Long-awaited new college opens at UCSD

    As a new academic starts at UCSD, a new college will be making its mark on campus. Sixth College, the latest addition to UCSD’s multiple-college system, is opening after three years of planning. The opening has come with challenges, and life around the administration building has been hectic.

    Anna MacMurdo

    “”Every aspect is a challenge,”” said Gabriele Wienhausen, provost of Sixth College. “”The challenge starts with finding space for the college. We also have to build it from scratch. We have nothing to build upon, which is a challenge but also exciting. We must also hire staff, come up with a curriculum, and attract faculty.””

    Noticing the stressful project, students from other colleges have come by and asked how they can help, which, as Wienhausen notes, reflects the spirit of UCSD.

    “”The entire campus is taking responsibility for our college and wants us to succeed,”” Wienhausen said.

    Anna McMurdo

    Attracting faculty was not as difficult as it could have been, according to Wienhausen.

    “”Some were really attracted to the theme and the fact that it was a new college,”” Wienhausen said. “”We had strong support in terms of the many creative people who donated time and energy.””

    As the steering committee developed the college, it knew the importance of learning about cultures. Often, the first two things developed by a culture are unique art and technology, which are intertwined.

    According to Wienhausen, the theme would “”help students be introduced to the richness of the academic programs the school has to offer, which is what makes UCSD strong.””

    What sets Sixth College apart from other colleges is an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The 280 incoming freshmen will take a three-quarter core sequence called “”Culture, Art and Technology,”” which integrates learning in the arts and humanities, social sciences, science and engineering. Students will also acquire computer and information literacy, as well as writing and communication skills. The courses will be co-taught by faculty from several departments including engineering, communication, history, theater, visual arts, literature, philosophy and sociology. They will include labs in which students will work in small groups to solve problems posed in their readings, lectures and discussions while gaining communication skills and learning to collaborate across disciplines.

    “”All [core] courses will be linked together by specific central questions,”” said Hillel Schwartz, director of the core sequence.

    This year, students will be able to choose whether they want a large lecture course, a small lecture course or a fieldwork course that is mainly made up of seminar and exploration.

    However, don’t expect the sequence to stay the same for long.

    “”We are ready to have students help us redesign the new curriculum,”” Schwartz said.

    Each student will also be required to purchase a “”writing box,”” which contains writing materials, tape, a kazoo and clay, which they will use to express themselves in some way.

    “”We want students to learn and express themselves other than in the written and spoken word,”” Wienhausen said.

    The writing box will also include an anthology containing different types of writing, which the students will use as models for exploring new writing styles and reaching different audiences.

    Sixth College breadth requirements reflect the complexity of the college. Students must take courses in social analysis, narrative, aesthetic and historical reasoning, analytic methodologies/scientific method, structured reasoning, data exploration, societal contexts, social context, ethical context and art making.

    Another unique aspect of Sixth College is the way in which technology, one of its themes, will be used as a tool. The college’s chief technology officer will help identify the technology that is appropriate by polling students in the classroom to get feedback. This will also help the faculty teach.

    The college also has a computer playground, which, as Schwartz describes, is “”a digital playground for students with interesting computers and software to create video, animation and scenarios so they can become reflective about what it means to live in a digital world.””

    Equally important at Sixth College will be making lasting connections between the classroom and the community.

    “”Our students need to understand the people in other environments by learning about the needs and dreams of local communities,”” Wienhausen said.

    Students will have the chance to reach out to their surrounding communities during their senior year, when they must complete a practicum. The aim of the practicum is for students to apply the ideas and methods learned in their core sequence. It must include content from at least two of the three themes of culture, art and technology. It can be a project-oriented course taken at UCSD or an internship or community service activity outside the university. An outside activity would give students the chance to become a part of a larger community, thus keeping with another emphasis of the college: learning to work, listen and collaborate with one another.

    As part of the practicum, students must also take a two-unit course in which they will present the purpose and outcome of their respective projects. They are free to express their project in any form, including a Web site, lecture or performance.

    Incoming students are excited about being a part of a new college.

    “”I chose Sixth College because it’s the newest and I will have a chance to come up with the name and be a part of the first class to go through the college,”” said freshman Kyle Happe.

    The uniqueness of the college has played a role in attracting some students.

    “”[Sixth] was the only one that was different from the other [colleges],”” said Loren Baxter, a Sixth College student. He also notes that the small size will have its benefits. “”It’s going to be close around here with so few students,”” he said.

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