Academic Commons….the history
In his 2009 inaugural address, President Jonathan Veitch called for Occidental to re-imagine the Library as a premier scholastic environment that makes visible our commitments as a 21st –century liberal arts and sciences college. Through that transformation, technologies, resources and services would be combined in new ways to deliver a more seamless, integrated experience for students and faculty. The transformation would be greatly informed by the growing impact of digital technologies and computing networks on learning, creating and teaching. And the existing Clapp Library facility would be renovated as a hub for scholarship and innovation.This forward-looking vision soon became known as The Academic Commons at Occidental College. The first step in realizing the vision was to contract with SBRA as architects for the physical transformations of the building. Their work involved interviews across the campus, assessments of current space and produced a guide to moving forward. Next came a grant from the Mellon Foundation focused on increasing Oxy’s capacity to support innovations in teaching, learning and scholarship in a digital environment for faculty and students, as well as enhancing and integrating the access to and delivery of technology, information resources and academic support for students and faculty. In summer 2010, the first Digital Summer Institute welcomed 10 faculty members to a week of exploration and discovery focused on incorporating technologies into pedagogy and research. Throughout this same time period, organizational development consultants worked with the IR staff to rethink how technology was changing the nature of the work necessary for scholarship and for supporting a liberal arts college in this century. Two important assumptions emerged from this work that now guide IR’s approach to its work and services.
- The practices through which people create, seek and use information will continue to evolve in ways tightly coupled to technology and therefore, teaching, learning, research and other knowledge-intensive practices will continue to change and may change dramatically and exponentially.
- Those same cultural and behavioral changes will affect both academic and non-academic work in higher education, and thus will require significant ongoing changes in services and organization throughout IR starting now.
As part of the campus Integrated Planning process, in Fall 2010 the Academic Commons Task Force (ACTF) was established to guide the initial development of the Academic Commons. On March 25, the ACTF held a Town HAll for the campus to discuss what the Academic Commons could be for the College. Summary information will be available on the Oxypedia site later in March.
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