The Associated Colleges of the Midwest has decided to pause its three off-campus study programs through academic year 2023-2024, following a series of operational challenges that began with the COVID-19 pandemic. ACM staff will use this time to assess the programs and work with our member campuses to ensure that we are best meeting their needs.
The programs impacted by this process are Newberry Seminar: Research in the Humanities, Field Museum Semester: Research in Natural History, and the Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS).
ACM has not run any off-campus study programs since Fall 2019 due to COVID-19 related issues, decreased student applications, and difficulty appointing visiting faculty directors. The ORSS, previously managed by Denison University, was slated to launch in Fall 2020 and the Field Museum program in Fall 2021, but neither have been able to operate. Two of these programs, ORSS and Newberry Seminar, are offered to students from the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) as well as undergraduates outside the two consortia, and faculty from ACM and GLCA schools are invited to apply to lead them.
With the ongoing program uncertainties, ACM will pause the three programs, and they will not operate in Fall 2023. (All three programs have also been cancelled for Fall 2022.) Staff will use the next six months to assess the programs by exploring enrollment challenges, student interest, faculty availability, and campus needs. We want to understand if these challenges are isolated to the pandemic or are due to other factors. This pause will give us time to reflect and gather feedback from our member campuses. We want to be sure that our program offerings deliver the best experience for students and faculty and align with campus needs and ACM resources.
ACM will establish an Off-Campus Study Committee to assist with the assessment and will then present our findings and recommendations to the ACM Board of Directors in November 2022. We expect to announce the next steps for the programs to the ACM community near the end of this year.
Since the 1960s, ACM operated a portfolio of international and domestic off-campus study programs. Over time, the program offerings have changed based on student interest and campus needs. ACM sunset the international off-campus study programs and the Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Social Justice during the 2018-2019 academic year.
ACM also has relationships with affiliated programs—Japan Study and River Semester—that are operated by other organizations. These programs are not impacted by the pause. Students interested in these programs should still apply using the program’s normal process.
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