The Center for Resources in General Education was established at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez to provide a new perspective in general and STEM education. CIVIS, which means “citizen” in Latin, brings together faculty from Business Administration, Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Engineering in order to develop interdisciplinary activities that furthers UPRM’s mission of shaping productive and committed citizens. The Center challenges the traditional classification of “technical skills” and “softskills”, substituting it by an emphasis on the development of the professional and global skills described in UPRM’s student learning outcomes. CIVIS has two main activities:
1) Paths for Student Success
Bilingual Writing Center
Pre-College Outreach in Sciences
Student Learning Modules
2) Sustainable Context
Sustainable Energy Initiative
Sustainable and Tropical Agriculture
CIVIS combines and expands existing efforts at each UPRM college by coordinating individual efforts under the overarching General and STEM Education philosophy, thus providing students and professors with tools and strategies that help them attain the institutional learning outcomes. A key strategy of CIVIS is to present students a more holistic perspective of their education to students through communication skills, interdisciplinary work, and team teaching with a strong emphasis being placed on presenting a more integrated curriculum.
CIVIS is the result of years of successful individual efforts in K-12 outreach, writing projects, instructional modules and STEM education at UPRM. CIVIS represents an umbrella to better coordinate, not control these efforts, providing resources for the expansion of the scope and depth of these efforts, and benefitting not just a limited number of students, but the whole student body at UPRM. The initial focus of CIVIS is on providing these opportunities to STEM students, as a way to broaden their understanding of the context and impact of their professions, and also as a way to encourage retention in STEM fields, by providing connections among the various parts of their curriculum. This will also benefit professors by providing them more tools to better achieve their courses objectives and the Institutional general education mission.
CIVIS is initially funded by a 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The institutionalization of this initiative beyond this grant will be the responsibility of UPRM’s Office of Academic Affairs. This will occur through Liaison Faculty from each of UPRM’s Colleges who will act as CIVIS personnel, maintaining links to other colleges and continue supporting the new perspective of liberal education at UPRM through integrated and interdisciplinary General and STEM education activities.
Funded by the US Department of Education (80%), University of Puerto Rico (15%) and UPR-Mayaguez (5%)