SEE-Beyond offers intensive summer learning opportunities
July 30, 2012
Sara Low ’13, second from right, used her SEE-Beyond grant to expand her grasp of archaeological techniques at the Taos Collaborative Archaeology Program in New Mexico. She is pictured here with fellow program participants (from left) Naomi Wasserman, Elisha Helgen, and Ben Garvey. (Photo by Emily Dietrich)
Italy. China. India. Guatemala. Nicaragua.
Destinations for an exotic summer vacation? Not exactly. These are just some of the locations where Skidmore College students are based this summer, working and learning, as inaugural participants in Skidmore’s new SEE-Beyond program.
Launched with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program is officially called “Summer Educational Experiences—Learning Beyond Campus” and offers a modern take on one of Skidmore’s founding tenets: education that combines “the mind and hand.” A total of 21 students (sophomores through seniors) who completed a competitive application process received $4,000 grants to support a wide array of summer learning opportunities. The program allows students to apply academic-year theory to real-world practice and clarify the connection between their educational and post-college goals.
The hope is that knowledge gained during the summer will be useful when students return to the classroom, perhaps by helping them refine academic goals, or build a foundation to begin more advanced work in their major. Corey Freeman-Gallant, associate dean of the faculty, noted another advantage of the program: “Putting students in a ‘real-world’ experience enables them to strengthen the very skills that make the liberal arts so important: they’re communicating and collaborating, they’re thinking analytically, independently, and creatively, and they’re learning to lead.”
There are other advantages to the program as well, he said. “It closes part of the gap” in helping students who have high financial need, and must work during the summer to meet their goals for financing their educations. The SEE-Beyond stipends are large enough to allow students to enhance their profiles without ignoring their college savings accounts.
David Schlenker ’13 – who used his SEE-Beyond grant to join Project Why in New Delhi, India -- is teaching English and photography to 50 underprivileged students.
In addition, the SEE-Beyond program directly relates to the College’s Goals for Student
Learning and Development by encouraging learning experiences that emphasize active
Freeman-Gallant explained that the field is wide open for students seeking a SEE-Beyond award. “The program allows students to identify a summer experience that builds directly on learning goals for their major or minor. What this could mean varies by program and by student. There is no limit to the type of experience the student might propose, and such experiences could be identified as research, internship, apprenticeship, coursework, or something else,” he said.
Here are some academic disciplines and summer experiences supported by SEE-Beyond
- International Affairs—a teaching internship with Project Why in New Delhi, India
- Asian Studies—an entrepreneurial internship with a textile and clothing supplier in Yunnan Province, China
- Government—working as a research assistant on a project analyzing the European Union financial crisis (with the Director of the European Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University) in Elba, Italy
- Anthropology—archaeology field school in New Mexico
- Self-Determined Major in Public Health— health education and community research with the International Center for AIDS Care Programs in Swaziland
- Dance—summer dance intensives with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance
- Art History & Arts Administration— curatorial internships at the Olana State Historic Site and Bureau of Historic Sites, Peebles Island Resource Center, New York
- Latin American Studies—Micro-lending internship with People Helping People Global in Nicaragua
Grace Troxell ’13 is using part of her SEE-Beyond grant to fund an internship with the New York-based FiveMyles Gallery, where she is helping the Dream Music Puppetry Program develop a new production.
Students completed a brief application to academic departments and programs that included a personal essay describing their anticipated summer experience. Departments then selected nominees to put forward into a college-wide competition. The proposals were so strong that additional College funds were tapped in order to fund every applicant emerging from departmental review.
The diversity and global reach of the summer experiences is, in fact, astounding.
By expanding funded opportunities beyond internships to include support for collaborative
research, artistic apprenticeships and workshops, and other forms of engagement, Freeman-Gallant
says that SEE-Beyond attracted applicants from all academic areas. “The stipend,
too, encouraged them to think big…to craft an experience uniquely tailored to their
educational goals,” he explains.
Mellon Foundation support for SEE-Beyond will fund the program during 2013 and the College is working toward securing funding to continue the program after that.