Innovative New Visions Effort Creates 25 New Programs on CUNY Campuses

In its third and final year, the New Visions Program of The City University of New York has given birth to 25 new undergraduate programs across disciplines and across campuses. The innovative effort, led by CUNY faculty and funded by a three-year, $225,000 grant from the Aaron Diamond Foundation, is shaping the University’s educational future. At a time of great fiscal restraint, faculty members are collaborating successfully to devise creative ways to shape interdisciplinary undergraduate programs.

More than 110 proposals from faculty at CUNY’s 17 senior and community colleges have been submitted for programs, of which 27 have been funded by the grant–for example, a concentration in Science, Technology and Society at Borough of Manhattan Community College; an Environmental Studies major at Brooklyn College; a Women’s Studies major at Kingsborough Community College; and a Neighborhood Studies Program at Queens College, focused on developing health care for immigrant populations. After grant funding for the accepted programs expires, colleges include the new programs, which involve two or more disciplines, in their institutional academic planning.

“CUNY faculty have been creative and resourceful in devising programs that promote collaborative relationships across disciplines and campuses,” said Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds. “The New Visions program is a stellar example of faculty working to inspire one another to explore new academic domains.”

Professor Stanley Aronowitz, Chair of the New Visions Faculty Committee and Professor of Sociology at CUNY’s Graduate School and University Center, said, “This program does not deny the disciplines, but makes them more contemporary, exciting, relevant and cutting-edge, while maintaining rigor and intellectual content.”

The New Visions program, which is driven by the rapidly changing character of knowledge, both in and out of the workplace, and by current and anticipated changes in New York City’s cultural and socioeconomic structures, operates under the aegis of CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs and is overseen by Acting Vice Chancellor Anne L. Martin and University Dean Elsa Nunez.

The following are examples of programs that have been developed with New Visions grants:

Brooklyn College, Children’s Studies Program
This program, the first of its kind in the country, has established a minor in the subject area and will serve as a model for other CUNY campuses and colleges and universities nationwide wanting to establish similar programs.

City College, “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Basic Science”
A three-semester sequence for non-science majors, the courses use innovative experiments to allow hands-on experience in learning through observation, with the goal of developing scientifically literate citizens.

Hunter College, “Community Organization and Development Program”
This program will be developed as a minor in several social science departments. As well, its team collaborated with parallel projects at LaGuardia and Kingsborough Community Colleges and the three institutions are articulating courses.

Hostos Community College, “ESL-Math Collaboration Towards Building Up the Family Model at Hostos”
The aim is to intensify and enrich students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and to speed up their English language acquisition process in a learning community environment.

John Jay College, Gender Studies Minor
Profs. Jane Bowers and Ellen Marson are developing an ongoing community outreach effort that will inform the curriculum; a Web site for resources in gender studies CUNY-wide; a capstone course; student internships; and faculty development seminars.