Project Abstract

The Finding Your Place (FYP) first year program integrates an academically rigorous place-based course with faculty advising and peer mentoring within the residential setting. This place-based focus highlights Sewanee’s the domain, our community and our southern heritage, as well as fosters skills in synthetic integrative thinking. As such, FYP aims to provide a grounded introduction to college life that uses place to engage students both academically and socially, anchoring them to our community while helping them appreciate connections to the wider world. In its third and final year of as a pilot, the program must become sustainably integrated into the academic curriculum so that it can expand and flourish, offering a profound and unique introduction to our campus and the rich culture surrounding this place. This proposal requests support for a planning workshop to be held in May 2015 that aims to expand the participating faculty base and prepare for a sustainable transition from pilot to integrated curricular program.

Project Alignment with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies

Not only are FYP freshmen introduced Sewanee and the surrounding communities during their first 10 days on campus, but through interdisciplinary examination, they delve into the complexity of our communities, learning about the history, culture, ecology, religion and economies of local places. The program has proven to be an excellent early student gateway to community engagement. Through The program introduces freshmen to Sewanee and surrounding communities before their academic semester begins. Some FYP sections introduce community engagement into the curriculum, and many FYP freshmen choose community-based endeavors as their capstone project. As a result, we have seen that more FYP freshmen begin community engagement earlier, and continue it as sophomores as part of the Sewanee experience. Finally, FYP promotes interdisciplinary among faculty and serves as both an excellent tool for faculty development and an incubator for interdisciplinary collaborations. In preparation to teach the course, faculty conduct field trips in and around our surrounding communities, each sharing their disciplinary perspective so that we all arrive at a deeper and broader understanding of our place. Many faculty research/teaching collaborations have been initiated as a result of FYP.

Project Impact

This proposal requests Mellon Collaborative funding to help support a planning workshop for past, present and future FYP faculty. The goal of the workshop is threefold (1) to help current FYP faculty plan for our last pilot year, (2) develop a “cadre” of FYP faculty who can rotate in and out of the program and introduce it to other faculty (3) to plan for the transition from pilot to sustained curricular program. For these reasons, we will bring faculty who taught in the program in the previous two years together with faculty who intend to teach in the program next year. In this way, successful methods and seasoned perspectives can help guide new faculty in course development. Considering the varied perspectives brought by faculty of differing experience levels, we will map a pragmatic course that helps ensure that this program continues and expands to offer Sewanee freshmen this profound introduction to college life and community. The deliverables for this project include a proposed plan of action to integrate the FYP program into the academic curriculum that will be submitted to the Dean of the College and faculty for review.