Signature Experience courses are distinguished in five ways:
- Students are challenged to put what they have learned into action
- The learning experience is sustained across multiple weeks
- The learning experience is not one that would be encountered in the classroom
- Students are invited to reflect on what they are learning as they are learning it
- Students engage in a project that produces substantive outcomes that are evaluated by a faculty member
In traditional courses, teachers talk about course concepts and students primarily listen. Knowledge is transferred through lectures and demonstrations.
Signature Experiences courses challenge students to play a more active role in their learning. Students learn by doing something-conducting research, engaging in new artistic techniques, traveling to new places or working in professional settings. They’re challenged to reflect on what they’re learning and apply that knowledge to professional settings and challenges in which they’ve been immersed.
Co-ops are full-time, six-month, career-related, paid positions related to a student’s academic program. While involved in these field-based experiences, students do not take academic courses.
Signature Experiences are offered in the context of an academic course. In Signature Experience courses students are encouraged to be active in their education. Students will participate in experiences that are beyond the traditional classroom experiences, often by participating in activities outside the classroom.
Signature Experiences in the Arts provide students opportunities to express their creativity through the production and presentation of a variety of media. For example, students in graphic design may create logos or brands for clients while theatre or music majors may participate in symphonic or theatrical performances. Other students may sculpt, draw, build or paint works of art for inclusion in galleries or installations. For example, a team of students completed an installation piece that sits in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park for the summer but was previously installed in St. Petersburg, Fla. It’s a statement about the pollution of our oceans and waterways.
Urbanization is the process by which cities continue to grow and change. Cities face complex challenges and Georgia State has committed itself to addressing and resolving some of the problems raised by urbanization. Located in the heart of Atlanta, students have the ability to participate in courses that directly address issues related to infrastructure, architecture, poverty, crime, cultural traditions and changes, sustainability, and urban farming,to name a few. For example, Religious Studies 4890 explores the history and diversity of religious communities in Atlanta through site visits. In addition to Signature Experience courses that focus on cities, urban issues are also addressed in courses that are focused on professional experiences, research experiences, and service-learning opportunities.
As the globalization of our society continues, students must achieve a level of global competency. Students can become global citizens through immersion in global signature experiences, and, in particular, study abroad opportunities. There are study abroad programs for every interest. For example, students interested in the sports business industry can take a trip to four European Countries – Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – to learn about the European sports culture and sports management practices. Exchange program opportunities where students study at an international university exist all over the world from South Korea or China to Denmark, Italy, or Morocco. Students may also participate in international internships that provide professional experiences in an international context. And a number of courses are now offering students Virtual Exchange experiences, in which students use technology to interact with people living in other places without having to travel to those places.
As students approach college graduation, most strive to progress into the workplace, armed with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed. Students who participate in professional signature experience courses prepare for their future endeavors by participating in work-related, on-site experiences, specific to their fields of interest. For example, students in the College of Education and Human Development who desire to become teachers must gain on-the-job experience through classroom management and organization practice, as well as student teaching. Marketing students in the Robinson College of Business create a marketing plan for real-world clients, while a Political Science majors in the College of Arts & Sciences participate in congressional simulations to gain first-hand experience with the skills and knowledge required to launch a career in the state government.
Signature Experiences in research enhance the research culture at GSU and provide opportunities for students to contribute insight into 21st century challenges. From laboratory research in Biology to fieldwork in Anthropology, students across disciplines actively participate in interesting, cutting-edge research with professors. Research examples include work on the glass ceiling for women in business, using sound to improve cognitive function, and creating innovative methods of play for preschoolers that incorporate math lessons to help children capitalize on their math skills at an early age.
Service-learning provides students with the opportunity to become engaged citizens of their communities and apply academic knowledge to hands-on experiences within the nonprofit and community service sector. Engagement with the community offers students chances to connect with underrepresented or vulnerable populations and to broaden their understanding of complex societal issues. For example, Public Policy majors in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies work with national and international organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Books for Africa, as well as local agencies such as SafeHouse Outreach or Saturday School Academy at Big Bethel AME Church.
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