The Promise of the Experiential Liberal Arts – By Tim Cresswell

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Experiential education, an attempt to break down the barrier between classroom learning and everyday life, has long been a staple of professional disciplines. For the liberal arts, the partnership hasn’t come naturally. For many liberal-arts faculty members, an education should be for its own sake, not for job preparation.

Nonetheless, it is common now for liberal-arts colleges to advertise their embrace of experiential, “high impact” forms of education. These generally include place-based learning during study abroad, internships, civic engagement, and undergraduate research. Fully realized, the experiential liberal arts have the potential to transform higher education.

Large universities have taken the lead on this change. For example, my previous institution, Northeastern University, is fully connecting experiential education to the liberal arts. The university’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities has defined a model that links traditional liberal-­arts strengths (critical thinking, cross-cultural competency, etc.) with the long-established strengths in co-operative education that Northeastern is known for. In addition, it has embraced new competencies, particularly in areas such as data visualization, that clearly overlap with existing liberal-­arts disciplines.

Many traditional liberal-arts colleges, too, are embracing, if somewhat cautiously, forms of learning that would have been unthinkable in an earlier era. While business schools in those types of institutions are still rare, there has been a recent flowering of centers and programs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. Such programs exist at Middlebury, Lewis and Clark, Bates, and Swarthmore, among other colleges.

At other liberal-arts colleges, some programs have long recognized the value of practical forms of education. Here at Trinity College, we have a distinctive, longstanding engineering program in which the very practical discipline of engineering is mixed with traditional liberal-arts skills. The logic for such a program is not simply to provide a practical route to employment within a liberal-arts context but also to bring the benefits of a rounded liberal-arts education to future engineers…

Tim Cresswell is dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Trinity College, in Connecticut.


Lori Riley: Trinity’s Anne Parmenter Always Looking For New Heights To Scale

Hartford Courant

Anne Parmenter is not just a mountaineer. She’s summitted Mount Everest.

She’s not just a runner – she’s run five Boston Marathons. And she’s not just a field hockey coach. Parmenter, who has coached at Trinity College for 18 years, will be inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in Florida in January.

But talking to Parmenter, 59, who hails from England, you might never know any of this. She is self-deprecating, with a terrific sense of humor, and she has a lot of stories.

“A lot of my friends have won national championships but I haven’t won one,” she said. “I joke – my friend [Nicky Pearson] at Bowdoin’s won four and my friend [Dawn Chamberlin] at Salisbury’s won multiple titles – ‘Ooh, now I get to sit at the big girls table, because they’re all Hall of Famers.’

“I feel humbled. Honored. I feel like I’m still that girl who came to the U.S. for one year and I’m still here. I’m waiting for that tap on the shoulder … ‘Hey, you don’t know what you’re doing’ – it’s a little of the imposter syndrome, you’re waiting for someone to find out you actually don’t know what you’re doing.”

Parmenter knows what she’s doing. She has 276 wins, ranked 12th among active Division III coaches. She coached the two-time Division III national player of the year, Kelcie Finn, the last two years. Trinity has advanced to the NESCAC tournament the last 12 years and went to the Final 8 last year (losing to national runner-up Messiah) and in 2009…


Kavanaugh, Ford Testify In Historic Hearings [radio clip]

“Where We Live” – Connecticut Public Radio

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, just hours after the judge and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified.

Joining us now to discuss Thursday’s hearings is Adrienne Fulco — she’s an associate professor of legal and policy studies at Trinity College in Hartford.


As younger Catholics drift away, the church considers what works

The Boston Globe

A member of the so-called Silent Generation and grandmother of 13, Mary Ann Keyes is the matriarch of a big Catholic family whose ties to the Roman Catholic Church — like those of many families — have grown more complicated with each generation.

While angered and saddened by the clergy sexual abuse scandals, Keyes, whose family is based in part on the South Shore, would never walk away. “The church means everything to me,” she said.

Her daughter, Kelly Carey, is 53, born between the baby boomers and Generation X. She considered stepping away after the abuse revelations of the early 2000s, she says, but weathered the scandals as a “roaming” Catholic, bouncing among different parishes in the area to hear individual priests she likes and respects.

Carey’s daughters, Katie Nivard, 31, and Reilly Carey, 24, are millennials, and their relationship to the church is more difficult. Both consider themselves Catholic, but neither attends church regularly. It is not the clergy scandals alone that have pushed them away, though that is part of it. They have also found other ways to express their spirituality and find a sense of community outside of an institution they see as out of step with the times…

Andrew Walsh, a religious historian at Trinity College in Hartford, said that despite defections, the Catholic Church in America is still huge and “not in danger of going out of business.” Still, society’s growing secularization is worrisome for the church, a problem made worse by the clergy abuse scandal, he said.

“In an absolutely unavoidable way, every time there is a big eruption of a phase of the sexual abuse crisis, there’s a wave of abandonment of the church,” he said. “It’s likely that is what’s going to happen in the short term now.”…