arts & sciences

arts & sciences

Collaborative Bonding
JWU Art Sci Erin McCauley & Kaitlin Blake

For the past eight years, faculty on Johnson & Wales University’s Providence Campus have been using a teaching method that’s becoming increasingly popular in higher education — developing programs that fall under the umbrella of collaborative or community learning. More than 130 four-year colleges and universities including JWU are listed in the National Learning Communities Directory.

JWU’s Collaborative Learning Program (CLP), run by the John Hazen White School of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business and The Hospitality College, allows faculty to combine classroom learning, projects and activities across disciplines. At the start of each fall term, about 140 business and hospitality freshmen are grouped by concentrations into classes of roughly 40 students. They spend the fall and winter terms together for introductory business or hospitality courses and English composition. Business and hospitality instructors are paired with English instructors to develop projects that combine writing and communication skills with business or hospitality skills.

English Professor Terry Novak, PhD, who runs the program, gives an example of a CLP assignment joining two disciplines. “Business students research how a startup company could be run in two different countries and which would be the best fit. Then they analyze the research and use critical thinking and English skills to write a final presentation.”

CLP students also go on industry-related excursions. Business students go to Taco Inc., in Cranston, RI, a manufacturer of HVAC products, and hospitality students tour the NYLO Hotel, in Warwick, RI.

The 15 JWU CLP faculty and staff are members of the Adult Center for Learning Communities (ACLC), and attend its annual Learning Communities Retreat every October. The retreat offers support and resources such as curriculum planning and best practices, for programs like JWU’s, held at institutions across the country.

JWU Arts & Sciences North Miami Ashley WhiteInspirational Speech Becomes Essay in ‘Guidebook’
When Ashley White ’11 submitted her introductory speech for her freshman Honors Communication Skills class, it was just an assignment. When the speech was accepted for publication in the fourth edition of “A Speaker’s Guidebook,” a text used in colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada, it became much more.

To challenge her honors class, Assistant Professor Carol Koris answered the call for submissions from Bedford/ St. Martin’s Press, even though the class had only met twice. White remembers thinking, “What story could I possibly tell that anyone would find worth publishing?” Her speech was not only well written, but touched on the universal question of what happens when our direction in life suddenly needs to change.

White, who has “danced since birth,” was diagnosed as a young child with scoliosis and was successfully treated. The illness returned while she was in Marymount Manhattan College as a dance major, and at an age beyond which people are normally further affected. She had to let go of her lifelong dream of dancing. “Choosing this experience to write about was a challenge because I was still very emotional about the transition I’d just been through,” White says.

A food service management major, White has turned her creativity into a passion for culinary arts and is writing her honors thesis on “liver mush,” a regional food from her native North Carolina. Aquaintances from the past who see her picture in the recently published text, sharing space with a speech by Bono, frequently contact her via Facebook asking if she is “that Ashley White.” While she is indeed that Ashley White, she is headed down a very different road than she expected while growing up. “It simply proved to me that opportunities await us no matter which life path we choose, and that everyone has a story worth telling.”
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