The latest innovation with the Integrations Curriculum at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University seems to have been a resounding success when it comes to helping new students make a successful transition to the schools.
INTG 105, a one-credit course for College Success, aims to foster a sense of belonging, promote engagement in the curricular and co-curricular life, articulate expectations of students, and help students continue to clarify their intentions and direction. During the week of Sept. 18-22, students in the class got to choose one or more options from among more than 10 possibilities to encourage experiential learning and dive deeper into the culture on both campuses.
The first event was an SJU Land History Chapel Hike, a guided walk with Outdoor U to the Stella Marias Chapel to learn about the history of the land and other outdoor resources available to students. A similar event was held Sept. 18 at CSB with a guided walk through the Sisters’ Woods.
On Sept. 18 (and again Sept. 21), students learned more about the history of athletics at Saint John’s. They toured facilities to see how athletics contributes to a sense of place at SJU. A similar tour was held Sept. 20 at Saint Ben’s. Also on Sept. 18 (and Sept. 20-21), there was an SJU Evening Prayer and Abbey Church Tour. Students attended prayer with the monks and visited with Br. Paul Niebauer to learn about the church’s rich history.
On Sept. 19, one group of students learned about Fine Arts and Theater at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, including a tour of the Benedicta Arts Center, and another joined the Sisters at St. Benedict’s Monastery for a historical tour of their grounds and evening Mass at the Sacred Heart Chapel. A similar tour also was held Sept. 20 at the monastery.
“As someone who goes to church frequently, I feel like it made me feel more connected to the church – a church that will be my home for the next few years,” said Kate Stadum, a first-year student from Brainerd, Minnesota, who is majoring in biology and chemistry.
Also on Sept. 20, students could choose a SJU Land History Boardwalk Loop Tour through the Abbey Arboretum.
On Sept. 21, students toured the Saint John’s Pottery Studio. Anabella Witschen, a first-year student from Monticello, Minnesota, was moved to say “It's amazing to see how the school we attend has such an impact on the world we live in.” And Valerie Partida, a first-year psychology major from Skokie, Illinois, got to examine clay pieces up close and enjoyed an opportunity to socialize with other attendees.
“The tea time afterwards was delightful, and knowing that there's a piece of the earth, of the CSB and SJU community, in my hands made me feel more connected,” Partida said.
Additionally, students were able to further explore their own self-directed activity options.
“These events have been intentionally designed to help students connect to and deepen their sense of place at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s,” said Karyl Daughters, dean of curriculum and assessment. “The events all make clear connections between our Benedictine heritage, place, and life on campus. This programming was included in the College Success course for the first time last year and with the success of the week we were excited to include it again this year. We absolutely intend to keep including it in the future.”
Robert Campbell, a math professor and the INTG 105 course director, said the intention was to link students with campus identity.
“These events were meant to provide students with an opportunity to forge connections with the extraordinary spaces on our campuses, a central element of what makes Saint Ben's and Saint John's special,” he said. “These new connections hopefully will then strengthen their sense of belonging and help them envision their future here on campus. The first semester in college comes with unique challenges as students are transitioning to a new environment with new expectations. Student success and sense of belonging go hand in hand and the College Success course is one of many elements of support for our new students.”
A large group of students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University participated Sept. 18 in a guided walk through Sisters Woods.