In our Problem-Based Courses, co-taught by faculty from diverse disciplines, students from Chemistry to Creative Writing collaborate to address real-world problems informed by Lancaster community partners who are facing pressing challenges. We train our students to work in teams across disciplines to address issues that require nimble thinking and a bias toward action, raise ethical questions, demand almost constant individual and group reflection and communication, and don’t have one academic home or disciplinary solution. In many of the classes, students are partnered with regional community organizations and non-profits who have identified the complex problems we’d like the students to explore. In others, the students address issues we and they face at our own institution. One of the capacities we most want our students to learn is creative flexibility. There could be an infinite number of ways to approach a thorny, real-world problem, and none of them will ever be perfect. There is an art to bouncing after a fall. Just focus on the iterative process of drafting, discernment, failure, and re-envisioning, we say, and the product will come.
We also want to help students from across the disciplines gain comfort with technology, analyze its effects critically, and recognize its potential to create powerful change. In our courses and summer program, we introduce students to some of the crucial technological tools they will encounter when they enter the world of work.