The Conversatio Program at Saint Anselm College is still fairly new. This is its third year. It was taught as a pilot to a small group of students in 2013-2014 and for the first time to the whole Freshman class last year. It was designed by a committee of faculty as part of the Curriculum revision at the college in 2011-2012. We had a chance to talk with the founders while the process of creation was still relatively fresh in their mind to tell us where the ideas for the program came from and to share their vision for its future. The committee (as they appear from left to right in the videos) included Prof. Kevin Staley, Dean Mark Cronin, Prof. Gary Bouchard, Dean Christine Gustafson, Prof. Derk Wierda, Academic Vice President Bro. Isaac Murphy OSB, and Prof. Ann Norton Holbrook. (Prof. Eric Berry was on sabbatical.)
The conversation was enlightening and lively. The program started with the aim of introducing students to the mission of the college, bringing them into its community, and continuing the tradition of liberal arts education that defined the Humanities program that it replaced. What becomes clear in listening to the designers describe the process is that the enjoyment of interacting with students and colleagues in the new ways that the program makes possible has shaped and energized the program since its inception. In the process of founding the program, it is clear that the founders themselves formed the very type of community the program hopes to instil in its students.
You can listen to the audio of the entire discussion here:
Or you can watch the clips below: