"Creating Interdisciplinary Collaborations in a Learner-centered Global Environment" Strategic initiatives for major US research universities include the increased emphasis on a global education that crosses the boundaries and confinement of structural departmental requirements. These cross discipline courses are emphasized but often difficult to implement for schools and departments who operate with less time, less money, fewer full time faculty and more university general education requirements. Students are anxious to study abroad but the constraints of additional tuition and expenses, transferability of credits earned, and lack of advising direction leave students pursuing for a more definitive and challenging experience.Through several years of strategic development and the emerging relationship with an on-site campus in Florence, Italy, the VCU Arts Design faculty developed a model for a cross-discipline, study abroad summer program (one month). Based on learning simulation and loosely on action learning principles, students from interior design, graphic design, fashion design and merchandising curriculums explored the inter-relationship of their fields of study. Students earned six credits in their major and three of which were the basis of their joint project. One course was team taught by the same VCU faculty members allowing students to explore Florence and its design history from three different perspectives: interior design and architecture, graphic design and fashion. Faculty rotated to a different discipline weekly so that all students viewed their environment with a "fresh" perspective. This paper will explore the strategic goals and program development of this cross discipline undergraduate experience, and address the student learning from co-curricular projects, and the opportunity to live and study abroad.
Karen Videtic, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States
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