Brainstorming for Guilford’s Future

[The following was written by Nancy Daukas]

The UNC Board has recommended to the state legislature that three progressive centers in the state system be closed (a vote is pending): UNCCH center for the study of poverty, ECU Center for Biodiversity, NC Central Institute for Civic engagement and social change. recommends-elimination.html?rh=1

The time is right for us to let people in NC know that Guilford is the in-state place to send their kids if they are concerned about issues of social justice, civic engagement, environmental responsibility, peace and cross-cultural understanding. This isn’t just about marketing; it’s about programming:

ROUGH DRAFT Suggestion for possible discussion: Expand and restructure IDS. IDS includes four centers:

1.  ‘Center for Studies of diversity and social justice’. One or two shared core courses, but separate majors (e.g., WGSS, Comm. Justice). Create a ‘Race and Ethnicity studies’ program with an AfAm major within it but also room for others. Allow students to propose independent majors in related areas while developing them as offered programs, such as: Native American Studies, Immigration studies, Disability studies, Hispanic-American st.

Multicultural Ed would belong under this umbrella and would be central to programming

2. Center for Science, Technology, and Society studies: Env St would live here, so would an ethically-rich Biotech and public health – major, maybe an STS major or minor …

3. Center for Peace and International Studies…. or Peace & Global cultures….? This could house IS, PECS, Study Abroad, FL ??

4. Center for Civic Engagement (previously PPS): umbrella for Bonner, QLSP, and a central organizational center for internships & experiential learning connected to the IDS curricula.

NOTE: We’d still have our traditional majors & departments, but some might opt to become IDS majors in those centers instead of traditional disciplinary majors. Most traditional disciplinary majors would participate in at least one center, some in all.

Establish joint appointments to make the IDS programs secure. Lay out very clear contract-based FTE allotments to ensure that no one is doing more than one FTE even when all IDS engagement is factored in, and that IDS involvement is formally included in all FAC procedures

Every student (eventually) would take a major or minor in one of the centers; all majors & minors include community learning.

Clarification: as some have noticed, there is thematic overlap among the three centers. Precisely: all the boundaries are somewhat fizzy, but needed administratively. Thematically, think of the centers more as ‘centers of gravity’ than as neat boxes.


This would make very visible our progressive leanings while creating opportunities for innovative development through tighter collaboration. Tighter collaboration would enhance cost efficiency

The centers would do ‘centralized’ programming involving intentional planning to avoid competing events, better use of funds, fewer events overall but all well-attended.


Each center would have a steering committee made up of participating program coordinators. The steering committee would have a faculty coordinator and staff coordinator to strengthen co-curricular development.

These would not be new positions, they would involve some re-organizing of already existing positions.   (Ideally: each center also has an admin asst. once financially possible.)


  1. This line of thinking very much appeals to me for several reasons.
    1. I love this idea: “The time is right for us to let people in NC know that Guilford is the in-state place to send their kids if they are concerned about issues of social justice, civic engagement, environmental responsibility, peace and cross-cultural understanding.” Same for adult students!
    2. I think we need to find new ways to support interdisciplinary programs.
    3. We need to reduce duplication and competition between programs.
    4. We need to integrate academic departments, interdisciplinary programs, and other academic programs (CPPS, study abroad, MED, Bonners….) more effectively.

    I have some questions about the structure Nancy suggests. Could we have a forum to discuss these ideas? They seem closely related to the curriculum revision I hope we’re going to begin. Thanks to all who contributed!

  2. I think this is a great start for us to think about how to capitalize on our strengths!

    I’ve also been thinking about our gen ed curriculum, and how it might better support our students in integrating all they learn and do here, without incurring costs.

    What if in addition to two semesters of writing, most students did a 2-semester core seminar in mathematical and scientific literacy? One that would be interdisciplinary, and make them good, and well-informed, critical thinkers?

    Then a 2-semester core on Arts and Global Culture (or something), that would INTEGRATE language learning?

    Finally, a 2-semester core involving the study of history, systems, and institutions, including experiential and/or community learning — they’d be learning research, but not just academic research … including responsible use of the web and social media?

    I know it’s a logistical nightmare, but it seems like it could do a lot for them in the first year, and then give them time and space to focus on majors, including IDS centers, in their next three years?

    I agree with Tom that some forum-time would be great to see what ideas everyone’s got.


  3. Vance asked me to post this: check out Hampshire College’s summer social justice program. Can this be a model for us?