Westminster Scholars Program
A problem-based approach to liberal education
The Westminster Scholars program offers a selective cohort of academically talented students a chance to complete their liberal education courses in a challenging, hands-on, collaborative learning environment designed to develop their critical, creative and analytical thinking. These motivated students participate in small problem-based learning courses limited to twenty students. The problems explored in these courses will come from current real world situations and will challenge students to actively learn and apply their knowledge to develop solutions.
Student-centered, faculty mentored instruction
Faculty will serve as mentors and facilitators, assisting students as they work independently and in teams to find resources and apply theoretical frameworks and concepts to the problems.
Learning how to apply knowledge and preparing for a complex future
Problem based learning has been a core of the curriculum of many medical schools, including Harvard Medical School, helping to prepare “a whole generation with the capacities for creative thinking and for thriving in a competitive culture, able to work in multidisciplinary teams,… to be comfortable with ambiguity, recognize new patterns with disparate data,…and to be inquisitive and analytical.” (The Council on Competitiveness 2005, 76)
The Westminster Scholars program provides an exciting new model for satisfying liberal education requirements.
There will be a problem based workshop held on Admitted Student Day in the spring of each year. Students are encouraged to participate as a way of introducing themselves to the program director, demonstrating their ability and interest in the program, and to sample the problem based curriculum. Students who are interested in the program but unable to attend are encouraged to write an essay instead, and to use the personal essay to demonstrate their critical thinking abilities, creativity, dedication to working toward solutions to real world problems and ability to successfully participate in a problem based curriculum.
Extra curricular activities
Each year’s cohort of Westminster Scholars will help plan that year’s extra curricular events, centered on a real world problem identified by them. There will be opportunities to spend fall and spring break as well as May Term and the summer working toward solutions to that year’s problem. Depending upon the cohort, the common problem may be local, national, or international in scope. The cohort will also work together to invite and host guest lectures on the topic and to plan summer research components. They will also be involved in mentoring the new group of Westminster Scholars throughout the year.