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Archive for the tag “sustainable food systems”

Wells College

Wells College (visited 3/6/20)

Wells sycamore

The famous Sycamore tree with Cayuga Lake in the background

There’s a lot to be said for location! This attractive school full of brick buildings sits on a hill overlooking Cayuga Lake (which students can scuba dive in after being certified in the school pool). Many of the buildings are historic (including Henry Wells’ mansion which is now a dorm), but they’ve done well structurally to upgrade the buildings. For students wanting personal attention in and out of classes, a beautiful location (“We can watch sunsets across the lake – they’re to die for!” said the tour guide), a walkable town and campus, and rich school traditions, give this college a look.

Wells 2

One of the original buildings

Wells is small (hovering around 450 full-time undergrads), but they pack a lot of punch and live up to the “small but mighty” idea. Here, small doesn’t mean limited opportunities: there are plenty of academic and social options on campus as well as at the nearby Ivy League and selective liberal arts colleges. Wells was started as Cornell University’s sister school: Ezra Cornell and Henry Wells (also the founder of Wells Fargo) were good friends; they almost built their colleges on the same land. Today, students take advantage of this relationship with cross-registration options with Cornell and Ithaca College, both within 35-40 minutes to the south of Wells. Shuttles run to the city of Ithaca fairly regularly, as well as to Auburn, about 20 minutes to the north.

Wells stained glass aurora 2

One of the stained glass pieces around campus – this one is of Aurora, the name of the town

They’re holding steady with enrollment, but are trying to work around the national decrease in college-aged students. They went coed in 2005 and are still about 2/3 women. “We didn’t let go of our mission,” said the rep, a recent Wells grad. “There’s an ingrained sense of women’s empowerment. It’s in our traditions. Men here tend to be more open minded.” The rep told me that the administration has changed a bit, and they listen to the students. “Students have a voice. In this day and age, actually hearing students is important. They take that seriously and have implemented a lot of change.”

Academically, they’re changing with the times, restructuring programs for what students need and want. They offer some things that usually you can’t find unless you’re in a huge school.

  • Wells sci atrium

    Science Building atrium

    They offer a full major in Sustainability and a minor in Sustainable Food Systems, both of which are fairly unusual (although I’ve noticed this is becoming more of a thing in the last couple years). Often, this is found embedded within Environmental Studies instead of a separate stand-alone major. Students often mix/match the major (or minor) with business, EnviSci, PoliSci, or another major. Students implement a lot of what they learn on campus providing practical, hands-on opportunities where they’re making a real difference. “The students take a lot of pride in our recycling programs among others.” They have a fabulous new Sustainability Center.

  • Wells study nook

    A study nook in one of the academic buildings

    They offer a minor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies! This is unusual for most schools particularly one this small – but for a school sitting right in the middle of the Iroquois Confederacy, it makes some sense.

  • Book Arts Center: They have 1 of 6 original printing presses in the US, according to the tour guide. The diplomas are made on site (“Students don’t get to make their own diploma, but it’s still pretty cool!”)
  • They’ve combined Economics and Management in a single major; students can choose to concentrate in one of these within the major, but must take classes in both.
  • Health Sciences is big here. They offer minors in Holistic Health Services, Health Care Management. They also have strong pre-professional programs, and they offer a 3+4 PharmD with Binghamton (this cuts out 1 year), a 4+1+2 Nursing (this is something I hadn’t heard of – students get a BA/BS from Wells, and then get a BS in Nursing and a Nurse Practitioner Masters from the University of Rochester)
  • Wells bridge 2“We have a great Education department and NYS certification goes anywhere.” Students can complete the Inclusive Childhood Education (dual certified in Elementary and Spcial Ed) or Secondary Education They offer a minor in Education (this doesn’t lead to certification, but is a good basis if thinking about graduate studies in education or those interested in policy or other areas) and a 4+1 Program with the University of Rochester.
  • They’re looking at including LGBTQ Studies as a major in addition to the Women and Gender Studies that they already offer.
Wells DH

The dining hall

Students have to complete 2 internships; one of these can be on campus, and being a TA for a class can count. They keep strong ties with alumni, allowing for increased access to research and internships. “They’re very involved and donate a lot of money and time,” said the rep.

Gen Ed classes can be as large as 50 students, but usually aren’t that big. My tour guide’s classes ranged from 10-30 students. The Honor Code is taken very seriously here; students don’t have to take their exams in the classrooms. Teachers give out their phone numbers and invite students over for dinner, including Thanksgiving. “The right students for Wells will be those who are comfortable with the size. You’re going to be held accountable. This is a tight-knit community. We kind of have to be, given our size,” said the tour guide who is from New York City.

