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Emerging Themes

Explore some of the ideas related to the themes of Future of Knowledge, Work and Service:

Future of Knowledge
Cultivate Deep Connections

"The thing that separates W&M from other universities is the close relationship between students and faculty. This is possible because of the small classes and the wealth of opportunities W&M undergraduates have to conduct research along with their professors."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"As an undergrad, the most important experiences revolve around brilliant faculty who want to engage with us. This is often facilitated by small class size."
~ Undergraduate Student, Listening Forum

"I found relationships with professors most meaningful. Office hours where I could go discuss a paper or topic and receive insight and guidance and then continue to have that professor mentor me and teach me in years to come – so priceless. I valued the personal connections I made with faculty at W&M."
~ Alumna/us, Instagram


"W&M needs to ensure that it supports student and faculty research that is problem-driven. Too much research at universities today is siloed into specific disciplines. Public universities need to do research that addresses real-world problems and that requires that researchers work across disciplines. Future knowledge breakthroughs will require multidisciplinary thinking."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"Science is becoming increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary, so students need support finding opportunities to practice those skills. Community-based research is interdisciplinary by nature and requires strong collaboration skills."
~ Staff, Online

Explore New Toolkits

"In the classes I have taken where there is a balance between lecture and discussion, I have felt as if I have gotten a lot more out of the class. I believe students will continue to learn through discussion and technology. I also think that improvement in technology should be valued in all majors."
~ Student, Online

"Hybrid teaching can/should include engaged learning. In fact, the experiential aspect is very feasible, if not easier. Students learn in community where they are individually, and bring their ideas to online discussions. This is NOT contrary to liberal arts learning. Learning can be just as intimate with hybrid learning."
~ Faculty/Staff, Listening Forum

Integrate Learning Experiences

"I would like to see the College re-embrace the co-creation of knowledge, where students, faculty, and staff are all equal parts of a larger (un)learning process, rooted in dialogue, self-reflection, and critical pedagogy."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"Knowledge is much more integrated now than ever before, due in part to technology. Students need to be skilled at integration of learning across contexts to be successful."
~ Faculty, Twitter

"As an advisor for a community engagement student organization, I have been amazed by the learning opportunities students have created for themselves by putting themselves in community – the Williamsburg community, the community of volunteers in their organization, and the specific community of the school that they volunteer in. They are challenged to organize, communicate, problem-solve, and build empathy across differences."
~ Staff/Faculty, Listening Forum

"I teach a 15-person interdisciplinary class every spring. I have all students do projects of their choice over the semester. This can relate to their undergrad research or interest area. I find my class (and the projects) help students think about their specialties in new, deeper ways. For this class to work, it's important that the class size is small enough to do projects with lots of feedback from me and that we aren't under a time crunch to cover specific required content."
~ Faculty, Listening Forum

Future of Work
Prepare for Complexity

"Critical thinking and writing skills remain essential… As someone working in public policy, I am floored by the lack of writing and analytical skills by some of the people I have encountered professionally. A strong background in the liberal arts, especially the humanities, remains as essential as ever, regardless of a person's final career path. Continuing education is also vital throughout a person's lifetime."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"The workplace seems to be changing at an ever increasing rate. I am firmly convinced that the best preparation we can provide our students is a liberal arts education that is current and deep. Current students will need to be able to adapt to future changes – that requires flexibility of mind and the ability to continue to learn new skills. Critical thinking skills will be crucial here."
~ Alumna/us, Online

Learn All Your Life

"W&M has a responsibility to teach critical reading, writing and thinking skills to all students. Beyond that we owe students deeper/in-depth knowledge…In addition, some certificates or special skilled experiences would add to their education. A liberal arts education teaches critical thinking, reasoning, exposure to new ideas. Career fields will change rapidly. Better to learn how to remain flexible, enjoy learning. Teach them how to think creatively, problem-solve, and understand how to communicate and plan strategically."
~ Commenter, Listening Forum

"Inspire, prepare, and motivate students with the critical thinking skills they need for lifelong learning and development. Focus on the holistic development of the student."
~ Commenter, Listening Forum

Analyze Data – Creation Through Interpretation

"Coding and statistical analysis! I graduated W&M one year ago and am having to apply these skills and have had no previous exposure. Characteristics – relationship building and teamwork! Especially needs to be incorporated into non-business school programs, the real world is all about working in teams."
~ Alumna/us, Instagram

"I feel W&M has a bit of catching up to do with focusing our efforts on preparing students for the modern world. I know there are paths for students to work towards careers in data science and engineering, but I'm of the belief they should be more streamlined. These are highly sought after professions, and prospective students could be turned off by the lack of options for these disciplines at W&M."
~ Student, Instagram

Sophisticated Bridging of Difference

"An empathetic and critical disposition will be crucial for students as they enter into a workplace that will require dynamic and fluid skill sets. Metacognitive skills and reflexivity will be paramount to effectively collaborating with diverse people and knowledge construction."
~ Alumna/us, Twitter

