SUNY Geneseo is achieving its mission, whether that mission is stated in terms of developing "socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world" or in terms of transformational learning.Transformational learning encompasses key elements of the college mission, and it facilitates prioritization in a climate of declining resources. Since joining the Bringing Theory to Practice Leadership Coalition in 2008, Geneseo has increasingly used the concept of transformational learning to define its initiatives.
The curriculum, the co-curriculum, student services, resource allocation, the physical plant, faculty and staff hiring and development, and assessment all make their contributions to transformational learning. To some extent this conclusion involves a re-conceptualization of existing practices, but recent initiatives such as the Six Big Ideas and the Bringing Theory to Practice activities have also sought to incorporate new practices into the college.
By most measures, the college is succeeding in its goal to "provide every student the highest quality education." This success is clearest in the case of academic success and less clear in terms of civic engagement and social/emotional development. Demonstration projects such as Real World Geneseo and Extreme Learning courses have been designed specifically to achieve these other transformational outcomes and have shown positive results. As the college moves ahead, it is important to continue this progress by developing ways in which these outcomes can be achieved on a broader scale and in which all progress can be assessed explicitly. The current charge to the General Education Committee and the proposed Center for Inquiry, Discovery, and Leadership are examples of initiatives with this potential.
This self-study contains several recommendations that point the way to advance transformational learning. They include:
- Continue searching for ways to increase transformational learning in a climate of diminished resources (Chapter 1).
- Incorporate selected recommendations from the Six Big Ideas into the college strategic plan (Chapter 1).
- Advance understanding of the relevance and importance of "tradition" and "co-curricular activities" (Chapter 1).
- Support faculty who make changes in curricular offerings (Chapter 2).
- Better coordinate advising, tutoring, and internships (Chapter 3).
- Review, re-structure and develop first-year programs (Chapter 3).
- Request increases in existing fees and develop new fees pursuant to the new Board of Trustees fee policy (e.g., lab fees, instructional cluster fees) (Chapter 4).
- Include specific references to transformational learning outcomes in the college strategic plan, in academic program learning outcomes, and in student support goals (Chapter 4).
- Prioritize transformational learning in the budget process (Chapter 4).
- Reconsider the faculty advancement and reward structure in terms of transformational learning (Chapter 4).
- Continue to develop and grow the open and supported information technology and data security on campus to develop transformational learning possibilities for campus constituents (Chapter 5).
- Increase faculty and staff professional development opportunities (Chapter 5).
- Improve the communication of key transformational learning outcomes to students (Chapter 6).
- Improve communication of learning outcomes to students by publishing them in the Bulletin and on the college website (Chapter 6).
The current budget context will present an enormous challenge to Geneseo as it takes these and other steps in its continued pursuit of excellence. Geneseo will meet that challenge by re-affirming the values that have served it so long and so well. It will re-invigorate its tradition of changing students' lives by adopting the innovative, creative practices that mark the frontier of thoughtful, imaginative, responsible, and effective educational practice today. Relying on its strength and diversity as a community, it will make this moment of crisis an opportunity to re-assert its mission with renewed dedication, energy, and purpose. To the best of its ability, and with the highest integrity, it will continue to serve both its students and the broader public.