Intellectual Programming2011 by lUTtoF


									         Intellectual Programming:
      NSR Best Practices Project Report

                     November 18, 2011
                      Rice University

Mary Anderson, Justin Fu, Travis Hoyt, Trent Navran, Eric Pai,
           Michael Pan, Grace Yu, Melissa Yuan

         Michael Lam, Emily Robinson, Mika Tabata

                        Joey Spinella
November 28, 2011

                                  Table of Contents

       I.     Summary
       II.    Introduction
       III.   Methods
       IV.    Discussion
       V.     Conclusion: Call to Action
       VI.    Appendix

Student Association Intellectual Programming          2
November 28, 2011

        Intellectual programming is any organized out-of-classroom learning experiences that
foster stimulating discussions and engages students to critically think about issues in a new light.
As New Student Representatives to the Student Association, we tackled this project focusing on
intellectual programming to discover: 1) the current intellectual atmosphere at the residential
colleges; 2) the present needs for programming and the value of enriching current programming;
and 3) the best practices in intellectual programming, or those programs that are working
effectively, which can be modeled across all the residential colleges in some form.
        Through extensive interviews of student leaders, which includes Head Peer Academic
Advisers (PAAs), Head Academic Fellows/Mentors, Academic Committee Heads, and College
Presidents, and College Masters at all eleven residential colleges, we noticed trends and
challenges that existed across campus. Student leaders have constantly remarked that student
attendance at programs categorized as intellectual programming has been poor, which many
attribute to the priority Rice students place on studying and doing well in their academic classes.
The roles of PAAs and Academic Fellows/Mentors are also often unclear, which further
contributes to the lack of a strong intellectual programming presence at all of the colleges.
Although student leaders are often utilizing college email list serves and fliers to advertise
events, such methods of communicating with the student body have been limited in effect.
        Certain events have been very successful despite these challenges. Intellectual programs
such as guest lectures that appeal to a variety of interests (ie. Jones’ Lecture Series), research
symposiums and career-related workshops, and cultural events have all been effective at
garnering students’ attention and engaging students to view ideas and issues in various
perspectives. McMurtry also has a very successful discussion and tea format known as
BurtTalks, while Duncan has a Scholar-in-Residence program that allows interested students to
engage in meaningful discussion with invited scholars. These programs can serve as models for
colleges in the pursuit of more engaging intellectual programming events.
        There are certainly many challenges in hosting events that fall under intellectual
programming, but there does exist specific programs at select colleges that seem to work. When
events are strategically placed in such a way that it fits naturally into students’ schedules, they
will become more effective. Only when intellectual programming becomes a way-of-life and is
infused into every aspect of a student’s daily activities can enthusiasm for intellectual events and
discussions be sustained. On the path to achieving that, though, student leaders and Masters at
the eleven residential colleges can host events and programs on a routine basis that appeal to
students of various interests. To further create a culture of intellectualism across the colleges,
student leaders and Masters should consider opening up college-specific programs to a larger
audience and encourage inter-college cooperation in hosting events. Even though we are eleven
separate residential colleges each with its own student government, we are all a part of the larger
Rice community in which excellence in intellectual programming should be actively developed
and shared.

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                       3
November 28, 2011


Each of the 11 residential colleges have 3 New Student Representatives (NSRs) each year who
are incoming new or freshman students. These NSRs are interviewed and selected by the Senator
at each respective college. The NSRs’ responsibilities include attending the Student Association
meetings on Monday nights at Farnsworth Pavilion, acting as liaisons between the students at
their college and the SA, working on two major projects benefiting the student community in a
school year, and helping the Senator with other duties.

Motivation for the Project
We believe that intellectual programming is a vital part of a vibrant student life for
undergraduate students. We have defined Intellectual Programming as organized out-of-
classroom learning experiences that are engaging and mentally stimulating. The purposes of the
project are: to assess the intellectual atmosphere at all the residential colleges; to assess the
current needs for programming as well as the value of enriching current programming; and
finally, to find out what current best practices are and see if they can be better adapted across
campus so that all students gain maximum benefit.

