Speakers Offer Ideas on Helping Students to "Walk the Talk"

Education professors Jillian Kinzie and Patricia King told an Oct. 10 Community Time audience that Saint Mary's mission-driven educational culture has encouraged students to develop a greater sense of moral and social responsibility.

"We're very interested in what you're doing here," said Kinzie, an Indiana University professor. "It's on the cutting edge of higher education today."

The professors came to the College as part of the "Walk the Talk" grant that Saint Mary's received from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in January. The AAC&U awarded funding to 23 colleges it considers leaders in promoting responsibility among students.

During their presentation, King and Kinzie identified ways that Saint Mary's efforts - including students' work through the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action and various service-learning courses - fit within broader efforts in U.S. higher education. They also offered examples of programs from other universities that have stimulated student engagement and "learning that lasts."

One common thread is that colleges have been more successful in teaching students about moral and social responsibility when administrators and professors set clear pathways for student development.

"It sounds great to say that students can figure it out," Kinzie said, "But there's simply not enough time - we have to be explicit in guiding students."

King emphasized that students also benefit from a college's willingness to adopt a holistic educational model.

"Sometimes we teach students as if we're only interested in their minds," said King, a University of Michigan professor. "Transformative education requires an integrated approach that addresses the cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions of the individual."

After the presentation, members of the audience joined small-discussion groups, evaluating topics such as whether the College should institute a service learning requirement and how the Seminar curriculum, including Greek Thought, incorporates ethics.

Over the course of their two-day visit, King and Kinzie met with other organizations, including the Campus Deans and Directors Committee, Student Life and the Social Justice Coordinating Committee.

--John Grennan
Office of College Communications