After last week's SACHAT, I thought I'd share some campus collaboration ideas I've assembled over the past couple of years. It’s perhaps the most common missed opportunity on any college campus. While campus entertainment can be fun, it can also be culturally enriching, or have an educational slant. But even more important, programs can serve to reach across campus and bring students, faculty, and staff together.
Some connections between programming and academics are easily apparent. When you bring in lecturers and other speakers, their primary purpose is to educate. Speakers from environmental and human rights groups aren’t there for fun– they’re there to teach your students about the world.
But there are other, not so obvious co-curricular uses for your programs. Reach out to the faculty on your campus. There are professors you already know who are supportive of student activities. Meet with them and discuss how student activities can be supportive of their teaching, too.
Some departments will have an distinct connection. The music department on your campus produces graduates with great musical skills. Perhaps the students (and faculty) could benefit from a master class presented by a performer you are bringing to campus. Maybe the performer could speak to music majors
about the “real world” of the music business, and help them to create a career plan to follow after graduation.
The comedians that you bring to campus also have relevant skills and experiences to share. They have appeared on stages all over the country, and they may have been featured in films and on television. Wouldn’t the students in your theater or drama department love to talk with a real live successful
comedy star? See if you can’t set up a question and answer session with theater majors. What valuable lessons your students could learn about life in New York City or LA!
The human mind is an amazing thing, and your campus probably has a number of psychology majors trying to understand it. Wouldn’t they learn from interacting with the hypnotist or mentalist you’ve booked on your campus?
Most humanities classes have a requirement for students to attend a number of cultural events during the term, such as a concert, a play, an art gallery, etc. Your humanities faculty could certainly select a number of programs from your upcoming semester’s events for students to attend. Just imagine thirty or forty (or more) students boosting your audience when an entire humanities class shows up.
Another very obvious connection is with spoken word performers. Poets practically live for poetry, and would leap at the chance to speak to an English class. That might jump-start a freshman’s appreciation for poetry, and produce a future Billy Collins or Sylvia Plath.
The mass communications department on your campus may have a class in the history of the cinema. By co-sponsoring with them, you could present a film series of classic motion pictures that would serve the entire student body in addition to the film classes. Everyone should have a chance to see Citizen Kane or The African Queen, not just film majors.
This isn't as easy as it looks. I know you've experienced resistance (and resentment) towards your programs by faculty. But try putting the past behind you, and reach out to your faculty again. To quote Rick in Casablanca, it might be "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."