The rapidity of change in today’s job market poses no small challenge for colleges and universities. In order to shape a dynamic and relevant curriculum, we must continue to critically examine not only what students learn but also how they learn. “Relevant” does not mean chasing the new shiny thing, however. It means that we need to be attentive to the underlying economic and social forces that are changing the opportunities available to graduates, and focusing more than ever on the core values of a liberal arts education. These include the ability to communicate skillfully, to collaborate with others to solve problems, and, increasingly, to have the capacity to work in a diverse environment.
Pine Manor has emphasized many of these core competencies for many years. PMC students aggressively sought internships well before they were ubiquitous features of the higher education landscape. Similarly, our philosophy of learning has emphasized the need to develop skills in teamwork and collaboration, and our rich multicultural learning environment has been truly unique. Still, we are always seeking to improve.
The College is revising key parts of its curriculum to increase our commitment to cultivating competent, talented and effective graduates. One example of such a change is our effort within each major to assess whether or not what we ask students to learn matches up with the needs of businesses and other employers. For example, the Biology major is deepening partnerships and expanding its courses to better prepare students for work in biomedical sciences, which is projected to employ more and more recent graduates every year. We also are redesigning the general education program to emphasize learning outcomes as “competencies”, an approach that is at the heart of much creative thinking in higher education. All told, we hope to build on Pine Manor’s already strong foundation of preparing students for the wider world before them.
William Vogele is a Professor of Political Science at Pine Manor College.