Replying to LO27178 --
Welcome, Chris. Perhaps we can share thoughts and strategies. I am head
of an effort at my California community college -- also a teaching-focused
institution -- to establish formal learning communities as part of our
effort to support and expand interdisciplinary studies. We have had a
surge in interest in interdisciplinary curriculum and collaborative
teaching, but currently lack a viable organizational structure to support
that interest. We have a number of currently "homeless" programs:
women's studies, ethnic studies, Honors, leadership. They don't fit into
the traditional discipline-based division structure. Like you, our culture
is open to this effort. We also have a growing service learning program.
The challenges are several:
How to create a new program without requiring too much (if anything) in
the way of new resources (CA's governor just cut $198,000,000 out of the
system's budget in the critical areas of equipment and maintenance).
How to establish a learning community that in essence is the R & D unit of
the college and promotes "out-of-the-box" thinking without (a)
transgressing the nation's most intrusive ed code, and (b) ticking off the
How to find the resources to make sure faculty have
thinking/planning/reflecting time that is actually compensated. (CA
community college instructors typically teach 5 classes or anywhere from
12 to 21 units. That load plus collegial duties, governance, etc., makes
for an extremely heavy workload under the best of circumstances)
However, I am optimistic that we will find a way to make it happen. A task
force I chaired did a study of the possibilities last year and issued a
report to the college, which was endorsed, but as I mentioned above, there
are few, if any, resources to make it just happen.
I'd love to share information. Harriett.
Harriett J. Robles
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