Sunday, May 17, 2009

Update on Mason's QEP

For those that have been following this, the votes are in and the Mason community has announced its plans for its Quality Enhancement Plan:

George Mason University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) will help Mason foster a culture of scholarship and creativity among students and faculty by engaging departments across the institution in disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and co-curricular inquiry, exploration, and activity. This culture of scholarship and creativity shall include opportunities for students and faculty to explore global issues, to author original research projects and creative works, and to apply imaginative thinking to today’s pressing questions and social concerns. The QEP Planning Committee believes there is considerable energy throughout the university for the ideas embedded in this vision, along with a number of opportunities to develop and build on existing programs and activities.

Engaging students with faculty in a culture of scholarship and creative activity will enhance Mason’s competitive position among the most prestigious research universities in the country; will foster innovative breakthroughs and initiatives that further disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding; and will be a catalyst for creating leaders with the knowledge, experience, and competencies needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

During the next year and a half, a QEP Planning Committee will be developing a plan for implementation to make this vision a reality. We sincerely appreciate the input and involvement of the more than two thousand students, faculty, and university administrators who shaped our thinking during the past year by participating in community forums, departmental and college-based discussions, the QEP Café, and the recently concluded on-line survey. The resulting QEP project represents a collaborative synthesis of ideas from many sectors of the university.

For more about this initiative see the Executive Summary (pdf). Here is a short excerpt:
To develop leaders who can address the complex challenges of the 21st century, Mason students must develop critical skills in acquiring, analyzing, evaluating, integrating and applying knowledge to generate and develop new ideas and tools. This QEP proposal focuses on creating and nurturing a culture of scholarship, creativity, and research that stretches beyond disciplinary boundaries and permeates Mason. Mason has a strong emphasis on faculty-driven research and creative activity, but a culture of student scholarship remains to be created across the university. In this context, student scholarship is taken to mean research and creative activities that require active student participation to generate new knowledge or create new works. Examples of such activities might include creative discovery and expression in one’s discipline, one-on-one research with a faculty member, or group projects where students work with faculty and community members to address local problems or bring arts and sciences to a wider audience. The goal of this initiative is to create a pervasive culture of student scholarship, beginning in the first year and continuing through graduation. This will make it evident to all members of the Mason community that students are actively engaged in scholarship and will invigorate and excite faculty and students, leading to deeper engagement in research and creative activity institution-wide.
Here is a longer white paper. While we were hopeful the social entrepreneurship proposal would be adopted, the results should not be seen as a setback for social entrepreneurship at GMU. Professors Auerswald and Rogers and the rest of the motivated students and faculty have already made great strides at promoting a relatively new field through their involvement with the Ashoka Changemakers Program and other initiatives. The faculty, but especially the students, deserve credit for showing how far an idea can progress and, especially, how quickly progress can be made. A few years ago Social Entrepreneurship was not on the university's radar, now it is one of its major selling points. For the students, I hope they see how close they came to getting their proposal adopted.

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