The Project

The Integrative Learning Project initiative at Philadelphia University focuses on the "liberal-professional" education to which the University commits itself in its mission statement. With its historical roots in technical education for the U.S. textile industry, Philadelphia University offers its students strong professional training combined with a robust core curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences.

Our ILP initiative aims to strengthen the integration between these two aspects of our curriculum by finding strategic points in the core curriculum where students can merge their inquiries in the liberal arts and sciences with skills, knowledge and issues from their professional studies. This integrative learning initiative has focused on three key moments in the curriculum:

  • The First Year experience
  • Junior-level integrative seminars
  • The senior capstone in the core curriculum

  • The First Year Experience

    Philadelphia University's First Year Experience program (FYE) aims to build learning communities among our students by linking class assignments to residential units, and by combining classroom topics with relevant co-curricular activities. First year activities are also organized around a common book, which faculty in first year courses are encouraged to integrate into their class assignments and discussions.

    During the ILP grant period, the FYE theme has been "Finding Philadelphia," supported by the selected book, "Philadelphia Murals." Topics from the book have served as the basis for assignments in the Freshman Writing Seminar and in the History I courses, and have inspired co-curricular field trips to visit mural sites and for work in the Drawing I course required for all of our various design-related majors. Jane Golden, one of the book's co-authors and the director of Philadelphia's Murals Arts Program, also visited campus in March 2005 to participate in a panel discussion featuring some of the mural artists.

    Assessment: Faculty meetings held in May 2005 and January 2006 focused on examining first year student work for evidence of integration of knowledge across different courses and between courses and co-curricular activities related to the FYE theme and book.

    Junior-level Integrative Seminars

    The junior year curriculum in the general education core curriculum (known as the College Studies program) features upper-level writing-intensive courses that provide an interdisciplinary approach to topics in history, the humanities, and/or the social sciences. Many of these general education courses were originally developed in consultation with faculty in the professions to address topics relevant to specific majors. Students are currently required to take two courses at this third-year level in the College Studies curriculum.

    The ILP initiative is now aiming to promote "liberal-professional" integration even further by creating a new course category that students can select as one of their two choices at this level: Integrative Professional Seminars. These new seminar courses will invite faculty from the professions to teach a seminar-format course which focuses in-depth on a specific topic in their field. To promote liberal-professional integration, these courses must examine their topics from a variety of viewpoints (including the perspectives of history, the humanities and/or the social sciences), meet the requirements of writing-intensive courses, and be open to all students, regardless of their majors.

    The proposal to create this new course category will be brought to the university-wide College Studies Committee in the fall of 2006 for approval and oversight.

    Senior Capstone Seminar

    The culminating experience in the core curriculum (the College Studies program) is a capstone course called "Contemporary Perspectives." This writing-intensive global current events course is required for all students and centers around a major research project which allows students to explore how a specific global trend is transforming the professional field that they are preparing to enter.

    Our ILP initiative has devoted special attention to this course and its culminating research assignment in order to assess its outcomes in terms of "liberal-professional" integration. We have been especially interested in increasing the input and participation of our faculty members who teach in the professional majors, and our ILP initiative has included cross-campus workshops to examine the capstone assignment and to discuss our liberal-professional integration aims with faculty from all of our different schools.