SHUsquare to Enhance Teaching and Learning Across Disciplines
Sacred Heart University’s SHUsquare website made its official debut on September 10 at a meeting attended by first-year students and faculty in the Fairfield campus’ Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts.
Marie Hulme, an English instructor and director of SHUsquare, which has been described as a “Virtual Public Square,” introduced the new and exciting initiative. She told the audience that SHUsquare is “a social media platform that allows students and faculty to keep conversations going beyond the classroom and a place of intellectual connectivity.” Hulme introduced the person she called the “creative inspiration” for the innovative site, Seamus Carey, dean of SHU’s College of Arts & Sciences, and a panel of faculty members from various departments, who shared how SHUsquare can be used to engage students in meaningful ways. The site was piloted on a limited basis last year and has now been rolled out to all participants in SHU’s First-Year Seminar program.
In introducing Carey, Hulme told students, “Dean Carey had a vision for all of you to have a place to express yourselves creatively and intellectually.” She added SHUsquare was a place for them to examine issues and ideas limited only by their curiosity about the world. Carey urged students to use the site to formulate their own voices. “We’re trying to build a community around intellectual ideas,” Carey explained. “As college students, if you do that for four years, you’ll have a good map of where you want to get to, and you’re going to have a solid voice with which to speak when you go out into the world.”
The faculty panel had many positive comments to share based on their experiences with SHUsquare. Michelle Loris, professor of psychology, and Mark Jareb, professor of biology, explained how they had set up an interdisciplinary discussion forum that allowed their students to share research and exchange ideas about a common topic.
“We’re not limited just to writing on SHUsquare; we also have video capability,” added Jerry Reid, professor of sociology. He said his students have made short videos in which they present papers or continue conversations begun in the classroom. “It’s an interesting way, in addition to writing, to carry these conversations among ourselves beyond our particular classroom and into classrooms of our fellow students and professor.”
Continuing that idea, June-Ann Greeley, professor of religious studies, said that SHUsquare had provided a place for her students to post and share videos created about a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., that incorporated music and images. “It was a wonderful way for students to share their creative side,” she said.
Junior Chris Minardi, who was instrumental in designing the site, added his perspective as a student. “Being educated doesn’t only mean getting an education,” he told his fellow students, “it also means interacting with your professors, each other and with the world. That’s what SHUsquare brings; it brings us all together. We’re pioneers, not just in sports, but in this way, with this site.”
Hulme summarized by describing SHUsquare as a kind of “ landing space” for students to reimagine the world. “Let’s keep the conversation going,” she said.