Critical Items
Throughout our research we discovered several features that are critical to Intellectual
Programming in all the colleges:
    ● Some demand exists for intellectual programming
    ● Rice students in general don't crave intellectual programming but are receptive to
        programming specific to their own interests
    ● Programming is always initiated with good intentions. The question is whether or not it is
        sustainable (good attendance)
    ● Continuity of events is important (annual, monthly, semesterly)
    ● Communication of events is important

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                        4
November 28, 2011

        In our Best Practices Project, we conducted interviews with those who would help our
understanding of academic/intellectual life within each of the 11 residential colleges. We
interviewed the Masters, PAA’s, Academic Fellows, College Presidents, Academic Committees
(if applicable) in each of the colleges. In the interviews, we truly wanted an understanding of
what types of programs or techniques fostered successful intellectual interaction within each
college. Our questions were as follows:

Interview Questions

For College Masters and College Presidents
Is there a specific role you play in addressing intellectual programming at your college?

What programs and events currently exist for students to engage in stimulating discussions in the
respective residential college?

How effective do you believe these “intellectual” programs and events are? How is attendance at
such events?

What is the general consensus among students at the respective residential college towards
events that allow for learning beyond the classroom and engaging discussions with fellow
students and adults? Is there a demand for such programs and events?

What are the college’s goals in terms of providing intellectual programming to students? What
would the college like to achieve?

For PAAs and Academic Fellows
What is your role as a PAA/Academic Fellow and what does the term “intellectual
programming” mean to you?

What do students normally approach you for? What specific needs are students looking for when
they contact you?

Would you say that there is a demand for programs and events that would allow for the free
exchange of stimulating ideas among students at your residential college?

What events do you currently host at the colleges and how are you structuring your mentoring?
Do you hold office hours, conduct review sessions, or do other related programs?

How is the intellectual atmosphere at your college?

For Residential College Academic Committee (if applicable)

What is the purpose of the academic committee at your college and what types of
programs/events does the committee put on?

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                      5
November 28, 2011

What is the demand for programs/events that stimulate engaging discussions outside the
classroom? In other words, are such programs/events heavily attended by students?

What current projects or long-term goals does the committee have in the area of intellectual
programming (defined as programs outside the classroom that stimulate discussion and enhance
classroom study among students?)

Other Methods
       Other than interviewing student and faculty leaders who played a role in Intellectual
Programming, a member of our group conducted a lunch conversation with someone from the
general student body that helped supply useful information for our project. This gave a
perspective of the intellectual life within the college from the outlook of the students.

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                   6
November 28, 2011

         Various factors at the colleges reveal the lacking features and improvements needed to
create a more vibrant intellectual life. At a majority of the colleges we interviewed, they
commented on how students tend to prioritize school over attending events, which is due to
either time constraints or accessibility. In our research we discovered that sometimes the roles of
the PAAs and the Academic Fellows are not clearly delineated, which makes it even harder for
the effective development of intellectual programs. In most of the colleges, the PAAs are mainly
there to provide course advising during registration times especially during O-Week. We found
that it is important that PAAs’ presence and roles be known beyond O-Week, in order for
students to clearly identify who in the college is a PAA. Meanwhile, the Academic Fellows
mainly focus on offering tutoring help for various courses during scheduled office hours.

How Colleges Are Addressing These Challenges
        Over the course of our interviews, however, we discovered distinct programs at the
residential colleges that effectively fostered a sense of intellectual identity, which could be
implemented at all the colleges. For example, Hanszen PAAs conduct lunch discussions with
students, creating an informal atmosphere to assist students with classes. At Jones, there is a
nicely designed poster in the commons displaying the names, photos, majors, and class years of
Academic Fellows and PAAs. There is also a section on the poster that outlines the distinct roles
of the two groups. This creates greater exposure of the Fellows and PAAs at the college, which
can be essential to bringing students out to intellectual events and other programs hosted by the
academic leaders.
        Another effective way of increasing intellectual vitality in the colleges is better
communication of events happening on campus such as at the Baker Institute; PAAs and Fellows
could do so by adding such events to the calendars on each respective college’s websites.
Cultural events could be another source of intellectual stimulation at the colleges. At Duncan, the
Masters have invited musicians from the community to give a performance, including a
discussion about the instruments and the history and culture of the type of music demonstrated.
Past performances featured a flute concert in the commons and a 20 musician band playing
Caribbean music in the Quad. Such cultural events should be promoted at all of the colleges, as
they are a great way to encourage student involvement, resulting in stimulating discussions
surrounding the cultural performance that come naturally.

