India Woof, Engaged Curriculum Project Assistant, tells us about synergies between the Engaged Curriculum and Achieve More.
The University’s flagship undergraduate curriculum initiative, Achieve More, shares many priorities with the Engaged Curriculum, and although our project is distinct from Achieve More, there are naturally several areas of overlap. As Achieve More develops to encompass activities at levels one, two and three/four of the undergraduate curriculum, its crossovers with the Engaged Curriculum are likely to deepen. I therefore thought it might be useful to highlight some of the key areas of collaboration which have occurred during the Level 1 Faculty Challenges.
As Director of Learning and Teaching for the Engaged Curriculum, Professor Brendan Stone had a great deal of input within the early development stages of Achieve More (back when it was known as ‘Strategic Curriculum Change’). Brendan sits on the University-level Steering Group for the project, and has also been very involved within his own Faculty developing ThinkCreate, the Level 1 Challenge for all Arts and Humanities. Achieve More focuses on encouraging students to think of their subject within a broader context, be exposed to new ideas/approaches, work with peers from other disciplines, and to experiment within a ‘safe’ space. When its aims are broken down, it quickly becomes clear why there are such synergies between Achieve More and the Engaged Curriculum initiatives, as the latter focuses on encouraging students to engage with real world problems within their discipline, to relate their subject knowledge to the wider world, and to address issues of public concern.
One of the key areas of work which has highlighted the relation between the different projects is in relation to off-campus working and external engagement within the Level 1 Faculty Challenges. Brendan and I had already been working on the development of ‘Principles for Engaged Learning and Teaching’, to provide a set of broad standards and guidelines to ensure high standards are maintained within external engagement in learning and teaching. As it transpired, these draft principles related directly to the types of off-campus and engaged activities which were being planned for the Level 1 Challenges. This offered us an excellent opportunity to trial a review process for learning and teaching projects which involve external engagement and/or off-campus working. This process will now be evaluated and taken forward, hopefully in order for it to be expanded to apply more broadly across the institution, to support those who are considering setting up an engaged learning and teaching initiative. Brendan and I were both involved in developing this review process, and also participated in its implementation, being actively involved in the review of projects. This was a truly enriching experience not only for us as individuals, but also for our understanding of the engaged curriculum in practice.
Hopefully that gives you a flavour of how the Engaged Curriculum works with Achieve More – the projects are distinct yet inherently connected, and will continue to grow together and intertwine.