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ACM to Shift Student Learning Experiences as Part of New Strategic Direction

Published: May 22, 2018

ACM to Shift Student Learning Experiences as Part of New Strategic Direction

As part of its long-term strategic planning, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) will pursue a new set of innovative, place-based experiences that better meet the needs of students and faculty at its member campuses. As a first step, ACM will discontinue the majority of its current off-campus study programs around the world after the 2018–2019 academic year.

ACM, a consortium of 14 outstanding, residential liberal arts colleges, was an early leader in developing high-quality off-campus study programs, launching its programming in the 1960s at a time when there were few options for students and faculty to study abroad. These programs provided a transformative, engaged learning experience for students along with valuable opportunities for faculty development. For more than five decades, over 20,000 students and 350 faculty members have participated in enriching experiences in 30 programs around the world.

“To the benefit of ACM students and scholars, other providers caught up with ACM and there are now many more options for students to choose from,” ACM President Sonya Malunda said. “As a result of this competition, enrollment in ACM international study programs has been declining for several years.”

ACM is working this summer to flesh out a set of student experiences patterned after ACM’s successful Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities, based at the Newberry Library in Chicago. “The Newberry program receives consistently high marks because it involves a highly engaged partner, enjoys strong faculty interest, and creates an integrated experience for students including research opportunities and an internship at the Newberry,” Malunda said.

“Sonya’s experience in leading civic engagement programs at the University of Chicago and her extensive relationships across the city are a huge asset for the ACM,” said Steven G. Poskanzer, chair of the ACM Board of Directors and President of Carleton College. “We see an opportunity to extend the Newberry model to other potential partners, including cultural organizations, civic and nonprofit partners, and businesses. As ACM pilots and learns from new programs that work well, we can imagine expanding this model to other cities and regions.”

While ACM is in the process of ramping up new student programming, it will begin winding down off-campus study programs in 11 countries. In addition to the Newberry Seminar, ACM will continue to offer two programs administered by partners: the Oak Ridge Science Semester (managed by Denison University) and the Japan Study Program (managed by Earlham College).

In Fall 2018, programs will operate in Amsterdam, Chicago (ACM Chicago and Newberry Seminar), Costa Rica, Florence, Jordan, Shanghai, and Tanzania and in Spring 2019, programs will operate in Costa Rica, India, and London and Florence. Applications are still being accepted for Fall 2018 programs in Costa Rica, Shanghai and Tanzania and for all Spring 2019 programs.

ACM’s Board of Directors began its strategic planning effort in October 2017 with the hiring of ACM’s new president. ACM’s goal is to offer high-quality programming that its members cannot get elsewhere and that is strengthened by a collaborative approach.

ACM’s planning builds on its existing, grant-funded programs that support faculty development and collaboration; connect ACM students with graduate programs at research universities; and strengthen pipelines for underrepresented students and faculty. To add to these highly successful efforts, ACM is exploring new programs that focus on faculty development and support; immersive, place-based experiences for students; diversity and inclusion programming; staff leadership development; and ways to help member campuses reduce costs. 

“In a rapidly changing environment for higher education, the ACM Presidents believe our collaboration provides great value,” said Poskanzer. “We are committed to ensuring the ACM is nimble and able to meet the evolving needs of its members.”

The consortium will continue to assess its program offerings, review data trends, and consider feedback from students, faculty, and academic leaders at the 14 campuses through 2018, using this input to inform new program development.

More information about ACM programs is available in the Off Campus Study section and FAQs below.

Contact: Brian Williams

About the ACM

The ACM is a consortium of 14 academically excellent, independent liberal arts colleges located in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. Together, these institutions offer students, faculty, and staff a wide range of opportunities in off-campus study, professional development, networking and information sharing.


FAQs

What is ACM’s strategic planning process?

How do ACM’s planning efforts support its current, grant-funded programs?

What kind of student learning experiences will ACM focus on in the future?

