Whether we like it or not – and no matter how hard we fight it – change is inevitable. The only thing within our power is learning how to adapt to the changes around us.
And, with the theme of “Human Experience in a World of Change: The Potential of People, the Power of Place and the Perilous Possibilities that Humanity May Face,” the first cohort of the College of Charleston Honors College’s Faculty Fellows Program has set out to show students how interdisciplinary studies and research can be applied to improve people’s lives in a changing world.
A key component of the revised Honors College curriculum – which launched in the fall of 2018 and emphasizes broader program goals focused on mind, self and society – the Faculty Fellows Program was envisioned as a laboratory for innovative teaching and collaboration, linking three of the Honors College’s strategic goals: undergraduate research, effective professional mentoring and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
Teams of three faculty members from across campus may submit proposals for the Faculty Fellows Program and, starting with the 2019–20 academic year, a new cohort will be selected to join the program every year based on its proposed theme and relevant coursework. Every year for three years, each faculty fellow in the selected cohort will teach one Honors course that is centered on the cohort’s theme and will also advise a group of Honors students for four years.
The program’s first cohort are faculty members Brian Bossak, Morgan Hughey and Kate Pfile – all of whom are from the Department of Health and Human Performance. Under the theme of “Human Experience in a World of Change,” these three professors will explore interdisciplinary perspectives on the dimensions of health, technology and socioeconomics, as well as location, demographics, ambient environment and concepts of physical activity, nutrition and urban development.
“Fields that are considered to be disparate are actually more interdisciplinary than one might initially think,” says Bossak, associate professor of public health, who will teach the class, The Future of Humanity in a Technological Tomorrow. The course centers on the profound influence of technology, including biotechnology and artificial intelligence, on existing and future generations.
Hughey, an assistant professor of health and human performance, has designed her course – Zip Code or Genetic Code: What Decides Our Health? – to explore the intersection of place and health using concepts and ideas from public health, urban planning and sociology.
And, in her course – Evidence-Based Medicine: Throwing Out the Cookbook in the 21st Century – Pfile, director of the College’s exercise science program, will explore the evolution of medicine and the approaches to evidence-based medicine as it is applied to prevention, clinical testing and diagnosis, as well as management and treatment strategies.
“I am excited about the opportunity to enhance my teaching and mentoring skills by engaging with students from across campus and the unique perspectives each will bring to class,” says Pfile, adding that that the Faculty Fellows Program will “improve student-faculty interaction and help to spark awareness and establish connections that are key to developing a research question.”
It also will establish connections between the Honors College and the faculty fellows’ respective departments, as well as supporting the faculty members through developmental opportunities.
“The Honors College takes seriously its role in faculty development,” says Honors College Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett, explaining that, through the Faculty Fellows Program, the Honors College provides seminars centered on topics such as curriculum design, course assessment, undergraduate research and high-impact learning. “Not only will faculty fellows do work that is essential to the Honors College, but we will also support them by establishing workshops, collaborations and other experiences that help them to achieve their professional goals.”
Indeed, for these faculty fellows, one thing that will never change is the collaborative support and interdisciplinary approach they find within the Honors College.