Students Engage in Real-World Issues With New Queens College Program

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For decades, students have passed by the words “We Learn So That We May Serve,” written on a pillar on the corner of Kissena Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway. Many know that the phrase’s Latin translation– “Discimus ut Serviamus” — is Queens College’s slogan and the philosophy that the college keeps in mind as new opportunities surface. It is this philosophy that informs Queens College’s new educational program, designed to help students engage in real-world issues via partnerships with organizations within the greater New York City area. How will they do this? With new and exclusive courses.

Special Advisor to President Bill Keller spoke on the administration’s behalf, with quotes provided by Maria Matteo, Associate Director of Media and College Relations for QC. Keller described the process of starting the new college program. During the Spring 2021 semester, Keller and Provost Betsy Hendrey devised a new method by which faculty members would submit course proposals. These courses would take advantage of Course Development Grants funded by the Queens College Foundation. Of the sixteen proposals submitted, seven were selected to receive funding. Additional funding from the Queens College Foundation has created the opportunity for another Request For Proposals. Received by select faculty, these new We Learn So That We May Serve courses will be offered in the upcoming academic year. 

Keller said that the program’s idea was to link student learning to the real world so students can help create solutions to complex societal issues. Keller inspired their efforts by introducing Wu and Hendrey to Academically Based Community Service courses created by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships with the help of faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Queens College’s goal to offer classes that engage students with real-world issues is not new. During a political science course taught by Professor Keena Lipitz, students had the opportunity to interview New York City voters to give feedback to the New York City Board of Elections. Taruna Sadhoo and Keesha Cameron’s course “The World of Work” discussed civil engagement by giving students the opportunity to work with local New York City agencies and organizations. “Five other new courses will be offered as well during this school year. Additional new courses are planned for the 2022-23 academic year,” Matteo said. 

When the program was first started, the COVID pandemic created challenges with courses occurring on platforms like Zoom, rather than in-person. However, with more in-person classes and increased access to organizations and agencies in the greater New York City area, the administration hopes that students will have a wider range of hands-on opportunities available within the We Learn So That We May Serve Program. “We strongly encourage students to explore these opportunities. A website with more information is coming soon,” Keller stated.

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