University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
Connecting Learning to Life
2006-2007

 






A UW-Green Bay Education

'Connecting learning to life'

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay takes pride in “Connecting learning to life.” The phrase, and the word “connecting” itself, capture the essence of a UW-Green Bay education:

  • Students are expected to make connections across different areas of study, to examine issues from multiple perspectives and to work effectively with specialists from various fields.
  • Students connect with real-life issues through research, service, team projects and internships.
  • The University connects to the community and serves the region, its institutions and agencies, its businesses and people.

A clear overview

UW-Green Bay targets development of the characteristics that many civic and business leaders say are associated with effective individuals.

These characteristics include: the capacity to analyze and delineate a clear overview of a problem;  strong written and verbal communication skills; flexibility for on-the-job learning; ability to work in small task-oriented teams; technological competence and information literacy; and ability to work with individuals from diverse cultures.

The University’s emphasis on “Connecting learning to life” and adherence to the liberal arts tradition promotes development of these skills.

Liberal arts tradition

What are the liberal arts? And why do they represent an honored intellectual tradition carried forward not only at UW-Green Bay but throughout American higher education?

The concept has roots in ancient Greece and took shape during the Middle Ages and Renaissance as the modern university began to emerge. Scholars engaged in the rediscovery of the knowledge of the Greeks, and defined seven traditional “liberal arts” including language, music, reasoning and aspects of mathematics and science. The particular subjects were not of primary importance, though, as the success of liberal arts education was measured not by the students’ mastery of subject matter. The focus was on a more fundamental purpose: transformation of the students themselves.

Liberal arts education, then, is education that “liberates from the tyranny of one’s own experience.” The “liberal” means “liberating.” Typically, when an individual examines a problem he or she will approach the task equipped with ideas and assumptions absorbed, often unconsciously and uncritically, from a variety of sources. Liberal arts education is designed to make that process more conscious and critical.

Refining the concept

A UW-Green Bay education brings added value to the liberal arts experience.

General education requirements at most four-year institutions direct first- and second-year students to explore fields outside their intended major, to sample introductory courses across the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and fine arts.

UW-Green Bay follows this practice, as well, but carries the concept further via the design of its multiple-perspective or “interdisciplinary” majors. The University approaches the liberal arts ideal — and aspires to transform rather than to merely teach students — with a strategy that recognizes understanding that is deep, complete and effective requires examination from multiple perspectives.

A major advantage

While students elsewhere may devote themselves to a single, narrow field, there is an expectation that every student at UW-Green Bay will enjoy learning experiences that challenge him or her to integrate ideas from different fields.

The UW-Green Bay approach is notable for its extensive array of “interdisciplinary” majors applying knowledge from several disciplines — academic fields — to a broad topic.  An environmental science student, for example, will apply biology, chemistry, mathematics, botany and other disciplines to the larger study of environmental issues. Other examples include the majors in communication, humanistic studies, and urban and regional studies.

Individuals can pursue more intensive coursework in a particular topic of interest (their “area of emphasis” within the major), but this specialization is balanced by the fact every student completes either an interdisciplinary major, or a disciplinary major coupled with an interdisciplinary minor.

The value of multiple perspectives

The value of this approach is evident when one considers that today’s students prepare for a first job but also for careers that do not yet exist, and for societal challenges not yet known.

Identity theft, the viral epidemics and global terrorism are examples of rising challenges not easily resolved by relying solely on yesterday’s answers and narrow specialization.

That is why UW-Green Bay students are guided to master not only the lessons of history, and the conventional wisdom and technology of today, but the skills necessary to prepare for unpredictable tomorrows. Their education is built on knowledge of larger issues, familiarity with related fields, the awareness that neither problems nor solutions occur in isolation, and the ability to access information and put it in a useful context.

Serving the 'common good'

“Connecting learning to life” also manifests itself in the University’s dedication to a high-quality student learning experience not only in the classroom, but in everyday campus life and extracurricular leadership opportunities, as well.

UW-Green Bay takes serious its commitment to encourage students to serve the “common good” and contribute to the vibrancy of a diverse and dynamic society. Coursework and campus activities promote involvement and action.

Serving the region

Students, faculty and staff connect learning to life, every day, through research, internships, paid employment and volunteer involvement in the community.

Long known as a manufacturing, papermaking and food-processing center and the home of the Packers, Green Bay has seen recent growth in the healthcare and insurance sectors of its economy. While the metropolitan population is about 250,000, the city serves as the trade, transportation and cultural heart of an increasingly diverse region of nearly one million residents extending across much of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Green Bay is home to a developing retail/entertainment district and excellent museums, parks, theaters and sports-related facilities. It is the gateway to a favorite vacation destination in the scenic Door Peninsula and its historic harbors, rolling farmlands, orchards, forested bluffs and Lake Michigan beaches.