Scholars Learning Community Presents at the Association for General and Liberal Studies Conference

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The conference took place Sept. 22-23 in Memphis, TN

Former Scholars Learning Community members Katie Fields and Megan Schramm explained how they used observations to form patterns and draw conclusions to attendees of Webster University’s panel at the Association for General and Liberal Studies in Memphis Sept. 22-23. They conducted an exercise using several demographic, historical, and specialized maps of Memphis so that attendees could replicate their experience in their First Year Seminar of exploring a community.

The session, “How a First Year Seminar Built Communities of Learners Among Students, Faculty, University Leadership, and Civic Leaders: Webster University's Scholars Learning Community (SLC) Explores Webster Groves,” was a demonstration of the Global Citizenship Program’s mission to ensure that every undergraduate student emerges from Webster University with the core competencies required for responsible global citizenship in the 21st century.

The AGLS recognized the GCP with its Exemplary Program Award in 2016.

Fields and Schramm along with GCP program director and SLC faculty Bruce Umbaugh, SLC First Year Seminar instructor Kim Kleinman, and librarian Holly Hubenschmidt discussed both how this seminar and learning community exemplified the GCP and enriched a University-wide discussion led by President Beth Stroble starting with the Fall 2016 Convocation on “Building community from many identities, owning our biases, and choosing inclusion as we become more diverse.”

For 2016, Kleinman set a group project for his First Year Seminar to study Webster Groves from the several perspectives class members brought to the discussion. Stroble introduced Kleinman and the students to Sarah Riss, Superintendent (Retired) Webster Groves School District and Co-Founder of the Alliance for Interracial Dignity who quickly became a liaison for the SLC with the Webster Groves Community. 

Stroble and Riss were unable to attend the conference but were important contributors to the presentation.

The workshop focused on the Scholar’s Learning Community and more specifically, Beginning to Commence, the first-year seminar associated with the community. The course, developed and taught by Kim Kleinman, encourages students to explore informal learning through observations and pattern recognition and the belief that everyone holds specialized expertise that can benefit the larger community. The course begins with students walking around the campus and nearby neighborhoods, observing, and sharing their findings with each other to piece together a larger understanding of the history of the University and the city of Webster Groves.

The Webster contingent received much attention as the only institution to include students, and the perspectives of Katie and Megan were tapped in other sessions they attended. Twice the question was asked, “Does Webster always bring students to conferences?” The presenters were proud to say, “We often do!”

Webster International Network Schools (WINS) co-sponsored this year’s AGLS Conference.

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