Ohio Wesleyan University’s faculty have launched The OWU Connection, an innovative curricular program that helps students connect academic theory with real-world practice in a global context.
The program includes four initiatives that enhance the impact and value of an Ohio Wesleyan liberal arts education. The OWU Connection prepares students to lead and succeed in an ever-changing world. The name, The OWU Connection, was inspired by historian William Cronon, who writes:
More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways. Every one of the qualities I have described here – listening, reading, talking, writing, puzzle solving, truth seeking, seeing through other people’s eyes, leading, working in a community – is finally about connecting.*
The four components of The OWU Connection are:
- THE OWU EXPERIENCE: This first-year course, still in pilot phase, helps new students to connect to the University, understand all of the options available to them, and make the most of their Ohio Wesleyan educations from day one.
- COURSE CONNECTIONS: These groupings of courses enable students to connect multiple academic disciplines and ways of thinking to expand and enrich their learning of single topics. For example, students may study “water” or “poverty” from social, political, philosophical, economic, scientific, artistic, and other perspectives to give them an understanding of issues that is both broad and deep.
- TRAVEL-LEARNING COURSES: These unique courses help students to connect to the world through short-term travel experiences that enhance their semesters of classroom learning. Courses change each year, but have included a trip to Greece to experience the origination and evolution of democracy as well as a trip to the Brazilian rainforest to study global-change biology.
- STUDENT INDIVIDUALIZED PROJECTS: These capstone projects, known as SIPs, allow students to connect to the future after they graduate from Ohio Wesleyan. Students prepare for what’s ahead by expanding theoretical classroom knowledge into real-world, hands-on experience through challenging internships, apprenticeships, and student research projects. Students are invited to apply for competitive, OWU-funded Theory-to-Practice Grants and smaller SIP Grants to support projects conducted throughout the nation and around the world.
Elements of The OWU Connection curricular initiative were recognized in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. According to the book: Ohio Wesleyan is “a shining beacon of what happens when a campus embraces collaboration in the context of liberal learning. … This is the stuff of higher education.”
* From Cronon’s “Only Connect... The Goals of a Liberal Education.”