Each and every SUU student plans a special project that is designed to help them achieve a unique personal or professional goal. They can select from a variety of experiential programs offered by SUU staff and faculty, or they can design a project from scratch. Each project takes longer than a single semester to complete, giving the student a chance to complete a long-term comprehensive project employers are looking for in resumes and portfolios.
An SUU undergraduate degree has three main components: general education, the major, and an EDGE Project. Each element helps our students bind their education to real-world, authentic experiences. General education sets a broad foundation in skills and concepts that supports depth and focus through the major. The EDGE Project helps students refine their "soft skills" and integrate their general education courses with the work done in the major. The end result of this type of education is more than just a transcript. It's personal brand that gives our students and edge over the competition.
We offer three 8-week, one-credit online courses to guide students through the process. The first is UNIV 1010 Becoming an Engaged Learner. In this orientation students learn about the theories behind engaged learning and how the EDGE Program will help them become this kind of learner. They receive a detailed description of the program requirements, sample projects, and are introduced to the campus resources that will help them design, propose, plan, and execute their own project.
After students complete UNIV 1010, they have a period of time where they can talk to professors, parents, and peers to get an idea of a project that will help them achieve their larger goals. This process can take a few semesters, and that's fine. Once students have an idea, they submit a simple declaration that states what they are trying to learn, how they will learn it, and which life goal this project will help them achieve.
At some point (usually the end of sophomore year) we ask the students to commit to an idea and write a proposal. Our sections of UNIV 3925 guide students through the process of pitching an idea, developing and writing a formal proposal. Once that proposal is approved (we don't fail students on this. if it's not right we just tell them not yet) they develop a detailed plan including a timeline with major milestones, a budget, lists of contacts and resources, and a pre-project reflection.
This is where the uniqueness of the program comes into focus. Each student then goes out of the classroom and into the world to complete this project. In most cases the student will be working alone to accomplish this part. They learn how to be self-directed, how to report back to a supervisor, how to keep on track and on budget. They have to make sure the project doesn't drift from the stated objectives. They also document the project so they'll have something to share in a portfolio when they are done.
Reflection is the key component to project-based and experiential learning. When they are done, we use our wrap up course UNIV 4925 to guide them through a verification of their project, an archiving process, the writing of reports in various formats and mediums, to a variety of audiences. They also update and upgrade their professional documents such as cover letters, resumes, portfolios, and even a LinkedIn profile. Ideally the whole thing is done sometime at the start of the senior year, so they are able to use their project in job, graduate school, and internship applications.
Disclaimer: We ask students to learn independently outside of the traditional classroom setting. While SUU makes efforts to offer students safe opportunities, it is not possible to control or anticipate all factors in experiences related to facilities, environments, equipment and individual behaviors that may contribute to each student's emotional, physical and social safety. Please exercise sound judgment and counsel with one of SUU's Engagement Center directors if you would like assistance managing any issues or concerns that may arise.