Based on that deep dive into the needs of society and our students, Unity College has launched an ambitious new project to redesign the early college experience to:

  • Honor learning wherever it happens, whether that is in a classroom, in the field solving real-world sustainability problems, or on the job.
  • Create immersive, intensive experiences with a flexible calendar that lets students who work hard complete a bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years.
  • Allow students to earn stackable credentials that represent relevant professional skills to employers.

There is much work to do! Follow the progress of the First Two Years project here to see how Unity College is taking a leadership role in creating a new college for the environmental century.

March 16, 2018

From: Dr. Erika Latty and Dr. Sarah Cunningham
To: The Unity College Community

Dear Unity College Community,

While the weather this week threw a small kink in our plans by cancelling a planned visit by Dr. Ron Mahurin, we have been moving ahead with the F2Y initiative on a number of fronts.

  • We’ve identified a set of higher education experts and innovation leaders that Dr. Mahurin has begun conducting in depth interviews with so that our project can benefit from their experience and expertise.
  • We have applied for inclusion in the next phase of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers’ Comprehensive Learner Records project.  Funded by the Lumina Foundation, this ambitious initiative strives to create a framework and standards for schools to use in designing extended or enhanced transcripts that capture co-curricular and professional learning in addition to the formal curriculum.  This is just what we will need in order to represent the transdisciplinary learning our students will do in the F2Y program.  They are expanding from a successful pilot program, whose results you can read about here: Comprehensive Student Record Project: Final Report.
  • We have both upperclass and freshmen student focus groups arranged for Dr. Mahurin’s next visit, so that our decisions can incorporate the perspective of students engaged in environmental education. These will complement a more extensive set of surveys and web panels conducted with community college and high school students by Stamats in the second phase of our work with them.
  • We continue to work on outcomes definition with faculty, specifically members of the Curriculum Planning and Assessment and Academic Leadership Committees, with the goal of adopting a new set of College-wide Learning Outcomes this year that fully realize our sustainability science framework and serve as the scaffold upon which we can build more detailed expectations for students learning in the F2Y program.

If you have questions or are looking to get involved in these efforts, please reach out and let us know!

February 14, 2018

From: Dr. Erika Latty and Dr. Sarah Cunningham
To: The Unity College Community

During the last several months, we have been collating our community efforts on the First Two Year Initiative, to develop a framework to build out the vision for a novel curriculum that is relevant, accessible, and valuable for our students as they prepare for meaningful careers.  This academic year, a variety of stakeholder groups have provided valuable input during both August 2017 and January 2018 professional development sessions to inform this concept.

Of course this work has considered and built upon insights developed through the Strategic Branding Initiative (also referred to as the Deep Dive) and is framed by outcomes developed by the First Two Year Committee.  The work is further guided by our strategic plan (G1: OB1: INITIATIVE 001) to integrate curricular, co-curricular, and residential components of the first two years of Unity College experience into a transformative and developmentally differentiated living and learning experience through Sustainability Science.

Recently we announced our partnership with Stamats and Dr. Ron Mahurin to advance the discovery, design, and implementation phases of this flagship initiative. Last week we were fortunate to have Dr. Mahurin on campus to engage with some of the key faculty and staff constituencies involved in this process. We also leveraged this opportunity to consider how the first two year initiative dovetails with our definition of innovation at Unity College.  This is an important moment for each of us to consider how to best align our work with this institutional priority.

Our work to date, coupled with secured funding support from the Davis Foundation, has led us to developing the goal of launching the redesigned first two year experience in Fall 2020.  Between now and Fall 2020 there are many conversations to unfold, questions to answer, and accountability to realize.

Thank you to everyone who met with Ron during his visit and provided valuable input and perspectives on the decisions before us.  We had the opportunity to meet with the President, Chiefs, School Deans, First Two Year Committee, Student Support staff, Career Services staff, and members of the Curriculum Assessment and Planning Committee, Strategic Academic Leadership Team, and the Academic Leadership Team.

There will be additional opportunities to meet with Ron later in the semester.  Be assured, that we will all be involved in the steps along the way.  Please don’t hesitate to stop, consider, and ask questions as we make progress towards our ultimate goal of increasing the accessibility of a Unity College education and building a citizenry informed by the principles of Sustainability Science.  Please make room for this initiative in your daily work lives.  When prioritizing projects, consider how they advance our realization of a newly designed first two year experience for our students.