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Faculty Focus: “‘Happiness’ is Teaching across Disciplines”
06.28.13 |
LVC’s emphasis on multidisciplinary study extends well beyond the classroom, with events designed to get students, faculty, and staff to reach beyond their departments in discussion of a broad-reaching topic.

In the spirit of these interdisciplinary studies, each year LVC faculty offer courses in collaboration with the annual Colloquium theme. Each fall, several First-Year Seminars are dedicated to the theme, and at least one Disciplinary Perspectives course connects to the Colloquium theme each spring.

In spring 2013, Dr. Michael Kitchens, assistant professor of psychology, taught “HAPPINESS,” a Disciplinary Perspectives course relating to the annual Colloquium topic. A broad variety of majors were represented in this capstone course for juniors and seniors, including early childhood education, business, English, art & art history, psychology, history, and mathematical sciences. “We thought about happiness in a number of different ways,” Kitchens said. “We looked at religious or spiritual aspects, money and economics in relationship to happiness, sociological and cultural aspects of happiness, and of course the psychological angle.”

Kitchens noted that this kind of multidisciplinary examination of a topic is central to a liberal arts education. “What really marks an educated person is that he or she can converse intelligently across a number of different disciplines,” he said. “At LVC we try to get students to touch base with many different areas.”

It’s good for faculty too, Kitchens noted. “Everybody can be in their own departments talking about their own topics, but we can all draw on this common Colloquium theme from different perspectives so we’re not working in these kinds of silos,” he said. “I think that can be difficult for faculty to do, because we know what we know and that’s what we like to think about, but events such as the Colloquium can draw people out and help us work across disciplines.”

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