QEP to Focus on Sustainability, Community
The QEP will be a coordinated curricular effort that immerses students in learning opportunities where they work on sustainability-focused problems drawn from the community, businesses, and government.
As part of the 10-year reaffirmation of its accreditation, Georgia Tech has selected a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for student learning. The QEP will focus on learning anchored in real-world sustainability problems.
The purpose of the QEP is to enhance the quality of student learning outcomes and the environment of learning. The QEP is directly related to the Institute’s strategic plan. It will have a detailed implementation plan and a budget for five to 10 years of
According to Mary Shoemaker and Rachit Kansal, co-chairs of the Sustainability Committee of the Student Government Association, students are increasingly aware of the challenges of sustainability and are acting on their desires to positively impact the world around them through available curricular and co-curricular activities.
However, to date, there is no coordinated curricular effort in this area.
This QEP will not only fill this void, it will also immerse students in learning opportunities where they work on sustainability-focused problems drawn from the community, businesses, and government. The capabilities that they develop in the process will translate to productively working, living, and leading in any complex, multisystem, multistakeholder, and multicultural setting. The plan will also help Tech operationalize its strategic plan vision and its mission.
“This QEP will enhance foundational classroom instruction and curricular opportunities,” said Beril Toktay, professor and Brady Family Chair in the Scheller College of Business, and co-author of the QEP. “It will focus on the establishment of experiential and contextual learning opportunities that emphasize connections between the real world and subject matter, such as project- and problem-based learning, service learning, entrepreneurial opportunities, internships, and co-ops. We look forward to developing a set of external partnerships to achieve this.”
Another important element of the QEP will be the creation of a supportive and engaged campus culture.
“A successful QEP will result in Georgia Tech graduates who have a deep understanding of the societal impacts of economic value creation and the needs of communities they live and work in,” said Ellen Zegura, professor of computer science in the College of Computing and co-author of the QEP. “This depth of understanding will not be attained when it is sought as an ‘add-on.’ Rather, the interdependence of economic and societal value must be integrated as part of our students’ core education, and our students must be challenged to work on relevant problems that cut across disciplinary boundaries.”
The QEP aims to help students, who are already sought-after for their disciplinary expertise, to become creators of joint environmental, social, and economic value throughout their lives and careers.
Reaffirmation is the process by which Tech must prove to a review team from peer institutions via the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) that the Institute is qualified to continue to award academic credit. SACSCOC, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the nation’s southern states, works closely with the U.S. Department of Education. The QEP is due to SACSCOC by December 2014. More than 80 percent of the onsite accreditation review in March 2015 will focus on the QEP.
Five QEP concept papers were presented to the QEP Advisory Committee in February, followed by another round of consultation. The Committee selected two proposals, which were merged to create one QEP.
“What makes the intersection between contextual learning and sustainability so exciting as a QEP is that it lends itself to defining clear learning objectives and to institutionalizing a growing interest among all students,” said Colin Potts, vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “They want to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world — directly and personally in ways they can empathize with — and the QEP gives us an opportunity to focus that excitement and passion in an academically productive way.”
Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said the Institute is a great institution that can only get better through this process.
“The SACSCOC reaffirmation process should be used to take stock of all that we are doing well and identify all that we can do better,” Bras said. “We have the advantage of being able to build on a visionary strategic plan and several years of discussion, analysis, and implementation efforts. The selected QEP reflects those efforts. I am confident that like past QEPs — focusing on the International Plan and Undergraduate Research — this QEP will make the Georgia Tech educational experience even better.”
Tech’s official reaffirmation process began last June and will continue through the end of 2015. Catherine Murray-Rust, vice provost for Learning Excellence and dean of Libraries, is Tech’s accreditation liaison and is responsible for overseeing the reaffirmation process.