In tandem with the strategic planning process, Trinity faculty developed the Pathways curriculum to emphasize interdisciplinary learning for all students, including an intensive first-year experience program and course clusters that encourage students to investigate issues of enduring and contemporary significance through a variety of disciplinary lenses.
Trinity continued its focus on interdisciplinary learning by appointing Michael Hughes ’05 to First-Year Experience (FYE) Coordinator. The FYE “was designed to engage a range of topics of widespread and enduring significance” and to foster the skills and perspectives in all first-year students that will help them excel after graduation.
As the FYE coordinator, Hughes aims to “make it easier for faculty to propose, develop, and recruit members to new [FYE] courses.” He additionally plans to “work with Academic Affairs to identify barriers [to FYE] and reduce or remove them,” in order to increase the overall interdisciplinary focus of Trinity’s curriculum.
To help enhance this FYE focus, the University provides two-day workshops that allow faculty to make curriculum decisions that develop new skills and sharpen old ones. With sessions like “New Approaches to Research” or “Critical Reading Approaches to Non-Literary Texts,” professors from all departments are more prepared to teach an interdisciplinary course. The workshops also instill a sense of shared purpose and “build a sense of community in the FYE,” according to Willis Salomon, the former FYE coordinator.
FYE increases interdisciplinary focus at Trinity as it “integrates two courses, a seminar and a writing workshop, which once had no formal relationship, producing instructional environments in which each discussion deepens understanding of the topic at hand,” says Hughes. “There are no empty exercises.”
As a main feature of the new Pathways curriculum, FYE “welcomes students from across the world, some of whom are more experienced or capable than others, but each of whom will leave the course equipped with the tools necessary to think and communicate at the level of sophistication expected by their future instructors and employers,” Hughes explains.