University at Albany, State University of New York
Contact UAlbany Directories Calendars & Schedules Visitors Site Index Search
Admissions Academics Research IT Services Libraries Athletics
Prospective Students
Current Students and Parents
Alumni
Faculty and Staff
My UAlbany
About the University
News
Outreach
Support UAlbany
Employment

 

 
Feature

UAlbany interdisciplinary honors course examines the theme of Order & Chaos

Judith Johnson
 

Judith Johnson

Do great minds think alike? Is intelligence inevitable? These are two of the many ideas that UAlbany’s high-achieving freshmen examine in the interdisciplinary course, Foundations of Great Ideas (UNI 101). Lectures, small discussion, readings and lots of writing make up the core of this intensive honors course.

Eight faculty members, from as many disciplines, set the intellectual stage with material that challenges the students to think critically, creatively, and constructively. “The aim,” says English department faculty team member Judith Johnson, a poet and fiction writer, “is to prepare students for the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge in the 21st century.”

“The aim is to prepare students for the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of knowledge in the 21st century.” Freshman Ashley Linken, who plans to earn a master’s degree in public policy or human resources management, likes the dual aspects of the small discussion groups and the larger lecture/plenary form of the class. “This is a very writing-intensive class, but I love the small discussion groups where we can talk about our opinions freely. I have learned to see things from different perspectives than I normally do.” Other students agree to the feeling of empowerment as they engage one another in intellectual discussion and debate.

The faculty who make up this interdisciplinary teaching team encourage the freshmen to “read, think, write, and participate,” says Johnson who joins seven other faculty members: Barbara Chepaitis (Presidential Scholars faculty associate), John Delano (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), Max Lifchitz (Music), Vivien Ng (Women’s Studies), Thomas Caraco (Biological Sciences), Vivien E. Zazzau (Library), and Veronica Aveis ’04 (graduate assistant, English).

Veronica Aveis has come full circle. She participated in the Foundations course as a freshman. After earning her bachelor’s degree in English earlier this year, she returned to UAlbany to study for her master’s degree – and to join the UNI 101 faculty.

Laura Fredriksen, Dr. Barbara Chepaitis and Amy Berdan in the Foundations of Great Ideas course taking part in a special class project.
 

l-r: Laura Fredriksen, Dr. Barbara Chepaitis and Amy Berdan in the Foundations of Great Ideas course taking part in a special class project.

 

As a student, Veronica appreciated “the phenomenal faculty” who taught the course, as well as “the opportunity to discuss my thoughts with fellow honors students and to express my ideas about the course creatively.”

Today, as one of the faculty, “I am continuously learning from the other professors,” she says. “They challenge the students and one another at every juncture. My students are always alert, willing to jump into the reading and discussion, and they encourage their peers. We’ve established a real rapport in the classroom.”

A second interdisciplinary course for University Scholars in the Foundations of Great Ideas program (UNI 301) is available. Another interdisciplinary course, taught by several faculty, focuses on film as a medium of global cultural exchange and transformation.


Related Links:
University Scholars


Tell Us Your Story

 

 

 

Recent Features:

ODK Symbol
At UAlbany honors abound >>

Enhanced Learning
UAlbany professor and students research the brain and publish their findings >>

They bleed purple & gold - UAlbany's Spirit Brigade
They bleed purple & gold - UAlbany's Spirit Brigade >>

Feature Archives  |  News & Information  |  Top
 


University at Albany Home Page

Contact UAlbany | Directories | Calendars | Visitors | Site Index | Search
Admissions | Academics | Research | IT Services | Libraries | Athletics