Student-led IDEAS Program Strengthens Leadership, Deepens Learning

The IDEAS program enables students to become more active learners and take ownership over their education by engaging their peers in intellectual conversations focused on topics and ideas about which they are passionate.

Why IDEAS Is Important?

Democratic education celebrates the joy of learning and enables students to play an active role in shaping their own learning by creating a framework for the sharing of ideas, learning philosophies, teaching practices and community visions. These programs give students more ownership over their education and they are a vehicle for students to share their passions, experiences and wisdom with their peers in ways that aren’t always possible in a traditional classroom setting. 

IDEAS courses foster intellectual discussions among peers where everyone plays an equal role in teaching and learning. IDEAS classes promote open discussion and multiple opinions which leads to greater class participation. This type of environment has led to students being more confident after taking part in the classes. Students who take part in these classes tend to gain confidence and are more willing to offer opinions during discussions than in traditional classes. 

Students often have the ability to shape the direction of courses. Facilitators are incredibly responsive to their students and often cater their courses to what the students would like to learn. The practice of democratic education increases student engagement because students take ownership over their education and create the course alongside their peers.

IDEAS courses makes Stonehill graduates more attractive to graduate schools and employers because of the initiative reflected in teaching a course as well as  the skills developed in the process. The program provides an opportunity to gain confidence and teaching experience as well as skills that can be used on a broader scale to engage and lead groups through effective management, cooperation and administrative skills.

The IDEAS program not only benefits Stonehill students. It also invites faculty members into a conversation about democratic education. By creating an inclusive, judgment-free environment, similar to the IDEAS program, faculty may discover that discussions are more fruitful in the traditional classroom.

IDEAS classes are heavily based on collaboration and effective communication. Better collaboration undoubtedly leads not only to improved group projects and assignments but greater mastery of the course content. Additionally, courses often require oral presentations, a task feared by many students. If students become more comfortable participating during an IDEAS course, they will not only be more inclined to share their opinions during traditional course discussions but also will become better at classroom presentations. 

IDEAS Classes for Spring 2021

APL 090 A: IDEAS: Dance & New Media

This course will utilize media to better understand dance during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will look into how the dance community has adapted the way they learn, teach, and watch dance. To explore these changes, students will first become familiar with media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube to appreciate how social media has shaped the community even behind a screen. Students will also learn the fundamentals of how to create dance-related content on these platforms. Unlike a traditional dance course, the class will focus on pandemic adaptations of dance over movement. Students will have an opportunity to lead a discussion, conduct research on topics of their choosing, and learn from guest lectures by dance professionals. For the final project, students will take this knowledge and choose a platform to create their dance-related content. This experience will excite students about the current and expanding contemporary advances of the dance community.

APL 090 B: IDEAS: Drag: Rise & Resistance

In this course, students will learn about drag culture and how it became popular in American society. We will begin with the recent history of the LGBTQ+ community in America and discuss how widespread access to the community has changed public perspectives. Additionally, we will explore how the internal and external conversations surrounding drag have developed through different social media platforms. We will also examine the cultural and political significance of drag as an art form and the impact of popular drag-driven television shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-) and Pose (2018-). The course will also open discussions on the rise of drag culture in the context of race, ethnicity, and gender disparity in modern America. To explore these concerns, we will look at topics such as systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community. We will look at theories of gender, and collaboratively apply them to media portrayals of drag. As a community, we will have in-depth, peer-led, challenging discussions with the goal of recognizing the relevance of drag culture. Students will also choose topics that interest them, conduct research, and share their findings with the class.

APL 090 C: IDEAS: Exploring Money & Power

This course will explore how money can enable you to live a life of financial freedom and financial power. Students will first understand basic financial literacy by creating a personal budget and tracking it using excel. Students will then learn about the fundamentals of investing by making real and hypothetical investments and tracking the growth of their portfolios. The third unit will introduce students to cryptocurrencies by investing in one or more cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), or Ethereum (ETH). Throughout the course, students will participate in class discussions, group work, and weekly discussion boards to better grasp the concepts around financial literacy, financial management, digital currencies, and digital payments.

These classes show the importance of interpersonal interactions and closeness in the academic process. When you feel supported and comfortable, you will be more open to new perspectives.

Contact Us:

Wanjiru G. Mbure

Wanjiru G. Mbure

Associate Professor of Communication, Integrating Democratic Education (IDEAS) Program Director
Cushing Martin 118
Communication