Incoming first-year and transfer students at St. Ambrose University can earn a free credit hour this summer by completing a course designed to encourage retrospection and moving forward from the pandemic.
The online course, Re/building Community During a Pandemic, will be offered during the 2021 summer session, June 28 to July 23, and focus on the following themes: Importance of Community, Recapping Reality, What is Next, and Community Activism. Within each theme, students can choose one-hour modules to complete from a list created by faculty across the university.
"At this point, we can look back at the changes that happened during the pandemic, the many roles community plays in terms of support, and discuss ways to rebuild community moving forward," said Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Erica Thomas, PhD. The course will also introduce new students to what 'community' means at SAU and invite them to get involved, she said.
Within the modules students can explore how the pandemic affected their lives and consider ways to begin to re-engage within a lens of safety and security, said Sandy Cassady, PhD, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and dean of the College of Health and Human Services.
"We've all been managing and moving through this pandemic in our own way. Through different topics, students will have a chance to reflect on the things they may have missed during the pandemic and consider ways they can engage and participate in the university and the broader community moving forward," Cassady said.
The course will be asynchronous, allowing students to complete the modules as it works into their schedule each week.
"This course is really about student success," Cassady said. On-going pandemic health concerns have caused the university to change the format of on-campus orientations this summer. The free course gives new students more opportunities to meet and connect with fellow Bees and gain first-hand experience with faculty, Cassady said.
"They also will learn how to use our learning management platform, Blackboard. There is so much to do when a student arrives in the fall, including Welcome Week activities, classes, and learning to navigate campus. If a new student arrives already knowing how to use Blackboard it will help them as they ramp up for the fall semester. It is one of the primary benefits of the course," Cassady said.
The free summer course is not required, "but it is a good way for students to connect with their incoming class before they arrive on campus this fall, and academically explore topics that are very relevant right now. They'll know what to expect when they get to campus from a safety and community support standpoint, and it is a free credit that won't hurt their GPA," Thomas said.
The course ties into the College of Arts and Sciences 2021-22 Academic Theme, Re/Building Community.
This is the second year St. Ambrose has offered first-year and transfer students a free, one-credit hour summer course designed to help them successfully acclimate to college. The course offered last year, College in the Time of COVID, prepared new students for their arrival on campus.