Best Practices
        Though each residential college has identified lacking features in their intellectual
programming, all colleges have pushed toward increasing intellectual thought and stimulating
engaging conversation among their students. Colleges strive to achieve these goals through a
variety of means; for example, many colleges invite guest lecturers to speak, then opening the
floor to dialogue with the students. Several colleges also hold undergraduate research

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                      7
November 28, 2011

symposiums where students are able to share their research projects and experiences with their
college, opening intellectual discussion to a more personal level. Colleges across campus have
also established common events, such as promoting relationships with college associates through
events such as Associates Night. Many colleges also hold regular workshops targeted toward
improving interviewing and networking skills, resume building, and searching for internships. In
a more relaxed environment, college masters organize casual events for students, such as field
trips to museums and other buildings around Houston, or a night of wine tasting and
         Aside from the more common best practices, there were several residential colleges that
promoted intellectual discourse through specific events and/or organizations. Jones College has
their meaningful movie nights where they get together and watch classics and they usually end
up provoking discussion/debates among the students who attended. This provides a means to
relax but stay intellectually engaged. Jones College President also wants to provide what they
call “Table-talkers”: tripod-shaped flyers on tables in their Commons with philosophical
questions or topics for students to discuss during meals. Something unique that they do at
Duncan is Duncan Scholars-in-Residence. It started last year and impacts a smaller group of
interested students. Basically the Masters at Duncan invite scholar-artists to live with students for
a couple of months in a room at Duncan College and the scholar-artists in return actively engage
with interested students. Baker introduced a short story discussion group to get Bakerites to read
works of fiction and come together to discuss them when they have the time to do so. Hanszen
encourages specific lunch discussion topics through non-intrusive methods by reserving tables
just for those who want to join in on the discussion. Something similar to the old Will
Rice/Lovett Master’s Tea is McMurtry’s BurtTalks where intellectual discussions are hosted at
Burt’s Teahouse, and students engage in dialogue while of course, drinking tea. Overall, we
found out that most colleges develop and organize new events/presentations over the year based
on what students really need and/or what they (the PAAs and Fellows) think will impact Rice
students the most. No matter the type of program that is held, people always show up and even if
there are only a few who are there, there is a consensus that as long as there are those that benefit
from it, then it is successful.
         Through our interviews we have found several factors which contribute to the success of
each college’s intellectual programs. First and foremost, we found the most successful programs
were programs that were the most consistent throughout the year. Programs which were held
regularly quickly became more firmly established, building a more enthusiastic member base.
Those events which occurred irregularly were more rapidly faded out when either leadership or
membership simply lost interest. Furthermore, because many students are concerned with
making a time commitment to non-academic intellectual programming, our interviews revealed
events were more successful when planned around meal times when students had already set
aside a block of time from their daily schedules.

Conclusion: Call to Action

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                       8
November 28, 2011

        Through the course of the interviewing process, one concept that came up in regards to
how intellectual programming can be integrated is Rice’s culture. If intellectual programming is
going to be a part of student life at Rice, it has to become something that students simply take
part in as a matter of course. The problems we have come across during our interviews are
symptoms of the fact that, at this point, intellectual discussions have yet to properly find solid
footing in student life. However, what best practices we have found show that if events are set up
for students to attend, if they are given the appropriate level of visibility at the college level, and
if they are organized to be unobtrusive for student schedules, then a certain level of academic
community outside the classroom can be fostered. A certain subtlety and practicality are also
both valuable qualities in the intellectual programming events that work; events that provide
advice relating to what students can do with their fields of study, or that provide an activity for
students to do together as a framework for discussion seem to be thriving at colleges like
McMurtry and Brown. If events using these principles could be implemented at every college,
then even if they initially only brought in small numbers of students, it is possible that they could
become fixtures of the culture at Rice, which is the sort of implementation that is going to have
to occur for intellectual programming to stop bringing in merely theoretical interest and start to
really bring in students.
        Openness is also something that we feel is an important factor in promoting intellectual
programming, and the residential college system could serve as an obstacle or a boon to it
depending on how we approach it. While it is important that each college implement events on
its own to generate its own thriving intellectual culture, it might be worth considering having
colleges with events that are working open them up on a more campus-wide level, or at least give
them more visibility. This would serve the dual purposes of getting people into the preexisting
events at the colleges holding them, while also potentially inspiring the colleges that are
struggling to get students into their events to see what works and what would be worth
implementing on their end. It may be true that there are eleven residential colleges, but we all
occupy the same campus, and it certainly would be in keeping with the idea of Best Practices if
we took advantage of that fact and more directly built off of each other.