Wells diversity cntr

Part of the Diversity Center

I asked her what she thought Wells did well in terms of diversity – and what they still needed to work on. “Residentially, it’s diverse. I’m comfortable in the dorms because there are a lot of people like me, but also a lot of different types of people so there’s something for everyone. The commuters … they tend to be very white, but that’s reflective of the community, not the college.” About 40% of students self-identify as Students of Color. The LGBTQ community is well accepted, and she felt that there was fairly decent religious and political diversity, although she thought that people on far ends of those spectrums may have trouble finding a community at Wells.

Wells 6The college is proactive in making sure that they’re accessible and are becoming as diverse as possible, including socio-economic diversity. They made the application (available on Common App and from their website) free in order to lower barriers. They require only two letters of rec which can be from a coach, teacher, counselor, etc. They’re SAT/ACT optional, including for scholarships. Essays can actually be anything, even a video!

Wells carriage

A picture in the library one of the original horse-drawn carriages

Traditions are strong here. One of the most unusual is that seniors arrive to graduation in horse-drawn carriages! Others include:

  • Candlelight ceremony on the first night of orientation; seniors get a champagne breakfast.
  • All students are Odd or Even based on graduation year. They have competitions and spirit games throughout the year. Men and women will form teams for dance-offs, sporting events, etc.
  • Wells Minerva

    Minerva!

    The statue of Minerva has lived through 3 fires; now she’s a symbol of good luck and will get dressed up. Seniors kiss her toes before graduation.

  • Tea Time – this started as a formal thing where people got dressed up; now it’s a Wednesday afternoon study break usually in the Café (which, by the way, is entirely student run, including the hiring).
Wells library int 1

Part of the library

To end, there are a couple final cool facts about Wells:

  • There are no 90 degree angles in the library. It’s one of the most interesting looking college libraries I’ve seen. Students can reserve study carrels and will often decorate them; the Honor code was evident walking through the building and seeing that students left books and personal belongings in the carrels without worrying about them being taken.
  • The creator of the American Girl dolls is a Wells alum.

© 2020

Goshen College

Goshen College (visited 11/20/19)

Goshen quadGoshen is a hidden gem. If you’re looking for an “interesting, eclectic place,” this might be for you! It’s a warm and welcoming community with a socially and environmentally aware mindset and a globally-focused curriculum. Students are happy and engaged; academics are rigorous but not overwhelming; the social life is active – all on a beautiful, brick-filled campus. Fun fact: new college Presidents get dunked in the fountain in front of the library.

Goshen convoGlobal awareness and competency is a key part of life on Goshen’s campus. All students complete at least one Study-Service Term (SST) abroad, although there are alternatives for students who are unable to go. For example, nursing students can go to Nepal as part of their program without losing clinical hours. The programs focus less on the popular Western cultures and emphasize both cultural immersion and service. This has been ranked at the #4 best study abroad program in the nation. Not surprisingly, a lot of students will do a service year after graduating.

Goshen arborAlthough campus is cut in half by the railroad, it’s accessible and very walkable. There are also lots of bikes and long boards around (and the Trail along the canal right off campus that even gets plowed!). The have a Native Landscape Garden running alongside the train tracks; an annual Burn is done in the spring by students in the Sustainability Major.

Goshen quad 2“Walking through campus, it was a feeling I could only describe as peace,” said the tour guide. “It may sound cheesy, but that’s what we’ve got.” It’s a fairly residential campus, but not entirely. Students must live on campus until they earn 90 credits or are 22 years old. About 30% of students true commuters (living at home with family) with maybe 45% total living off campus. That being said, campus is active: we visited campus from about 5-7:30pm, and students were out and about around campus. The dining hall was full. People were taking advantage of spaces. The tour guide said that there’s a lot to do on and around campus – a couple things worth mentioning were Slip-n-Slide kickball and Bad Karaoke Breakfast Bash.

The city of Goshen has a population of 32,000 which helps support lots of things to do. “Night life in downtown is really good,” said the tour guide. The students we ate dinner with said that there was a lot to do and that First Fridays in town were popular. Many business owners are alumni who didn’t leave town. They support the students with discounts, hiring them, etc, and the college supports them in return through placing orders (t-shirts, etc). There’s also an interurban trolley between Elkhart and Goshen for students wanting to go a little further afield without too much effort.

Goshen chapel

The campus chapel (also used by the community)

Although this is a Mennonite school, they are open and welcoming to people of all or no faith. The rep said that they have students from 41 Christian and 12 world religions on campus. Students of any level or denomination of faith will be comfortable here. Acceptance is the primary goal: “It’s an interesting, eclectic place.” For some people, this would be too much in terms of individual differentness. “Here it doesn’t matter. We’re do inclusiveness on purpose.” The rep, who grew up in nearby Angola and got her Masters here at Goshen, told me that some local churches have stopped giving scholarships to students if attended Goshen because of the colleges inclusiveness towards the LGBTQ community (who are very safe and welcomed on campus).

