As a parent of a young woman about to start her college search process, I have so many questions on my mind: What will my daughter get from college? Will she be able to find employment after graduation? Will she have experiences in college that will make her life more meaningful? And, how should she balance her goals since automation and new technologies are likely to change all we know about life and the workplace?
As I grapple with these issues personally as a parent, I try to answer the same questions professionally in my roles as a communication studies professor and a co-director of the seminar program for the first-year students at Hollins University. I am currently working with my colleagues to revamp our department’s curriculum so that our majors will be ready for jobs in media, journalism, public relations, or study in graduate school. Accordingly, we just reorganized our classes so that they focus on the skills needed in those professions, such as digital production, marketing research, journalism, etc. Because of this comprehensive curriculum overhaul, individual courses can focus on exploring specific topics, digging for meaning, and contemplating the changes in future technologies. If done well, in a true liberal arts fashion, students will find themselves engaged in the questions that matter today and equipped with professional skills they can leverage tomorrow.
As a co-director of the First-Year Seminar program, I chair a group of 16 faculty members who are tasked with asking even broader questions. For example, what do incoming first-year students need from the university based on their diverse experiences from a variety of prior educational experiences? We then try to address those needs as our students transition into college life and expand their intellectual capacity and their personal growth and development.
In the end, what gives me comfort is knowing that we have so many passionate, committed, and knowledgeable people here at Hollins who are asking the right questions and pursuing the best solutions so that my Hollins students and my daughter can lead lives of consequence.
Vladimir Bratic, Associate Professor of Communication Studies