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Meeting w/ Sarah Theobald 9/11/14

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I took notes but they were a little messy so I went back through and put my questions for her/ thoughts while we were speaking/extra description of the conversation in bold so that it could be distinguished from notes of Sarah’s responses. I started off pretty broadly, asking about the history and development of the 360 Program/ transitions.

-Sarah first person to do what she does

-First cluster was launched 2010

-Originally named Kaleidoscopes

-Brainchild of kim cas. and group of faculty working on curricular renewal- reassessment of requirements… individual students were doing 360 like experiences on their own… but there was no structure for them


This is were we started to get into the varying structures that 360s have taken on… Sarah used the word “shape” to describe structure, which I liked

*360 conceived as having multiple shapes, in other words, multiple and evolving structures:

-originally five courses… had to take 3 of the five... over the course of two semesters

-2 credit single meeting time; taught by two professors

-three courses with an extra independent study… but it was really hard to ask students to give up a whole semester

-always sought to include regular and repeated outside classroom experiences (can you even have this at a prison?)


*Three questions have shaped the continuing development of the 360:

            -How do we structure?

            -How do we include outside experiences?

-How do we reflect back to the community?


What constitutes success in terms of reflecting back to the community?

-Women and walled communities apparently had the most attended final event of all the 360s on record woohoo!!

-Clear group of community members/audience

-Some verbalization of ‘these are the things that we saw as we were studying’ … some academic basis for what it is that is being presented… which the audience is receiving

It’s interesting because here she mentioned how one 360 exhibit garnered funding for the library/included it as a measure of success

-Some sort of lasting record

Then we went on and talked a little bit about Walled Women vs Ecoliteracy…

*Ecoliteracy did not “report” out well (sarah’s word)

*There was no bringing in of what was discussed in class into the final events

*Ecolit didn’t have clear learning goals… vs the Walled Women had more direction

Though I did not have time or find it necessary to contradict her, I did not quite agree with her about Ecolit not succeeding in “reporting out”- and I would argue that Ecoliteracy simply reported out in ways that were not as easily recognizable… for example, our final event/ava’s art installation were both things that could not be recorded as permanently, and permanent/having a record was something Sarah pointed to as an important factor in determining success… however, I believe not having a permanent record was actually a reflection of what our group had learned/ discussed on a consistent basis- things like the impermanence of art/human creation/how we shape our environment and ecosystems… how could we have created a final event that contradicted what we had been learning all semester? However, at this point in the conversation, I did choose to mention that part of the problem with “reporting out” with regard to the Ecoliteracy 360 was that the topics we were encountering were significantly less tangible (i.e. thinking about how we think about things), whereas Walled Women did have a concrete set of topics (Mass Incarceration, Race, Gender)… In the ecolit 360 we were not doing direct environmental work, which feels different from Walled Women and going inside the Prison. Then I brought another issue I felt that I’ve encountered with both 360s in regard to reporting out (and an issue I’ve heard others site in other 360s) which was the very structure that is so crucial to the experience of a 360 and the creation of a close-knit, mini walled community, was also a factor in why it can be so difficult/ sometimes impossible to recreate the learning that happened in a way that outsiders can understand.


I then asked about what kind of structures she thought worked best…


*Mentioned structures that are similar to the China cluster… so to have courses that remain separate while in class/each class really is a separate entity… The bulk of that conversation that happens and brings the three courses together/the intersectional piece happens in a fourth space… making it possible to have other students in class… and making it so that those taking 360 are not isolated into each other

Again, I didn’t mention this, but I was thinking though, just as a counter to this structure, you wouldn’t be able to have the same kind of emotional connections/moments/experiences inside the classroom that happened in Walled Women because we were so isolated and because our classes overlapped so heavily… I did wonder though if I was just being defensive because I loved my 360 experience so much.


*Something unifying about travelling together –Sarah seemed to favor having one long trip to another country or wherever rather then making weekly or biweekly field trips.


What direction do you see 360 taking/possible shapes in the future?

-keep doing what we are doing

-increase our science major participants

            -thinking about ways to do that that aren’t only exclusive to science majors but still fill science requirements

-start repeating (to take all of that work… so that not everything has to be new… not a good use of resources…)

-would like to see more departments involved

-more buy in from the other people responsible for advising students such as deans….


Why do you think some faculty is hesitant to participate/get behind 360s?

-some of it is a knowledge problem…. Lot of faculty politics…. Some people don’t want to work together

-some of it is that sarah has to be in the right place at the right time and someone randomly decides to come up to her…. And connecting the right people with each other to make a 360 work…

-there are also faculty who just don’t want to teach this way

-some of them don’t want to get involved because they don’t want to talk to other people… / don’t want to give up their control of their classroom


I would have kept talking to Sarah but we went all the way up until 2:20, which was right before Jody’s course, so I had to leave, but I am planning to email her later with some extra thoughts, which she said she’d be happy to respond to/meet with me another time. It was very interesting because she made me think of some important structural components of the 360 that really couldn’t fit into a prison as they are at Bryn Mawr, like the outside class experiences. So I have a lot to figure out in terms of structure, and how I could recreate the experience of a 360 without actually being able to completely replicate the structure.