Drury University recently announced Your Drury Fusion, which includes curriculum updates and a refreshed approach to the undergraduate experience, including a new approach to advising, career, and support services. It will launch in Fall 2019.
After learning about the Drury ethos from faculty, staff, students, and engaged community members, an outside consultant performed a blind study in simulated decision-making with both prospective students (identified by inquiries and applications) and admitted students. They determined that students were seeking career and life preparation; small, highly-engaged classes with a connection to the real world; and holistic mentoring.
With its new program, Drury will incorporate themed, multidisciplinary certificates that include 12 credit hours along with some form of applied learning to teach students that “projects and problems are not solved through a single disciplinary lens,” said Beth Harville, provost at Drury University. Drury plans to have about 20 certificates ready when Your Drury Fusion launches next fall. Students in profession-oriented majors, such as architecture and business, will earn certificates in academic fields, and students in academic-oriented fields will earn certificates in profession-based fields. So far they’ve built certificates in data analytics, holistic health and well-being, professional and visual communication, graphic storytelling, film studies, and environmental problems and solutions. They also have a study abroad certificate which includes two language courses, a culture and diversity course, and finally a study abroad experience with a professional experience that reflects the student’s major. Drury University now specifies that each graduate will have at least three hands-on experiences, coming from both the major and the certificates that students earn. Students will have access to digital portfolios to capture their experiences, and they’ll also have the opportunity to apply for grants to fund their capstone projects.
Drury also redesigned its first year experience as part of Your Drury Fusion. While the first semester, a critical reading and writing course known as Frontiers, will be similar to the current offering, the spring semester will feature faculty-designed Intersections courses, which will bring together two faculty from different disciplines to examine a particular topic. For example, a potential course, Beauty and Discrimination, will pair a Spanish language professor whose scholarship is in gender and beauty with a business law professor. The course will have all students together in the beginning, then they will split in half, with each professor teaching one of the groups. After coming back together for two weeks, they will again split, working with the other professor, and then coming back together at the end.
To provide the holistic mentoring that students need, Drury will bring together three existing but separate areas — academic advising, career services, and the learning center — in its newly established Compass Center. Every student’s four-year plan will include aspects of traditional advising and as well as career exploration to help the student discover potential professional pathways that merge their academic interests and other passions. For those that are identified as needing supplemental support even before their first day as a freshman, their plan will incorporate the Learning Center as well. Drury will build a new Design Enterprise Solutions Center which will house the Compass Center, student project rooms, meeting spaces, re-configurable classrooms, and other elements such as the cybersecurity lab and the business school and its labs.
Your Drury Fusion is the result of nearly two years of work by 100 faculty members who were the architects of the academic program, noted Harville. While input and feedback came from others — staff, current students, alumni, and the board of trustees — throughout the process, the faculty developed strong, relevant programs and will be the key to a successful transition to a new approach.
“Teaching can be a tough gig, and change is very hard,” said Harville. “Our faculty are making significant changes to do what’s right for the students.”