You don’t know how to dance until you step onto a stage and you don’t know how to build a home until you pick up a hammer, so why do universities mainly focus on lecturing students on theories and principles?
Southern Utah University has broken the molds of higher education and takes its students out of their desks and give them experiential learning that has President Scott L Wyatt saying that SUU is the best place to receive an undergraduate education.
Experiential learning has become SUU’s hallmark and is mainly conducted now through the EDGE (Education Designed to Give Experience) program. The program has students choosing their freshmen year between one of five centers that focuses either on community, outdoor, global, leadership or creative.
With a cross-disciplinary focus, the EDGE requirement can, indeed, help students find the cross section between their studies and personal interests and ambitions in ways they may never otherwise invest the time and research to explore. Because of this, SUU's students graduate from the University and EDGE program with a broader perspective of their knowledge and skills that will be applicable across disciplines no matter where their career carries them.
On Wednesday, April 2 the University College recognized 12 SUU faculty and staff members who promote experiential learning in its many forms and understand the importance of practical application and engaged learning. Nominated by colleagues, the awardees, in their many facets, promote students efforts, such as undergraduate research, leadership development, global engagement, creative endeavors and community involvement.
Wyatt said of the purpose of experiential learning, “It takes a lot more time to put down the textbooks and have students do a project. These faculty are continuing to advance SUU’s hallmark of having its students learn by doing because lecturing doesn’t always equal learning.”
Provost Brad Cook echoed Wyatt’s statements and went on to say that the main differentiating factor of SUU is experiential learning.
“SUU is the leading university within the U.S. with experiential learning, other’s are struggling to incorporate it, but SUU has been able to help students connect the knowledge and experience gap through the EDGE Program,” said Cook.
Those recognized at the event were Danielle Dubrasky, associate professor of creative writing; Rita Osborn, associate director of the Utah Center for Rural Health; Pam Branin, associate director of the Center for Community Engagement; Lynn Vartan, associate professor of music; Carmen Alldredge, coordinator of services for students with disabilities; Rea Gubler, associate professor of early childhood education; Shobha Gurung, assistant professor of sociology; Shauna Mendini, dean of the College of Performing & Visual Arts; John Murray, associate professor of engineering; Lisa Assante, associate professor of hotel, resort and hospitality management; Kevin Tipton, assistant professor of nursing; and Andrea Donovan, academic college advisor.
The Department of Psychology was then honored for its ongoing efforts to give practical application to its many students by conducting research projects and internships. Their students have traveled to Ireland and England to orchestrate sociological research.
Individual awardees were given $750 and the Department of Psychology was awarded with $2,000 to be used toward student scholarships.