Why is ACM discontinuing international off-campus study programs?

What is the history of ACM off-campus study programs?

Which ACM student programs are continuing?

Which programs are being offered in 2018–2019?

Which programs are still accepting student applications?

Which programs are no longer being offered this year?

What is the timeline for offering new student learning experiences?

Will ACM still maintain records in case students need a transcript for graduate school?

Where can I get more information about a specific program I’m interested in? 


What is ACM’s strategic planning process?

As part of a strategic planning effort launched by the ACM Board of Directors in October 2017, the consortium has been assessing its program offerings, reviewing data trends, and considering feedback from students, faculty, and academic leaders at the 14 campuses. ACM’s goal is to offer high-quality programming in support of student learning experiences, faculty development, and shared services that its members cannot get elsewhere and that is strengthened by a collaborative approach. ACM’s strategic planning work will continue through 2018, with new programs to be developed and announced over time.

How do ACM’s planning efforts support its current, grant-funded programs?

ACM’s planning builds on its existing, grant-funded programs that support faculty development and collaboration; connect ACM students with graduate programs at research universities; and strengthen pipelines for underrepresented students and faculty. These highly successful programs will continue, and their effectiveness will help to inform new program development. 

What kind of student learning experiences will ACM focus on in the future?

As part of its long-term strategic planning, ACM will pursue a new set of innovative, place-based experiences that better meet the needs of students and faculty at its member campuses. ACM is working this summer to flesh out a set of student experiences patterned after ACM’s successful Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities, based at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The consortium has the opportunity to extend the Newberry model to other potential partners, including cultural organizations, civic and nonprofit partners, and businesses in Chicago. As these new efforts are piloted and become successful, they may be expanded to other cities and regions.

Why is ACM discontinuing international off-campus study programs? 

ACM was a leader in off-campus study programming beginning in the 1960s, at a time when there were few options for students and faculty to study abroad. Now the space is crowded with providers and a wide range of opportunities and experiences for students to choose from. The greater array of options is good for students and faculty at ACM campuses, but necessitates a shift in ACM strategy.

This change means the majority of ACM’s current off-campus study programs around the world will cease operation after the 2018–2019 academic year. 

What is the history of ACM off-campus study programs?

ACM began offering off-campus study programs in Costa Rica, India, and Liberia in the 1960s. For more than five decades, more than 20,000 students and 350 faculty members have participated in enriching experiences in 30 programs around the world as part of ACM’s programs.

ACM will use coming months to create the next generation of programs that are attractive to students, financially viable, and meet the needs of its member colleges.

Which ACM student programs are continuing?

The ACM will still operate the Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities and will continue to partner with Japan Study (based at Earlham College) and the Oak Ridge Science Semester (based at Denison University).

Which programs are being offered in 2018-2019?

In Fall 2018, programs will operate in Amsterdam, Chicago (Chicago Program and Newberry Seminar in the Humanities), Costa Rica, Florence, Jordan, Shanghai, and Tanzania and in Spring 2019, programs will operate in Costa Rica, India, and London and Florence. Students and faculty participating in these programs in 2018–2019 will continue to have the same high-quality academic experience they have come to expect from ACM. 

Which programs are still accepting student applications

Applications are still being accepted for Fall 2018 programs in ChicagoCosta Rica, Shanghai, and Tanzania and for all Spring 2019 programs.

Which programs are no longer being offered this year?

Programs in Botswana, Brazil, and India (fall) have low enrollment and will no longer be offered during the coming academic year. 

What is the timeline for offering new student learning experiences?

ACM will be working over the summer to flesh out a set of new student learning experiences that respond to student interests and member needs. Programs will be announced and piloted as they are developed.

Will ACM still maintain records in case students need a transcript for graduate school? 

Yes. Program alumni can continue to request copies of their grade recommendation form from ACM.

Where can I get more information about a specific program I’m interested in? 

See ACM’s Off Campus Study section for details about specific programs.

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