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Intercultural Peace Building Quality Improvement Plan

Department/Program: Intercultural Peace Building
Review Date: November 12-14, 2019
Last Updated:

*Visiting Team Recommendations **Update on Actions Taken/Current Status Completed Date
The speed and size of growth of Intercultural Peacebuilding in an environment of a scarce resource, including human resources, is deeply concerning and the primary challenge faced by the program. Ideally, this challenge would be addressed at the institutional level, with increased or transferred faculty slots to meet growing student demand. But the university seems to have current resource constraints and other priorities that make this type of outside help unlikely. While the need for additional faculty slots will likely be persistent, some of the challenges we’ve outlined above could be addressed without additional institutional resources or attention. With that in mind, we offer the following recommendations:
1. Clarifying the Program’s Focus —As outlined above, the Intercultural Peacebuilding offers and impressive breadth of courses and content, but the exact logic that this breadth represents is harder to discern. We recommend that the program carefully consider how well current course offerings and program objectives align, and to make adjustments to either its courses offerings or objectives to create closer alignment.

2. Adjusting Course Scheduling —Small classes have been an advantage and strength of the program, allowing for instructors to develop good mentoring relationships with students. The IPB faculty rightly consider these close faculty-student relations to be an essential element of the program’s success. However, given its current personnel challenges, any continued increases in enrollments in the core courses (121, 221, and 480) are likely to strain the program’s ability to offer its full program. Given the program’s commitment to small classes, we recommend that the program consider how to maintain its commitment to small classes by finding ways to expand its course offerings. Potential solutions might include: 1) expanding full-time or part-time faculty to teach additional sections at all levels of the program; 2) reducing the number of elective courses in the catalog (by, perhaps, combining some courses) or offering these courses less often, thus freeing up full-time faculty to teach more sections of the core courses; or 3) forming (or re-forming) partnerships with like-minded programs (such Psychology, Political Science, and Communication) to expand the number of elective courses, thus allowing IPB electives to be offered less frequently and freeing up IPB faculty to teach more sections of the core courses.

3. Settling the David O. McKay Center —As we’ve noted above, the IPB academic program relies on the rich practical experience and lab opportunities inherent in the activities and community outreach of the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding. Unfortunately, the McKay Center is also currently draining the time and attention of the IPB faculty who are currently performing all of the Center’s administrative duties. This drain on the academic program is exacerbated by the center’s financial situation, which is highly unpredictable and unsustainable, creating acute challenges regarding its supporting activities. Since these activities are integral to maintaining a high quality IPB academic program, we recommend that both the program and the university administration carefully consider ways to make the McKay Center’s future more economically and administratively secure. Potential solutions might include: 1) strengthening it with appropriate staffing and financial support within the university structure;2) folding other university entities into the Center, such as Pacific Island Studies, to increase its funding stream and share its administrative load; or 3)finding a way to make it financially and administratively independent of the university yet still remain in a supporting role to programs such as IPB.
4. Identifying Enrollment Solutions —Although, as we’ve noted above, the Intercultural Peacebuilding program clearly advances a core purpose of the university, is increasingly popular with students, and is advantageous to student career opportunities, exactly how those dynamics translate into ideal enrollment levels is less clear. Unlimited growth is unrealistic. Restricting growth to a small number of students (relative to demand) may unnecessarily constrain student choice, foster an elite culture in the IPB program, and fail to fulfill the university’s core purpose. Given the difficulties of these trade-offs, and with limited knowledge of institutional priorities, we offer no specific solutions to the fundamental challenge of rising enrollment in the Intercultural Peacebuilding program. But we so strongly recommend that the program and the university administration engage in a collaborative analysis to consider institutional priorities and establish appropriate strategies for identifying and maintaining ideal (and sustainable)enrollment levels for Intercultural Peacebuilding majors and certificates.