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Provost's Update - October 2018

Several months ago, I shared with you my perspectives on our land grant commitment to teaching, research, and service and how closely it is connected to disciplinary depth, interdisciplinary capacity, and the purpose-driven learning opportunities that define VT-shaped learning. This relationship is also closely connected to our Beyond Boundaries vision and its commitment to providing students with deeper educational experiences and ways to engage with and enrich the communities we serve.

Opportunities for our campus community to engage in experiential learning can be seen in a variety of areas. One example is the University Innovation Fellows program which, in partnership with Stanford University, empowers student leaders to create positive change and advocates for college students across the globe to devise new ideas and projects for their institutions related to innovation, entrepreneurship, and design.

Virginia Tech’s study abroad programs, offered through the Global Education Office, create experiential learning opportunities that immerse our students in diverse environments and cultures where they can gain perspectives and create impacts that will improve the human condition here at home and around the world. VT Engage offers transformative opportunities for students to partner with nonprofit organizations and create service programs based on community need. It also enables students to work closely with faculty to develop and strengthen leadership skills and community learning experiences.

While we continue our focus on exemplary learning experiences for our students through foundational initiatives, it is important to recognize that experiential learning engages and impacts our faculty and staff as well. Through foundational initiatives such as Destination Areas and InclusiveVT, we are merging a powerful combination of academic and research strengths with highly-talented faculty and staff who are creating transformative learning opportunities for our entire campus community. When all this is guided by our commitment to Ut Prosim and the power of service, it distinguishes Virginia Tech and empowers us to create positive change in the world.

From VT Engage to University Innovation Fellows to DAs and InclusiveVT to study abroad and internships, experiential learning is a defining attribute of Virginia Tech that does not stop at graduation or at the boarders of our campus. As leaders and advocates, we need to ensure that experiential learning is formally and intentionally imbedded in every curriculum and opportunity to educate. To advance this commitment, a proposed Academy for Experiential Learning is being developed that will support faculty and academic leaders in extending traditional classroom learning to tackle authentic problems and work in real-world contexts.

The foundational goal of the Academy for Experiential Learning is to ensure that all students at Virginia Tech participate in experiential learning meaningfully embedded in their program of study, through a student-focused approach to curricular and co-curricular programs, courses, and activities. As academic leaders with a focus on the future, we need to encourage our faculty to look for opportunities to incorporate experiential learning in the curriculum.

As the Academy for Experiential Learning and our commitment to purpose-driven learning and engagement continues to develop, I hope that you will share your ideas, perspectives, and expertise on these key initiatives.