Credo program expands for next school year

Credo renovators and students are enthusiastic about the changes that were made in classes this fall, especially the expansion of undergraduate research.

The Credo Honors Program is an academic student opportunity that Concordia applicants are invited to based on high school GPA and ACT scores. Incoming Credo students have a different set of options for an inquiry class from other first-years, and after the first semester they can re-apply to enroll in other Credo-specific classes that fill core requirements.

When senior Dan Cooley entered the program, “it was on its last legs,” he said. Credo had been stripped down to being only about classes, and the ones that were offered were not flexible with schedules, dissuading students who may have kept on otherwise, he said. Now Credo is experiencing a turnaround.

After making several adaptations last fall, Credo is receiving many positive reviews on availability and size of classes, as well as on the new research-intensive focus.

“I never did research over the summer, so I am happy to have this opportunity,” senior Thea Gessler said.

Andrew Lindner, a Credo teacher and assistant professor of sociology, already enjoys having the students “getting their hands dirty in research,” he said.

Cooley also showed excitement on this topic.

“Before, we learned a lot of broad, sweeping ideas, and now we’re learning a smaller, clearer picture. (Our learning) has moved from knowing to understanding.”

The heavy research emphasis now gives students a chance to learn in different ways sometimes alongside the professor. Also, because the professors decide on the nature of the class, it may open up possibilities to share their work and research with students.

Some of the other changes that have been made include adjustments to the application process, a 2015 summer school abroad set in South Africa, a push towards publication of students’ work and the beginning steps of a Credo student advisory group that could plan activities, recruit participants and provide feedback about how the program is doing. Also, professors who want to teach Credo classes now have to apply for a three-year term.

“We are hoping this will develop a bigger and better pool of kids actively engaging in Credo,” Lindner said.

Long-term, the program hopes to retain more students and give them the most fulfilling, adaptable experience possible for a whole community of students, he said.

Susan Larson, the program director of Credo, is pleased with what is happening so far.

“There is of course more to do (like) finalize the plans for a May term, but things are moving along well.”

The shift from just classes to a more engaged experience may end up being one of the most beneficial factors of the new program. The small class sizes have been Gessler’s favorite part of this year because she believes it makes students more comfortable speaking up in discussion with one another. The future activities and May seminar also impact the connections Credo students make with one another.

Gessler had a unique experience with Credo, taking all of her courses up until now within the first year.

“I really like their efforts to build community opportunities in the Credo program,” she said. “I’m not sure how much of this I will receive as it’s my last semester, but I think this will be an excellent opportunity for future Credo students.”

The community atmosphere also “leads informed individuals from different disciplines to talk about things that affect us,” Cooley said.

The next set of Credo courses are as follows:

  •               Body Politics: Gender, Sexuality, and Power (Humanities)
  •               Flights of Fancy: European Witchcraft and the Case of Barbara Kurzhals (Humanities) with Jonathan Clark
  •               Collaboration in Global Music (Art) with Jeffrey Meyer
  •               Stress and the human experience (Social Science) with Mikel Olson

Spring semester courses will be:

  • Compassionate Imagination (Humanities) with Dr. Dawn Duncan
  • Filmmakers Who Changed the World (Arts) with Dr. Roy Hammerling
  • Early Humans (Science) with Dr. Laura Aldrich-Wolfe

The May summer school abroad is a Social Science/Global Exploration course traveling to South Africa. Dr. Nick Ellig will teach the course, named Global Development Issues, and the trip will be partnered with the World Christianity course.

This article was written by Jardy Wasmoen, contributing writer.

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