inter-departmental programs

hjmartin (hatch@RICHMOND.INFI.NET)
Fri, 1 Dec 1995 11:25:58 -0500

To all:

I would like to hear from people who either participate in an
inter-departmental program (areas studies, special institutes, cooperative
programs, field schools) or who have helped develop and manage the same.

What I want to discuss is what to take into consideration when designing and
launching a new one. Some factors -identifying likely faculty for
participation, defining program requirements, attracting interested and
qualified students, assessing the physical resources necessary (books in the
library, computers, software & data bases, etc.) - are clearly important.

I will take as a given that institutional support is assured.

One key to such a program, it seems to me, is to get and keep the active
cooperation of a variety of busy people; the question is how to do this?
Another factor is how to structure a program so that it will appeal to and
attract students. Does it make sense to design a single program to appeal
to all? How about complicating the structure with multiple tracks that
appeal both to students who intend to specialize (liberal arts & humanities
majors) and to those who want/need some depth but do not have a substantial
professional interest (business students, science majors)?

A third topic is related to selling it to students. The fact is that a
program without students does nothing more than take up column inches in the
catalog. What can be used to motivate a student to consider, to enter & to
stick with a program that might be expensive, intellectually demanding and
involve substantial personal sacrifice over several years (such as a
language program or summer field school)? Does the type of institution the
student comes from (private/public, rigorous/open admission) make a difference?

Observations based on experience would be greatly appreciated.

Unless you think the topic merits list-wide attention, please respond
directly to:


Jim Martin
901 Pump Rd, 193
Richmond, VA 23233
(804) 740-0170 home
(804) 786-5188 work