Come Wednesday, the first class of more than 1,700 students will begin their journey through the new University Studies Program (USP) at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
But first, after years of research, planning and collaboration, faculty and staff at the UW System’s third-largest institution got together to celebrate the launch of the new general education program Aug. 29. Students will begin their journeys through the program during Odyssey Sunday.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of our campus,” Chancellor Richard Wells said to a team of instrumental UW Oshkosh faculty and staff members at the USP ribbon-cutting celebration. “You should all be exceptionally proud.”
The USP is an innovative redesign of general education that was designed to take student learning to a new plateau. The program represents the first, whole-scale redesign of general education requirements at UW Oshkosh in four decades.
The program is designed to get students, within their first two years at UW Oshkosh, exploring “signature questions” that connect to heart-and-mind values of the institution, preparing them for 21st Century global citizenship.
Tim Ernst ’07, is new member of the communication department on campus this year. Ernst said he thinks teaching within the USP will be a great way to interact with colleagues in new ways.
“It will provide opportunities for collaboration, scholarship and continuous improvement,” he said.
He’s also excited about the opportunities it will bring his students.
“It’s an opportunity for students and educators to explore and reevaluate the traditional approach to general education,” he said.
The USP is designed to take student learning and engagement to a new level by balancing more strongly connected academic experiences in smaller learning communities with community-based and alumni-partnered service-learning projects. The program will also connect students with and peer and alumni mentors. Additionally, experiences within the classroom and throughout the community will help students question, explore and connect through three “Quests,” or semester-by-semester journeys, centered on “signature questions” relating to sustainability, cultural awareness and civic engagement.
“The goal really is to connect big questions to course content to civic engagement,” said Michael Lueder, the community experience coordinator for USP.
The ceremony Aug. 29 wrapped up with a toast and well-wishes for the future of the program, which is already earning national recognition.