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Liberal Arts Rocks

Agnes Scott’s new theme this year is “The Village Rocks,” a phrase that builds on last year’s successful “It takes a village.” The amazingness of interdepartmental collaboration is evident in everything on campus, from the Bradley Observatory plaza (Art and Astronomy), the Writers’ Festival Magazine (Art and English), EFL classes for Agnes Scott landscapers (Religious Studies and Anthropology), and more.

The benefits of collaboration extend to my work, as well. I had a meeting yesterday with Brenda Hoke, Professor of Sociology/Anthropology. One assumption about e-portfolios is that they are only useful for art students, and that art students are the only people who can figure out how to make them. Both Brenda and I disagree.

We talked about how her SOC 319 class can use e-portfolios. SOC 319 is an experience-based course that requires each of the five students in it to complete a practicum. The students don’t know exactly where they’ll be placed yet, but Brenda mentioned CARE and a few other impressive organizations as possibilities.

Before the meeting, I thought the class would benefit from a blog like the ones that two First Year Seminars have set up (see the “class e-portfolios” box to your right). I quickly realized, though, that this course will require a different approach. Instead of doing a group e-portfolio, it makes more sense for these students to flesh out individual e-portfolios. They’ll all have unique experiences at their various internship sites, and instead of first-years, most of them are juniors and seniors. While they can and should read up on each other’s experiences, it seems like individual blogs and webpages would provide the space they need to reflect and make connections between these practicums, their readings, other classes, their extracurriculars, and future plans. They’re also closer to applying for jobs and graduate schools, so now’s the time to illustrate why they’re a few of many amazing Agnes Scott students.

I meet with the class on Monday to talk about the benefits of blogging. They’re already required to maintain a weekly journal, so it makes sense that this assignment could be a blog. That way they can get feedback from classmates and others about their experiences. I hope to meet with each student one-on-one so that we can brainstorm other ways they can use Web spaces for reflection and self-promotion. I imagine most of them won’t have the time or energy to learn Dreamweaver, but there may be alternatives like Google Sites to experiment with.

Brenda hopes that the Soc/Anthro department will move towards requiring an e-portfolio of all their majors. I was a little nervous thinking about what I would suggest a major include, seeing as I have no experience in those fields. The Writing Center tackles the inexperience issue by asking professors to come to our weekly meetings to discuss their departments’ requirements for papers. The Writing Center also makes handouts about writing different types of papers for students to reference. I asked Brenda to draft a list of what a Soc/Anthro major should have in her e-portfolio that I as a tutor can use as a guide. Maybe that can also be the topic of one of our first handouts. 

A highlight of the meeting was Brenda making connections between my work with design and her work with sociology. A blossoming field is visual sociology/anthropology. We didn’t have time to discuss these connections in detail, but she did mention a conference sponsored by the International Visual Sociology Association. Their site looks really exciting, and I love the idea that we may be able to collaborate on a presentation!




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