Great feature in the current UA College of Arts and Sciences “Desktop News”. Jump here to see for yourself!
New College Celebrates 40 Years of Transformational Learning
In 1971, The University of Alabama joined many other institutions of higher education in opening an exploratory learning program that allowed students to design their own courses of study, free from the traditional constraints of pre-planned academics. The program, known as New College, has continued its mission of transformational learning and will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. Plans are underway for a year full of anniversary events.
Dr. James Hall became director of New College in 2002 and could immediately see its value for students.
“One of the things that was clear to me when I came here was the value of a program like this for highly motivated students,” Hall said. “But one of the remarkable things I’ve encountered is the different ways in which students who have not always had educational success feel empowered by being invited in on the decision-making process.”
In Hall’s view, many of these students have been searching for an opportunity to think. Often students are so bombarded with having to complete requirements that they do not get the chance to simply learn.
With this central idea of fostering learning as the cornerstone of the program, New College has developed over the years to now include 11 faculty members, 210 students in self-designed majors, 50 students in self-designed minors, 50 students in minors in civic engagement and interdisciplinary environmental studies and nearly 400 students in New College Life Track, the adult education program formerly known as the External Degree program.
Another hallmark of the New College student is how they often are able to see trends before anyone else. This has been true at UA. UA’s recent sustainability and “Go Green” efforts follow recycling programs initiated by New College students decades ago. In fact, New College was ranked in The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 311 Green Colleges” as one of the country’s top institutions for environmental initiatives.
But what is more important, Hall said, is not what New College students do while they are at UA, but rather what they bring to the greater community when they leave. New College has produced more than its fair share of doctors, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs and civic leaders. As Hall noted, there are too many success stories to name. But with its 40th anniversary year, they hope to bring some of those success stories back to the Capstone to speak to current New College students.
This month, New College will host an anniversary weekend beginning with a concert at 2 p.m. on August 20 in the Recital Hall of the Moody Music Building with internationally acclaimed harpist and composer, Anne LeBaron, a New College alumna, and current New College faculty member Andrew Dewar. Following the concert, there will be a reception in front of Lloyd Hall, New College’s home since 2009. On August 21, there will be a pancake breakfast in the New College lounge at 11 a.m. and seminars with New College faculty members throughout the afternoon. Also in the month of August, the Ferguson Center Gallery will hold an exhibit of New College photographers including Wayne Sides, Mary Rachel Fanning, and Barbara Lee Black.