organize civic engagement activities – all of which provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.

Example 3: The Office of Campus Life is partnering with the Office of Career Services to develop a capstone leadership program for seniors. The capstone program will help rising seniors cultivate and talk about the transferable skills they have acquired and refined as students. Particular attention will be paid to helping students map out their last college year and plan their transition to the next phase in their lives.

Example 4: Plans are underway to offer an intensive outdoor leadership program on an annual basis. Interested students will apply to participate in a semester or year-long program covering the full range of skills and safety preparation necessary to lead a variety of different outdoor activities. The plan is to use this program to develop a team of highly trained and experienced student outdoor leaders who can in turn lead trips and teach workshops (e.g., in kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, etc.) to other student and community groups throughout the year. Additionally, the core group of leaders would provide an experienced and capable set of leaders to assist with COOT planning, training, and implementation.

Example 5: The Student Leadership Collaborative Committee (SLCC) began in pilot form this year. Comprised of two representatives each from hall staff, the Pugh Community Board, Student Programming Board, Student Government Association, Goldfarb Center Student Advisory Board, and varsity athletic teams, the SLCC will meet regularly to review activities, discuss leadership initiatives, and provide mechanisms for peer mentoring and review.

Objective: Enhance the annual Colby Leadership Institute.

Rationale: Combined training of student leaders from across campus promotes common understanding, reinforces the fact that all students are part of the larger Colby community, creates opportunities to increase mutual understanding among students of disparate groups, and enhances their understanding of leadership skills.

Example 1: In August 2007, on the weekend prior to the start of first-year orientation more than 300 Colby students involved in a variety of leadership activities, including but not limited to hall staff, COOT, Student Government Association, Pugh Community Board, and varsity athletics came together on campus for one day to participate in a series of interactive workshops and leadership development exercises. Future plans include extending the Colby Leadership Institute from one to two days and to invite more members of the Colby faculty, staff, and administration to lead sessions and participate in CLI programs.

Objective: Enhance and extend the emerging leaders program.

Rationale: Engaging students in leadership development early in their college careers leads to a greater level of student engagement in the full range of campus activities and more skilled student leaders in the junior and senior classes.

Example 1:During the 2007-2008 academic year, the Office of Campus Life will offer the third Emerging Leaders seminar program. Geared to first-year and sophomore students, Emerging Leaders offers interactive sessions that allow students to practice leadership skills (e.g., running a meeting, organizational planning, budget management) as well as in-depth exploration of issues including ethical leadership and effective leadership styles. Campus Life will be exploring ways to enhance the program with new programs, opportunities to partner with faculty and alumni relations to include new presenters, and ways to include more students in the program.