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Catalyst, the new core curriculum, debuts this fall

Catalyst, the new core curriculum recently adopted by Ripon College, begins rolling out to the first-year class in the fall semester of 2016. The traditional liberal arts and sciences approach to education prepares students for lifelong learning and exposes the student to a breadth of disciplines generating skills necessary for success in any endeavor.

But the needs of employers are changing, and education changes too. Recent surveys of employers suggest that there are more pathways for graduates to competently transfer liberal arts skills to professional tasks, and families increasingly question whether liberal education provides value commensurate to the cost.

Employers most value flexibility and adaptable skills, says Ed Wingenbach, dean of faculty. “Collaboration and communication are highly valued and essential,” he says. “Learning outcomes that at least four in five employers rate as very important are: oral communication, working effectively with others in teams, written communication, critical/analytical thinking, and applying knowledge/skills to the real world.”

Students need to learn flexibility and transferrable skills, Wingenbach says. “Today’s average graduate will have eight to 10 careers in his or her lifetime, and the 10 fastest growing careers in 2015 didn’t even exist in 2005.”

The new Catalyst curriculum addresses these challenges while preserving Ripon College’s commitment to the humanities and fine arts. In the first four semesters at Ripon College, students will complete four different Catalyst courses, building skills in written communication, quantitative reasoning, intercultural competence, and interdisciplinary integration.

The fifth semester will culminate with the Applied Innovation Seminar. Students will collaborate within teams to develop and present solutions to complex, multifaceted, open-ended, and socially relevant problems, using the liberal arts skills developed throughout Catalyst.

Every student who completes the Catalyst requirements will earn a concentration in applied innovation.