Goshen concert hall

The concert hall

Their Mennonite numbers have been dwindling from about 48% to 28% over the years, reflective of the general population in the church. They’ve been popular with students from similar denominations such as Quaker. Students do need to earn 12 convocation credits per term. Convos can be whatever the students want them to be: it could be students presenting about their SST experiences, an author speaking, etc. “Sometimes they’ll offer it for campus events like bbqs, sports, or theater performances,” said the tour guide. “These aren’t faith-based. You can also get credit by going to chapel, but there are enough other options that you can completely fulfill it without ever doing something religious.” As Mennonite institution, they do house the Mennonite Historical Library, one of the largest collections of primary source material. “You can do genealogy there.”

I’m really impressed with the range and quality of academics offered here:

© 2019

Johnson & Wales, Providence

Johnson and Wales, Providence (visited 4/29/19)

J&W sculptureThis is an amazing college for students wanting a solid education with hands-on components, students who want “to try new things, to succeed and even fail. We support them and help them transition.” Students start with their major on day one – but can work with their advisor to change. They can figure it out early if it isn’t the right fit. “This is the place to come if you want to learn and get a job. Students get hired.”

J&W chocolate lab

Chocolates lab class

J&W’s Providence campus is the flagship (with other campuses in Charlotte, Denver, and Miami). When students apply, they pick a campus but are accepted to all four. The school was founded by 2 women in 1914 before women were even allowed to vote – yet they started a major university as a business school to build opportunities for women and provide them with relevant skill sets in the work force. They still have strong business programs, including Equine Business Management (with Riding or Non-Riding options), Advertising & Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, and Restaurant/Food/Beverage Management.

J&W 2The Providence campus now offers 70 programs (majors vary a bit between campuses). Students are allowed to move between campuses, assuming their major is offered at the other location. The university offers Associates (Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts) through Doctoral (Education) degrees. Students in the AS programs can roll into a related Bachelor’s program in the same or similar majors, including Food Service Management, Culinary Nutrition, Tourism & Hospitality Management, Dietetics & Applied Nutrition, or Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship.

J&W student centerThe university also continues to grow and try new things, as well. In the fall of 2019, 2 new majors are being implemented: Integrated Product Design and Comp Sci. In the fall of 2020, 4 more will begin: Sustainable Food System, Biomedical Science, Economics, and Create Your Own. They also offer accelerated Master’s Programs in areas like Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Organizational Psychology, Data Analytics, Information Security/Assurance, MBA, Global Leadership & Sustainable Economic Development, and Sport Leadership.

J&W Harborside

The Harborside campus

Classes are capped at 40 (some are capped at a lower point because of the physical work space), but class size averages only 21. Faculty members are experts in their field, many of whom have worked in the industry before coming to campus. They can help with networking, internships, and jobs. J&W has cultivated relationships with multiple companies and has over 1000 internship sites. Students can start interning as early as sophomore year (but junior year is more common).

J&W 3Providence’s campus is split into two parts about 3 miles apart (less than 10 minutes depending on traffic), and students can live on either one regardless of where their classes are held. There is a separate equine center located about 25 minutes away (actually across state lines in Massachusetts!) with regular shuttles running up there.

J&W Downcity res quad

The residential quad on the Downcity Campus

Student parking is located on the Harborside campus because of space issues, and shuttles run regularly between the two sites. We had breakfast in large meeting room in a building that has a dining hall and a res hall. Some of the students have rooms that overlook the water! This campus also has the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Their culinary program is absolutely phenomenal! All aspects of the trade are taught. For example, students take a mixology lab: they use colored water instead of actual alcohol (“it would get prohibitively expensive to keep dumping alcohol down the drain,” said our tour guide). For their final exam, they dim the lights and blare music to mimic the industry. They have to prepare 12 drinks in 12 minutes. There’s also restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner to just over 60 people. Students in a sophomore-level class work the restaurant and rotate through all aspects of it to learn everything from table set-up to service to food prep. The dessert comes from the Baking & Pastry labs. Students rotate through all sorts of labs; materials and uniforms (collar colors indicate different programs and progression: the lighter the color, the further along a student is) are included in tuition. Students learn how to use everything and not waste things. They use cuttings as garnish, they’ll dry and grind up leftover vegetables for powers to flavor dishes, etc.

The Downcity campus takes up 6 city blocks; the same amenities are on that campus including a pretty residential quad. They even have a pet-friendly floor! There is a bit of commuter parking at this campus, but it tends to be pricey. Providence has great arts, music, and restaurant scenes. This is a great college town with several universities nearby (including Brown, RISD, and Providence College), so places cater to students. For example, there’s a nearby event center that sells tickets at 50% off 2 hours before showtime.

© 2019

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