Monthly Archives: January 2012

Student Voices from the Urban Cross-cultural College Consortium

The Urban Cross-cultural College Consortium (U4C) is an innovative urban studies degree program which brings together students from Concordia University, Crown College and Northwestern College. It’s unique in that is teaches the city from a holistic, missional perspective and is the only program offered by Christian colleges in the US that is based on an entire year resident in the city. It’s focused specifically on the complex, multi-cultural, immigrant-rich global cities.  Students from all three institutions live together in South Minneapolis, take classes relevant to their urban studies interests and complete intensive internships with nonprofit organizations in the community.  Faculty members see the program as a great way to equip students to work in the ‘ever increasing multi-cultural and multi-ethnic world.”

Sarah Koscielniak, Concordia University – St Paul, ‘12

The experience is very interdisciplinary and the topics not only bleed into other classes but also into the students’ personal lives.  I would learn something in the classroom, then walk out of the classroom and see a way to apply what I just learned! The experience of living with students from other schools in a house integrated in the community was extremely important to the whole learning experience. I became a part of the community I was working with. 

I learned some of the challenges that many non-profits face in the city and some different tactics to handle those challenges.  I learned about patience and perseverance.  I met some amazing individuals during that time, and they will forever stay in my heart. 

I took U4C my Junior year of college.  As a Senior this year, I can already see how it has impacted the way I view education, the world, and my future.  I am more attentive in class to make connections of what I am learning about a certain topic, and how that can be applied to my own work in the community both now and in the future.  It helped me be prepared for the good and the bad of the non-profit industry.  I feel very skilled and prepared for whatever the future holds in a growing cross-cultural world!

Nou Thao, Crown College, ‘11

The experience was very good and I recommend it for all students who have a heart for the urban cities of the world.  I loved living in community and the small classroom sizes.  It was challenging, stretched me a lot, and I really learned more about myself and others. At my internship, I learned that everything takes soooooo much longer in the “real world” to come through.  I learned patience, and being faithful to something even when it’s hard and not what I expected.  

Dakin Schultz, Northwestern College, ‘13

Whether it is in a class, on my front porch or walking to the local bakery a few blocks away, I have had a fair amount of new experiences in my first semester as a U4C student. Meeting new people, going to new places and learning about the city from people who have lived and worked here has been an amazing and a very special opportunity for me.

I have learned a variety of things at my internship at Hope Academy so far this semester. It has been a great chance that I have had this year and the staff and faculty at the school have been terrific. My supervisor has helped me to connect better with inner-city students and how to help those students connect with Jesus through various activities and trips.

This very original and one-of-a-kind program has given me a different outlook on education and how you can constantly be learning through experience, not just lecture. Through the U4C program I have learned to connect with people who are different from myself and to be able to make connections and build relationships in order to share the Gospel and the love of Christ.

To learn more, visit the U4C website. This piece was put together with extensive support from Patricia Fenwick, Kari Raia, and Roland Wells.


Happy New Year!  Did you make resolutions?  (If so, have you broken any of them yet?)  Motivation is widely recognized as a key factor in successful follow through—and, not surprisingly, in learning too.

Teenagers’ interest in pursuing engineering, for instance, increases dramatically when they hear about the ways it might benefit them and the world.  A recent survey by Intel and Change the Equation found:

  • 63 percent of teens have never considered a career in engineering.
  • 61 percent of teens are more likely to consider engineering after learning that engineering majors make an average annual income of $75,000; more than 50 percent are persuaded by the fact that the unemployment rate among engineers is more than 4 percentage points lower than the national rate.
  • The societal benefits of what engineers do, like preventing disasters or generating cleaner electricity, are particularly resonant with teens that have never considered engineering before.  Learning about engineering feats such as saving the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days motivates 52 percent to think twice about the career.

“The students who are not interested in engineering are most likely to use the word ‘difficult’ to describe engineering,” commented Chronicle of Higher Education blogger Robert Talbert, but “students are willing to take on difficult tasks as long as they know there will be some payoff—for themselves or for the world, or both—at the end of it.”  (And really, are those of us done with school any different?)

With big goals, we’re better off breaking them down and recognizing shorter-term accomplishments and payoffs.  Students studying to be engineers—or anything else—can address public problems long before they’re full-time professionals, and doing so will help the classroom content seem relevant and the students feel successful.  Among the strategies for motivating students to learn, recommended by the authors of How Learning Works:  7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching:  assigning students “authentic, real-world tasks,” including service-learning projects.

Most people in this network don’t need to be reminded of the power of engaged learning, glad as we might be to see it noted in this kind of book.  Yet we can always use more examples of effective practice, more clarity on our common goals, more evidence of positive change.

– Julie Plaut