campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “History and Philosophy of Science”

Case Western Reserve University

CASE WESTERN RESERVE (visited 4/11 and 1/13)

~CWR bikes and quadOne of the admissions reps described Case Western students this way: “Every place says that their kids are nice. . . . it’s bizarre here.” So nice, in fact, that students regularly take up the Million Minute Community Service Challenge.

~CWR 5Students are also very competitive, very smart, and very demanding on themselves. Many double or even triple major. “Our kids are focused but not so set in their one path that they aren’t willing to try other things.” However, about 2/3 do end up graduating in the division in which they entered, although not necessarily the same major. Nursing is the exception to this with about 95% continuing.

CWR students

Students collaborating in a Business School lounge.

Students can be creative and innovative here: they design, fail, break things, and try again. The school isn’t setting kids up to fail. Often, this is the first time they’re with a lot of people who were in the top of their classes in high school but learn quickly that this is ok.

~CWR dorms and track

New residential area surrounding some of the athletic facilities

This is a big campus for 4500 undergraduates (about ¼ of whom are from Ohio); there are actually more graduate and professional students than undergrads, but CWR is actively increasing research opportunities for undergrads who can start as early as the first year. Case actively looks for ways to “expand” campus by encouraging students to utilize all the wonderful things at their doorstep in the city of Cleveland. Campus borders University Circle, a renowned cultural, artistic, medical, and educational center.

Case’s SAGES program (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) includes 5 semester-long, writing-intensive seminars. These classes, limited to 17 students, include 3 interdisciplinary classes over the first two years, 1 class in the student’s major, and a capstone project. Students can no longer test out of their writing requirement based on AP scores, and faculty say that this helps with writing skills. The content and sequence is “integrated and intentional. Students are well-coached and well-practiced in skills employers want.”

~CWR 7The first seminar (taken in the first year) focuses on skill building by providing extensive feedback about writing, speaking, engagement, etc. Students have several options meant to engage them in life of the mind. The built-in “Fourth Hour” includes events scheduled in the institutions around the Circle (Art museum, Natural History museum, etc) so that students take advantage of the region’s cultural capital. Before the end of sophomore year, students also complete 2 University Seminars meant to extend knowledge by exploring topics at a more sophisticated level. They produce longer writing projects and oral presentations showing a more advanced analysis. The Seminar in Major allows them to become facile in disciplinary knowledge and the modes of communication in that discipline. Finally, the Capstone allows them to define a problem or ask a question, then find a solution or answer. It could be an experiment, an artistic creation, an extensive research project, etc. Both written and oral presentations are required.

~CWR 6About 2/3 of the students are in the Science and Engineering departments. Biomedical Engineering draws the most students followed by Mechanical Engineering. Systems and Control Eng., Engineering Physics, Civil Engineering, and Polymer Science and Engineering are the “small but mighty” departments. In the Sciences, the Gerontological Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and Evolutionary Biology programs are worth noting.

~CWR Applied SSTheir Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences departments are smaller but still strong; these departments will feel much more like a small Liberal Arts college with discussion courses. There are several Collaborative Programs that link CWR with other schools and programs throughout the city. Their music department is a bit unusual in that they teach musicology and music history but not theory or performance: students looking for those can cross-register at the Cleveland Institute of Music and neither can complete degrees without the other. They do the same with the Cleveland Institute of Art: students at either school interested in Art Education complete part of their degrees at the other school. All CWR students can take up to 4 credits per term at either the CIA (Art) or CIM (music).

~CWR business 3

Business School

The Business School is booming and housed in a modern, well-designed building. Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Organizational Leadership, International Business, and Supply Chain Management are particularly worth taking a look at.

~CWR nursing

Nursing building

The nursing program is particularly strong and is named as one of the top 15 in the country. This is a direct-entry program with classes starting in the first semester – and clinicals starting in week 3! Students complete 1600 clinical hours before graduation, almost 2 times the national average. If that weren’t impressive enough, students can also study abroad through articulation agreements with programs in China, Cameroon, and Alaska (yes, they know that this isn’t abroad – but students say that it sometimes feels that way in the small villages they’re placed in!). One student from Pittsburgh did her capstone in Hong Kong where she audited classes and studied increasing obesity in high schoolers. Also unusual is that students in the program can double major. One student from Cincinnati is also getting a degree in PoliSci.

Applications have increased more than 200% in the last 8 years; international apps are up from 500 to over 4000. Applicants get ranked in 22 academic, leadership, and extra-curricular categories. They currently admit about 42% of applicants. Students who visited campus, went to the HS visit, or did an alumni interview are twice as likely to be admitted. “We can still take kids with a 1200 SAT. We don’t want to have it harder to do that.” They have a single-door admission except for music (audition requirement) and art (portfolio requirement).

~CWR north Res VillageFreshmen are housed in 4 residential communities helping Case with their excellent 93% retention rate. There are also residential complexes for 2nd year and for upperclass students. Their Graduating Senior Experience program is one of the few I’ve run into. Almost 1/3 of students are Greek-affiliated (and many live in Greek Housing). 20% of students stay on campus to take classes, do research, or just take advantage of other opportunities during the summer. The college-owned Squire Valleevue Farm is about 8 miles from main campus. Aquatic Biology is offered in May Term so students can go into the streams for hands-on learning. There’s also a ceramics area out there.

