What in the world are we doing?

Mark Putnam works on his iPad, an example of the technology changing our lives.

A bit of sarcasm? Not at all. I offer this question with great sincerity at an important time in Central College’s history. Perhaps now more than ever, the quality of the questions we ask is more important than a quick search for easy answers. The world has changed dramatically in the past four years. Long-held assumptions are proving to be less reliable in a world marked by the economic, social and political change sweeping through every family, community, region and nation. It’s an amazing time to be in college.

The greatest periods of change in higher education have emerged when societal change is at its peak. The pathways of migration across this country yielded community after community eager to establish a college. Pella is a good example. The post-Civil War period and the industrial revolution ushered in the need for technical education and land grant colleges established through the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The GI Bill made access to higher education a national priority, and the “Sputnik” moment of the 1950s opened the pathway to expanding research universities. In each generation, the shape and size of higher education changed as our society responded to a changing world.

Another of those defining moments is upon us, and we have an opportunity to think deeply, ask the right questions and formulate answers that honor our mission and tradition while embracing change. Central has an amazing capacity for innovation, evidenced by the early development of study abroad more than 45 years ago, a highly creative Intersections program for first-year students and a growing commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

The Inaugural Year experience (2010-11) allowed us to explore ourselves and the world through many lenses and formulate some important questions. Through 47 events and activities, several retreats and workshops and many meaningful discussions, we have prepared for the Planning Year (2011-12). Today, more than 100 of our faculty, staff and student colleagues are working in seven teams to outline a pathway for our future. It’s an exciting time, and I invite you to be an active participant. If you happen to be on campus, join us in person. If not, be active virtually through our website for planning: www.central.edu/go/yeartwo.

The teams are exploring three principal movements that will help define our future:

  • Global, Experiential Learning
  • The Arts and Creativity
  • The Future of Health Science and Health-Related Careers

We are also examining a set of cross-cutting themes that have been important values for Central over time and touch all of our programs:

  • Learning and New Technologies
  • Sustainability
  • Civic Engagement

Throughout, we will seek ways to understand the interdisciplinary connec-tions that will enable us to integrate our curricular and co-curricular programs into a transformational educational experience for each of our students.

Join us today in exploring our future and help us affirm and discover the unique gifts Central can offer a changing world.

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