National report highlights BGSU program

A report released Jan. 10 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) calls on colleges and universities across the country to do a better job of preparing graduates for the global economy.

The report, "College Learning for the New Global Century" cites BGSU’s BGeXperience as one of the programs nationwide that is implementing a new set of principles of excellence in education.

AAC&U released the report from its National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative. The 10-year initiative began by bringing together high-level business, education, labor, philanthropy and policy leaders to consider the needs for higher education in the 21st century. The LEAP report identifies essential aims, learning outcomes and guiding principles for a 21st-century college education, and recommends concrete changes colleges can make to achieve those goals.

The BGeXperience program, which is designed to provide first-year students with a foundation for dramatically enriching their four-year learning experience, emphasizes ethical integrity, reflective thinking and social responsibility. The report notes that the program demonstrates "the principles in practice" for fostering civic, intercultural and ethical learning.

"BGeXperience introduces students to the practice of critical thinking about core human values and ethics as part of a broader context for learning," explained Dr. George Agich, BGeXperience director. Agich, President Sidney Ribeau and Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, attended the Washington, D.C., meeting at which the report was presented.

"This recognition is yet another indicator that a BGSU education is on target for preparing our students for the global community," Ribeau said.

Speaking to his advisory council Jan. 11, Ribeau said BGSU was central to the discussion of higher education practices, for which 20 colleges and universities—most of them private—were cited in the AAC&U report. Bowling Green has already implemented many of the effective educational practices the report suggests that colleges and universities adopt.

In addition to first-year seminars and experiences, such as BGeXperience, those suggested practices include:

• Common intellectual experiences
• Learning communities
• Writing-intensive courses
• Collaborative assignments and projects
• Undergraduate research
• Diversity and global learning
• Service- and community-based learning
• Internships
• Capstone courses and projects

"The quality of learning, not the possession of a diploma, will determine whether the next generation can keep our economy and our democracy strong," said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.

"By asking students to think critically about values questions without prescribing a specific set of conclusions, BGeXperience aspires to educate more ethically aware and thoughtful citizens,” the report adds. “Those who are interested can also pursue service learning, take upper division courses that explore values in the disciplines and even become BGeXperience peer facilitators later in their undergraduate careers."

January 15, 2007