© 2015

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University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh (visited 11/7/15) Pitt sign 2

~Pitt Cath int

The main floor of the Cathedral

~Pitt Cath of Lrng 2

Cathedral of Learning

I was expecting a bit more of a campus feel from Pitt, but the university is very much incorporated into the city. The “crowning glory” is the Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story tower that looms over much of the area; the story is that when the university moved to its currently location, they wanted everyone in the city to know where it was … hence the tower. It was constructed in 1936-37, and contains classrooms, offices, and Nationality Rooms; all of them reflect the country at the time except for two: the French room (built in Napoleonic style), and the Early American room (as a side note, it’s supposedly haunted). The main room has large vaulted ceilings (very Harry Potteresque); it’s normally filled with tables and gets used as a meeting and studying area; during the holidays, it gets decked out, and banquets and dinners are often held in here. They also bring therapy dogs into this area on Tuesdays.

Pitt main street

The main street from one of the pedestrian bridges connecting academic buildings.

A dorm cluster

A dorm cluster

This is a public university but is not part of Pennsylvania’s university systems (Penn State & affiliates or the Penn. System of Higher Education). Originally opening in a log cabin in 1787, it’s now coed and home to more than 18,000 undergraduates – “but it feels small. I recognize a lot of people,” said our tour guide. It’s a relatively compact campus, taking about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. It’s easy to walk to off-campus areas, and public transportation is free for students. The college also runs shuttles to the airport, student athletic games, and more.

Dorm towers

Dorm towers

This is the first year that more than 50% of students have come from out-of-state. Students are guaranteed housing for 3 years. Rent in town is cheap (a friend of the tour guide pays $300 a month) and housing is easy to find. Eight of the freshmen halls are traditional dorms; the last one has suites. Sophomores are usually in suites and juniors tend to get campus apartments. Only about 9% of the student are Greek-affiliated “but it’s going up.” Rush is delayed and there are no sorority houses, but groups can live together in dorms if they want.

More dorms

More dorms

Part of the Biology complex (which includes neuroscience)

Part of the Biology complex (which includes neuroscience)

“The academic culture here is really collaborative. It’s not cutthroat. People are nice. They’re happy to be here,” said the tour guide. He couldn’t be happier with his education and the opportunities presented to him. He’s an Art History and PoliSci double major and isn’t having problems completing the requirements or getting to know professors who “are really accessible: I had one hold extra office hours at Dunkin’ Donuts down the street.” Almost all the faculty are full-time; the 6% of faculty who are adjuncts are professionals in their field, such as a police officer teaching forensics, etc.

~Pitt students

The Pitt Chapel with CMU - the building with columns - right behind it.

The Pitt Chapel with CMU – the building with columns – right behind it.

All students must have a major and a minor (or a double major). If they aren’t finding classes they’re interested in (hard to imagine with the number offered), they can cross-register at one of nine area schools including Carnegie Mellon (literally across the street) or Carlow, about half a mile away. One of his friends took Bag-piping at CMU. Pitt also teams up with CMU to offer ROTC (Army and AF at Pitt, Navy at Case Western).

One of the special programs that Pitt offers is OCC (“Outside the Classroom Curriculum”) to help students engage in a variety of extra-curricular programming and events. There are 10 goal areas including wellness, career prep, and Pitt Pride; students get a $5000 scholarship every SEMESTER after they complete this!

The World Series Home Plate

The World Series Home Plate

Sports are a big deal here (and Pitt owns the home plate from the 1970 Pirates v. Cubs game, on display in one of the buildings). We visited on a game day; lots of schools buses were shuttling students to and from the stadium, kids were decked out in Pitt gear (including face paint), and there was a general sense of festivity in the air. Students pay $25 for a season football pass to Pitt football games, but most sports do draw out a lot of fans. Temple, Penn State, and Notre Dame are their big rivals. The major league sports in town give students deals if they want to professional sports: There are $7 nights for the Pirates, and the Penguins cost $27 for a “random seat – you could be in the nose bleed section or up against the glass,” said the tour guide.

Conflict Cafe

Conflict Cafe

For students wanting more than sports, Pittsburgh doesn’t disappoint. Town-gown relations are good, and lots of places cater to the large college population in town. For example, our tour guide got $25 tickets to Wicked. Pittsburgh has any kind of entertainment you want – museums, music, movies, food, etc. In the park across the street from campus, Conflict Kitchen has set up shop: it only serves food from countries that the US is in conflict with. They were serving Iraqi food when I visited.

The Pitt Mascot

The Pitt Mascot

Students interested in the schools of Nursing, Engineering, Business, and Arts & Sciences enter those directly. Students interested in the other schools (Social Work, Education, Info Sciences, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) must complete prerequisites and begin their major in the junior year if they qualify. A few noteworthy majors included Applied Developmental Psychology, Urban StudiesMathematical Biology, History and Philosophy of ScienceEcology and Evolution, and Linguistics. Unusual minors include either Polymer or Petroleum Engineering, Aerobics, and Aquatics.

Campus is a contrast of old and new buildings.

Campus is a contrast of old and new buildings.

Applicants who visit Pitt (take a tour or attend a visit day) can get their application fee waived.

© 2015

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