"Hire more diverse staff so that students may see themselves in the faces around them. Teach/train/encourage discussion around difference so that we can explore unknown frameworks and listen/know each other more clearly."
~ Commenter, Listening Forum

"I would like to see the College prioritize the hiring of faculty and staff of color and/or those from international backgrounds. In our ever-so-rapidly globalizing economy, it is vital for William & Mary students and alumni to decolonialize our understandings of every discipline and career path. Let us move beyond bureaucratic multiculturalism and recommit to building an inclusive, supportive environment that deserves the diversity of incoming students, faculty, and staff."
~ Alumna/us, Online

Communicate Exceptionally Well – Across Mediums

"As a senior corporate leader, the skill gap I encounter most frequently is problem-solving ability. There is a tendency to leap to tactics instead of spending time on problem identification. W&M's rigorous curriculum encouraged me to be intellectually curious and its emphasis on writing helped build my capacity to think logically, both of which are critical to problem solving. I'd like to think this tradition will continue at W&M in future leaders who are equal to the huge challenges ahead."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"Basic data analysis. Be able to use a dataset in Excel and produce knowledge from numbers. And writing. Good writing tells me about the level of mental discipline a person has, the extent to which they can organize ideas, and their ability to persuade others."
~ Alumna/us, Instagram

Future of Service
Change the World for the Better

"W&M should be a place that produces leaders who have the desire and influence to change the world for the better. We already have a strong tradition of deeply engaged students and alumni. We need to extend our emphasis to growing the next crew of leaders who can effect positive change through a variety of means and roles: internships, mentorships, opportunities for alumni to help students achieve success in business, law, government and industry will be key to that effort."
~ Group Response, Listening Forum

"As a public servant now and alum who took Sandra Day O'Connor seriously at our graduation when she said a career in public service would make her proud, I will say this: Teach the students to focus on their immediate community – consider helping at the preschool in Norge rather than just going on an international service trip. And please resist the politicization of public service. W&M students should proudly become Republican and Democratic candidates, prosecutors and public defenders, service-minded bankers and non-profit founders, alike."
~ Alumna/us, Instagram

Engage Stakeholders

"The Tribe serves nearly 4,000 alumni, parents and friends who volunteer to help W&M. Examples include: Alumni giving hundreds of hours mentoring and coaching our students, Literacy for Life through the School of Education, Margot Howard’s tax preparation program for the elderly in Williamsburg, and Military Mondays at the Puller Clinic for veterans initiatives."
~ Group Response, Listening Forum

"I believe that it is an inherent responsibility for alumni to pledge both physical and human resources to advance the next generation of leaders. It has become more challenging for graduates to find employment in their respective fields and often the information for a career match to major is confusing. I would recommend creating a network of alumni career professionals to coach, mentor and counsel any graduate seeking information for their career choice. Perhaps an Alumni Resource Center?"
~ Alumna/us, Online

Integrate Learning

"W&M needs to articulate a real commitment to being part of Williamsburg as a place and as our home, making our programs, events, and resources (including academic, labor, and student energy) more accessible to the public and targeting our research, service, and engaged learning toward community-driven goals. We should think creatively along with community members and leaders about what we can contribute."
~ Staff, Online

"Increased community engagement opportunities along with a formal education can allow the application of ideas to the people of W&M. Working with partners in the Williamsburg region works as a testing ground for ideas and innovative cooperative research for students before they graduate and move forward."
~ Student, Instagram

Grow Partnerships

"I am so glad the focus is on service. It's among the best parts of W&M. For the past twenty years I've observed a deeper commitment. There needs to be more focus on funding and support for faculty. Office of Community Engagement does so much. More resources for their work, commitment to community partnering, new ways of teaching and learning by involving local service leaders, and commitment from the highest levels of W&M – president and deans – is needed."
~ Faculty, Online

"Faculty's service (what they do outside of their job description) becomes embedded within their roles. So that their service is not only expected as a faculty member but also encouraged and recognized. Faculty members should model the active citizenship life for students. Create conversations/courses that are aimed at 'cross-training' students to give them opportunities to learn across disciplines, so that students leave W&M as future leaders with knowledge in multiple fields across disciplines."
~ Group Response, Listening Forum

Cultivate Resilience

"Being a student at W&M was hard for me. I studied hard, had tutors and was consistently challenged. Professors were always willing to help me, but they never would settle for anything less than what they expected. They pushed me to be better. To this day my parents tell me that W&M impacted me more than they ever expected. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, yet supported through the process. This is instrumental to future success and continuing the brand."
~ Alumna/us, Online

"Can we develop graduates who run towards challenge rather than retreat away? Challenge people, circumstances, and ideas that divide. Show role models and examples of individuals who had resilience, grit, and confidence to take on challenge (or see opportunity). Encourage students to intentionally integrate curricular, co-curricular experience with a passion to collect "tool kits" and "perspectives" that will aid them in being ready and prepared to take a challenge."
~ Group Response, Listening Forum

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