College expands course offerings at regional campuses

W.B. Young Building on the Storrs campus.
W.B. Young Building on the Storrs campus.

Located in Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury and Avery Point, UConn’s regional campuses provide students with more local options to earn a certificate or degree or fulfill general education requirements before heading to the main campus in Storrs to complete their studies. An increasing number of UConn baccalaureate degree programs can be earned entirely at the regional campuses.

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) has been increasing its undergraduate course offerings at the University’s regional campuses. Many of these courses introduce students to the diverse array of majors within the College and lay out paths to degree programs at Storrs.

“It’s nice to have this bridge for students at the regional campuses,” says Sheila Andrew, professor of animal science and extension dairy specialist.

Four years ago, Andrew began teaching Principles of Animal Nutrition and Feeding at all the regional campuses, combining in-person lecture at one location with a simultaneous live feed sent to classrooms at the other campuses. Andrew rotates the lecture site to ensure she visits students at each location at least once during the semester.

“We wanted to find a way to have our students become more integrated into the animal science program,” says Andrew. “These students typically complete a year at the regional campus before coming to Storrs. We found they felt a little behind since they were unable to take a course in the major, unlike their peers at Storrs. This class gave those students an opportunity to complete a required course and build a connection to the department.”

Professor Sheila Andrew supervises two students performing an ultrasound on a cow.
Professor Sheila Andrew supervises two students performing an ultrasound on a cow.

At the end of the semester, Andrew invites the students to Storrs for a daylong event to meet faculty and their heretofore virtual classmates. The group tours the animal science facilities at Storrs where they participate in hands-on activities with the animals and get acquainted with staff in the department’s laboratories and livestock, cattle and equine units.

“It has worked out well. We have twice as many students in the class than when we first started. The feedback has been very good and I have to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful IT [information technology] departments at all the campuses for making this class possible. I also want to thank the administration and staff for their valuable help with long-distance examinations.”

Andrew is not alone in bringing unique teaching methods to regional campus courses. In Hartford, Associate Professor Peter Miniutti of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA) arranges his in person course, The Common Landscape of the USA: Rights, Responsibilities and Values, to utilize the urban environment.

Students walk outside the entrance of the UConn Hartford campus on Aug. 14, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Students walk outside the entrance of the UConn Hartford campus on Aug. 14, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Miniutti uses the city as his classroom, taking students into the streets where they learn to recognize the types of limitations cities face and ways to improve the urban landscape. In addition to lecture and the walking tours, students in the class complete small projects and present their own ideas on how to enhance their surroundings.

“The class is about cause and effect, examining how the forces of individuals, government power and our individual and collective value systems influence land development patterns,” says Miniutti. “We use Hartford as a living example to talk about how it was shaped and why it looks the way it does.”

The PSLA course fulfills three credits of the arts and humanities general education requirement. Miniutti says the course also enlightens students as to what landscape architects do.

“I had an engineering student who thought landscape architects spend all their time drawing at a desk,” says Miniutti. “He didn’t realize how much of this profession involves getting out into the community to see what can be done and interacting with people to learn what they care about.”

Other CAHNR courses at the regional campuses also furnish students with credits towards general education content areas while reflecting aspects of the College’s mission to explore the interrelationships among food, natural resources and human and animal health, connecting them in a manner that is economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

Exterior views of the Avery Point campus on Nov. 18, 2016. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
Exterior views of the Avery Point campus on Nov. 18, 2016. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Avery Point hosts an environmental science course that addresses areas of environmental concern, including conservation, biodiversity and pollution and waste management, and strategies to effectively address problems.

In Hartford, Waterbury and Stamford, Fundamentals of Nutrition, explains the nature and function of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins and their roles in human nutrition.

Credits from these courses are accepted for the general education science and technology content area.

Another nutrition course, Food, Culture and Society, examines the impacts social, cultural and economic factors have on food intake and nutrition status. The class counts towards the international diversity and multiculturalism general education content area.

Beyond the courses mentioned, the College also offers classes at the regional campuses in marine fishery economics and policy, environmental law, nutrition and human development and the fundamentals of horticulture. There are also several different lifetime sports and skills classes, including martial arts, offered through the kinesiology department.

A view of the Waterbury campus library on May 1, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
A view of the Waterbury campus library on May 1, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The College has also been working to bring complete degree programs to the regional campuses. UConn recently announced that the College’s allied health sciences bachelor’s degree program will be coming to the Waterbury campus.

“This CAHNR initiative will allow undergraduate students to complete all four years of the allied health degree at UConn’s Waterbury campus,” says Sandra Bushmich, associate dean for academic programs in the College. “The Waterbury region hospitals and health care industries have a growing need for graduates with allied health science education. This initiative will help local students gain this education without leaving the region, and ultimately fill this employment need with economic benefits to the community. Additionally, students who attain an associate degree in health sciences at Naugatuck Valley Community College will have a smooth, local pathway to the Allied Health Sciences baccalaureate degree.”

There are currently about two hundred undergraduates at UConn’s regional campuses that have declared their major in the College.

By Jason M. Sheldon