UBC MIX Program! (Sounds like a dating service, but not really)

Just a little heads up that the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund has kindly green lighted funding for Geoff’s TEDxTt2008 Wish. Which, in case, you don’t recall, was all about figuring out how to get students of different disciplines to interact more in their classes.

In grant speak, this means that:

“UBC MIX aims to create lightweight and flexible partnerships between courses that allow students from different disciplines to interact on an academic level. Trek 2010 “recognizes interdisciplinarity as an important principle in academic planning.” UBC operates a wide variety of excellent joint degree and interdisciplinary degree programs. However, joint and interdisciplinary programs require a significant amount of commitment from both the students enrolled in these programs and the faculty members coordinating them. UBC MIX is an attempt to deliver interdisciplinary education on a much more accessible and less resource-intensive basis – i.e., between two courses already in existence. There are many opportunities to develop this kind of collaboration between courses at UBC. For example, the first UBC MIX pilot partnership brings together HIST 104 and Science One Biology and includes student interactions across the Faculties of Arts & Sciences around joint curricula exploring the ecology of BC’s First Nations peoples. With the UBC MIX project, our main objective is to facilitate and support additional course partnerships to provide a broader range of opportunities for interdisciplinary student learning at UBC.”

This is cool because I think the idea of mixing classes is very interesting, and certainly worth a go. Plus, as someone who has gone through the very formal mechanisms of getting course approval, it’s freaking brilliant to do this MIXING in informal ways (i.e. ways that are small enough so that they don’t require a faculty curriculum committee – examples include things like joint assignments or fieldtrips).

As an aside, this news is also cool because it’s technically our first wish via the TEDxTerrytalks process, as well as having the distinction of what might be considered a “TEDx related Wish” as well. This goes to show that programs like this, in principle, can be effective in mobilizing initiatives at least at the smaller scale.

Woo hoo… Anyway, just had to share.

First step? Who are the great professors and instructors on campus who would totally dig this. Suggestions in the comments section please…

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and boingboing.net. He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at popperfont.net.

7 Responses to “UBC MIX Program! (Sounds like a dating service, but not really)”

  1. Cathy


    I’m one of the Science One students that was part of this year’s MIX project. I thought it was an interesting component of our normal biology class that exposed us to the complexities of dealing with biological issues in the real world.

    I feel that this project could be improved by placing more emphasis on communication of ideas through discussion and debate (ie: is it possible for animals of different species to truly understand one another) rather than projects (ie: the tree project).

    Thanks once again for this inicitive, I would highly recommend this for other classes as well.

  2. Tiffany

    Duffy Roberts comes to mind… English prof. We did section on Oryx and Crake (by Atwood) and he brought in his mom to talk about GMOs. I think lots of professors would like that. Hmmm… I’m taking Brian Job’s intrastate conflict class, and I’m sure something (optional?) on the side, like cognitive sciences, weapons engineering, stats or science of opium/drugs would be interesting…

  3. Sarah

    Dr. Marc Horwitz in Virology (MICB 306) always talks about how viruses changed the course of history, and likes to relate health politics to the virology. I’m sure he would do something sweet with the program.

  4. Tiffany #2

    I think this is an awesome program, I wish it was in place when I was in Science One!

    I think my faculty, Land and Food Systems, in general would have quite a few professors willing to collaborate.

    From what I’ve taken, FRE 302 (small business management in agri-business), GEOG 410 (environment and society), GRS 290, 390, 490 (core course of the global resource systems program), SOCI 433A (intro to global citizenship), and maybe the LFS core series (250, 350, 450).

    And from what I’ve heard, Development and Technology in the engineering department would be a great choice too.

  5. Geoff Costeloe

    Cathy (and everyone),
    Thanks for the encouraging words. I can tell you that Carla, Celeste and I learned a lot from the feedback forms you guys filled out on the last day of the partnership. We are looking at how we can tweak the course to centre more around personal interactions (i.e. fewer e-mails and more in class group discussion). It was only the first year of the project and we are excited for next year.

    Everyone should stay tuned as we are going to be looking to hire an official UBC MIX position to help run and promote the program next year (as I’m graduating).

    Thanks again!

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