Last week I attended the 2013 annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS). It was great to meet up with old friends, meet new people, and generate new possibilities to try back in our home institutions. Two panels in particular gave me hand cramps from writing a long list of ideas:

Advancing the Career Opportunities of Liberal Arts Graduates: Best practices and strategies for working with multiple constituents to articulate liberal arts skills set and value.” This session will foreground the exigency of and outline possible methods of establishing partnerships with multiple constituents in order to enhance student, faculty, administrative, and community understanding of the skill sets acquired in liberal arts degrees, as well as methods by which liberal arts graduates can showcase those skills and their particular talents. The ultimate goal is to engage participants in a discussion of the exigency and possible methods to enable placement of liberal arts graduates into non-profit and for-profit corporations at better rates and with more ease.

Career Preparedness and the Liberal Arts: On-campus partnerships and initiatives.” Significant pressures have been placed on institutions to demonstrate that their students can compete successfully for jobs upon graduation. Liberal arts colleges are especially prone to negative assessments of their students’  career prospects. This panel focuses on ways that deans can work with their faculty, staff, and other campus stakeholders to develop institutional support and structure to promote career preparedness. The panel will address successful partnership strategies with various campus units to improve the role of professional advising; develop a college-wide career curriculum; collaborate with offices of career services; and incorporate internship, coaching, and shadowing programs.

I outlined a plan to enable students to better understand career pathways while building strong social scientific and liberal arts skills through high impact learning practices in curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities. Today I asked my department chairs to discuss the draft, and we will further develop it in collaboration with an external advisory board of community leaders as well as with other units in the university. Possible practices to include: a mentoring program where recent alumni connect with students in person and online, and an internship program built around students’ existing jobs. I’m looking forward to the discussions!