Student Association Intellectual Programming                                                         9
November 28, 2011

Contact Information of Group
Mary Anderson:
Justin Fu:
Travis Hoyt:
Trent Navran:
Eric Pai:
Michael Pan:
Grace Yu:
Melissa Yuan:

Michael Lam:
Emily Robinson:
Mika Tabata:

Joey Spinella:

Contact Information of Related Parties

Baker College
Masters: Ivo-Jan ( and Rose van der Werff (
President: Emmanuel Fuentes (
Head PAAs: Ruchi Srivastava (, Gail Chen (
Head Academic Fellows: Ari Berlin (, Lyahn Hwang

Brown College
Masters: Steve ( and Laura Cox (
President: Joey Spinella (
Head PAAs: Ting Cui (, Glory Nwaugbala (
Fellows: Franziska Luttge (
Academic Committee: Joscelyn Mejias (, Gabi Bello

Academic Committee Campus-wide Coordinators: Joscelyn Mejias and Tatiana (from Martel)

Duncan College
Masters: Luis Duno- Gottberg ( and Marnie Hylton
President: Ruben Sandoval (
Head PAAs: Alex Reis ( Marianne Braun ( and
Christina Coravos (

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                             10
November 28, 2011

Head Academic Fellows: Karen Jung ( and Emily Adkins

Hanszen College
Masters: Rob ( and Ann Griffin (
President: Coco Owens (
Head PAAs: Aditya Kaddu (, Megan Johnson (
Head Academic Fellows: Apoorv Bhargava (, Ray Verm

Jones College
Masters: Michel ( and Melanie Achard (
President: Steven Boswell (
Head PAAs: Mario Gonzalez (, Shannon Kelley (, Jennifer
Livingstone (
Head Fellows: Lilla Pivnick (, Claire Taylor (

Lovett College
Masters: Matteo Pasquali ( and Marie Contou-Carrere (Marie-Nathalie.Contou-
President: Bri Bennett (
Head PAAs: Amy Ewbank (, Annie Hsiao (
Head Academic Fellows: Nivriti Chowdhry (, Jaclyn Dean
(, Joe Pullano (
Academic Committee: Hadley Burroughs (, Jaclyn Dean

Martel College
Masters: Ted Temzelides ( and Beata Loch (
President: Amy Buxbaum (
Head PAAs: Ginny Johnson (
Head Mentors: John Vogelgesang (, Maggie Andersen

McMurtry College
Masters: Dereth Phillips ( and Karim Al-Zand (
President: Gilbert Hernandez (
Head PAAs: Emily Pyle (, Matt Carey (
Head Academic Fellow: Erin Walsh (

Sid Rich College
Masters: Dale Sawyer ( and Elise Sawyer (
President: Mia Velasquez (
Head PAAs: Sachin Allahabadi (, Cristina Barrera (
Head Academic Fellows: Michael Torre (

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                              11
November 28, 2011

Wiess College
Masters: Alexander Byrd ( and Jeanette Byrd (
President: Charlie Dai (
Head PAAs: Rachel Liontas (, Tina Munjal (,
Head Academic Fellows: Bahrom Firozgary (, Nathan Liu
(, Lauren Theis (

Will Rice College
Masters: Bridget Gorman ( and Mike Reed
President: Eddie Reyes (
Head PAAs: Angela Chen (, Nadhika Ramachandran
(, Anand Shah (
Head Academic Fellows: James Carpenter (, Elizabeth Fudge (elizabeth

Helpful Links

List of 2011-2012 Head Fellows:

List of 2011-2012 Head PAAs:

Student Association Intellectual Programming                                               12

To top