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The Scholar-Citizen Initiative’s posters and logo have begun appearing around campus for some time- this organization, new and little-known to students, appeared on a poster in Young hall last year, asking students “How are You a Scholar-Citizen?” and leaving the space below blank for anyone to write a response.
Now, the SCI has gained steam. It also oversees the Highlander in Action awards, which supports students pursuing internships, “community based learning”, and study abroad experiences geared toward learning. Many students studied with professors or other mentors in applied learning experiences, such as Laken Cooper, who was the research assistant for Dr. Sara O’Brien, who ran experiments examining invasive populations of house sparrows in Kenya.
The SCI is linked on MyRU, and featured more prominently in areas around campus. Its goals include intending to help shape students into “mature, responsible citizens” through teaching of “public service, leadership, and applied research.”
On October 22nd, they plan to host a John F. Kennedy Assassination Presentation- something they refer to as a ‘co-curricular’ learning experience on their description of tiered SCI learning opportunities. This type of experience is tier one- students aren’t required to plan anything or do much work, and their experiences are only measured by surveys after the fact. A learning experience ascends through the tiers by increasing the amount of student responsibility in planning the event, and the independent learning experience students must undertake.
Students can also now graduate as Scholar-Citizens in a program offered through the university; it requires a minimum gpa of 2.0 for freshmen, 2.25 for sophomores, and 2.5 for juniors, and that a student join the on-campus Scholar-Citizen Student Club in addition to logging service hours through RUInvolved and attendance to several scholar-citizen programs. There are other requirements, such as keeping up an ePortfolio, and taking certain courses, as well.
Faculty can also get involved- while in creating a class for an upcoming semester, they complete the worksheet provided on the SCI’s website and applying, they can create special SC courses, which open them up to receiving SCI students, who are required to participate in affiliated hands-on work. They can also help create a co-curricular event for students, like the Assassination Presentation, or any event that helps students incorporate learning into their daily lives. In this way, they cover the ‘academic’ as well as ‘co-curricular’ sides of the work the SCI is promoting, in addition to benefiting themselves by creating a unique and challenging course tailored to students who are seeking applied learning.
The SCI pushes students to three specific aspects of this applied learning- to “encourage intentional reflective practices”, connecting everyday student experiences with their classroom or academic learning, “incorporate social pedagogy,” which means students going out to learn in real-world contexts, and the “integrat[ion] of an experimental dimension”: scientific study of real-world problems through a scholarly lens.
The SCI is still relatively new at RU, but by implementing programs for students and faculty, they hope to further the integrity of students both as, well, citizens and scholars. This combined work has already paid off for those receiving Highlander in Action awards, and hopefully will for those ambitious students interested in pursuing research but who may not know the right place to start.