Three IDIP working groups to help to transition Marlboro College students

Associate+Professor+Vashlishan+Murray+said+the+Liberal+Arts+Curriculum+Committee+will+have+proposals+for+the+IDIP+process+and+curriculum+ready+by+Feb.+14.+Photo+credit%3A+Yongze+Wang
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Three IDIP working groups to help to transition Marlboro College students

Associate Professor Vashlishan Murray said the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee will have proposals for the IDIP process and curriculum ready by Feb. 14. Photo credit: Yongze Wang

Associate Professor Vashlishan Murray said the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee will have proposals for the IDIP process and curriculum ready by Feb. 14. Photo credit: Yongze Wang

Associate Professor Vashlishan Murray said the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee will have proposals for the IDIP process and curriculum ready by Feb. 14. Photo credit: Yongze Wang

Associate Professor Vashlishan Murray said the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee will have proposals for the IDIP process and curriculum ready by Feb. 14. Photo credit: Yongze Wang

By Ashley Onnembo and Carlee Bronkema

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The college introduced three working groups this academic year which will transform the Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program to accommodate and recruit current Marlboro College students, according to a college official.

The three working groups—the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee, the Liberal Arts Council, and the President and Provost’s Advisory Committee—are planning to move the IDIP advising and approval process into the Liberal Arts Council, Associate Professor Amy Vashlishan Murray told the Beacon. As a result, the liberal arts faculty will play a more active role in assisting students who wish to focus on interdisciplinary studies for the new IDIP mechanism.

Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Ansell said the new IDIP process will allow Marlboro students to focus on liberal arts without having to combine majors within departments.

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“The old IDIP allowed a student to combine two or more departments or an institute and a department,” Ansell said in an interview. “The Marlboro IDIP opens a new option, which is that the IDIP can exist wholly within the Liberal Arts. Our hope is that no matter what, the IDIP will reflect Emerson’s specialized fields. It will no longer require an institute with a department in order to go through the approval process.”

Chair of the Liberal Arts Curriculum Committee Vashlishan Murray said the committee will have proposals for the IDIP process and curriculum ready for the Liberal Arts Council by Feb. 14. The proposals will be reviewed by the Academic Cabinet and the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

“I think our proposal would include a framework or spine of new courses that would help introduce interdisciplinarity, help build skills, and thinking about creating an independent program of interdisciplinary studies, and would potentially include capstone projects,” Vashlishan Murray said.

Ansell will coordinate Emerson’s working groups. Wyatt Oswald, the director of faculty development in the institute, Sam Binkley, chair of developmental promotion and tenure committee, and Jamie Lichtenstein, the affiliated faculty representative to the Liberal Arts Council will discuss and recommend curricular adjustments for the IDIP.

The President and the Provost’s Advisory Committee will provide advice, feedback, and guidance to the president and provost on academic matters related to the Emerson and Marlboro alliance.

There have been discussions within the working groups during their meetings about IDIP clusters, which would regard certain thematic areas such as the social sciences or the arts. Vashlishan Murray said this would allow students to utilize the strengths of current degree programs while also exploring liberal arts and interdisciplinary courses.

“It’s still very much an open question about how [clusters] would intersect with the existing IDIP,” Vashlishan Murray said. “I think we very much want and should preserve what it is that the IDIP does now, which is primarily to allow students to bridge two majors in the schools [of Communication and Arts]. But there could be some important synergies with that sort of core of this new curriculum.”

The Institute will group Marlboro students into a class of eight to 10 students with a professor in their senior year. These classes would function similarly to the 400-level honors classes at Marlboro College in which students have one-on-one time with teachers to discuss their “Plan,” which is a project that seniors must complete to graduate from Marlboro. It is often focused on what students want to do after graduation and is the basis for their junior and senior year curriculum, Marlboro student Hunter Corbett told The Beacon.

The registrars at both institutions are referring to each student’s degree audits to ensure that it is possible for Marlboro students to complete their programs at Emerson. Ansell told The Beacon that Marlboro administrators are working closely with each individual to see if other institutions, possibly those Marlboro College have transfer agreements with, may be the most beneficial choice for incoming students.

“There are a few [cases] where the focus of their study makes it more challenging,” Ansell said. “It is not known whether their faculty sponsors from Marlboro are coming to support their completion of plan, and maybe we don’t have the depth of course offerings in that area.”

Working groups at both colleges were created in order to focus on curricular issues that the colleges need to resolve in order to maintain the alliance. In a Town Meeting held on Nov. 14, Marlboro President Kevin Quigley said the working groups from Marlboro will include three representatives from the college’s community—one faculty member, one student representative, and one staff member. The groups also includes a representative from the town of Marlboro and someone from the alumni council. The groups will be co-chaired by a current trustee and the vice president of the board.

“[The working group] is really designed to be a very representative group for the voices and ideas of every stakeholder group,” Quigley said in a previous Beacon interview.

Since December, the working groups have conducted two in-person joint meetings, allowing interactions to occur on both campuses, Vashlishan Murray said. At the beginning of the semester, the groups started having weekly virtual meetings to collaborate on the framework for the new IDIP curriculum.

“Marlboro College is an equal partner in the conversations that are happening,” Vashlishan Murray said. “We’re trying to do two things here: both accommodate Marlboro students to find out if we have what they need at Emerson to allow them to matriculate, but also to create something that’s enduring, that is distinct from what Marlboro has offered in the past and that is true to Emerson.”