Fort Lewis College’s Summer Innovative Months Program has given students opportunities to experience different cultures around the world through five five-week programs led by FLC professors. This year the program has been cancelled.
Prior to this year’s cancellation, Summer Innovative Months Program took place around the world, including different areas of Europe, Central America, South America, Asia and the Caribbean, said Justin McBrayer, associate professor of philosophy.
The Summer Innovative Months are led by different professors from a variety of departments across campus including adventure education, history and philosophy, and any professor on campus can propose to lead their own five-week program, McBrayer said.
Prior to this year, FLC offered education for global citizenship courses that were required for graduation. These courses mirrored the program and offered students the opportunity to learn about the world in different ways by placing high importance on what it means to be a global citizen.
“The overall goal of these courses was to teach FLC students what it’s like to be a global citizen, to go look at the world through the eyes of a different culture, of a different people, of a different place,” McBrayer said. “I think that the Innovative Months were really effective in doing that given my experience.”
McBrayer believes that there is no relation between the cancellation of the Summer Innovative Months and the removal of EGC courses that were once required of all FLC graduates.
“I think that the Innovative Months, this year, were removed for different reasons, and it’s not honestly clear what those reasons are. It was driven largely by our Provost, Barbara Morris,” McBrayer said.
Prior to its cancellation last semester, there were some concerns surrounding the program including the questioning of the program’s academic aspects, McBrayer said.
“There have been some safety concerns in the past with at least some of the trips, students drinking too much and bad things happening, that sort of thing,” he said.
McBrayer said the Provost asked a curriculum committee, made up entirely by faculty, to look into the Innovative Months and ensure that they were safe and academically rigorous. The curriculum committee agreed to follow, and they believed they could do so without cancelling the program.
“They made the collective decision that we don’t need to cancel them. And yet after faculty made their recommendation to keep them, the Provost decided to cut them anyway,” he said.
“I think that issue, an issue of faculty governance and faculty control of the curriculum, is what has upset a number of faculty about this year’s cancellations,” McBrayer said.
Though it is unclear as to exactly why the Summer Innovative Months were cancelled this year, it seems that FLC’s administration was the driving force behind the cancellation.
Associate Professor of history and gender and women’s studies, John Baranski, agrees that the college’s administration is responsible for the program cancellation.
“As more and more programs and faculty get cut by the FLC administration, students will have fewer options to pursue a true liberal arts degree,” Baranski said.