WILSON, N.C. – Please join the Barton College community on Tuesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. for a stimulating evening of student presentations focusing on American-Cuban policy.  The presentations will be made in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center. There is no charge for the event, and the community is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.

The following questions were posed to Barton students for research and response as they prepared for their presentations. “Should any policy change depend upon reform within the Cuban government or revolution against the Cuban government?”  “Should the opinions of Latin Americans and/or members of the United Nations affect American policy?”  “President Obama recently eased restrictions on travel by Cuban Americans and on gifts sent by Cuban Americans to their relatives in Cuba. Was that a good decision?  Should he do more?”

“These are questions Americans currently face, and as part of the new General Education program at Barton College, our students are being asked to face and attempt to ‘solve’ these problems,” said Dr. Alan Lane, associate professor of history in the Department of History and Social Sciences and the director of general education and the quality enhancement plan.

This assignment is the result of a new academic initiative on the Barton campus. During the past year, Barton College began the initial stages of implementation for its new General Education core, which emphasizes student writing, oral communication, critical thinking, and global awareness.  Each Barton student completes four writing intensive courses, two speaking intensive courses and four critical thinking intensive courses.  This focused academic core curriculum prepares students for GEN 301, Barton’s General Education Capstone course taken during the junior year.  Each capstone class centers on one problem facing America or the world, and Barton students are asked to research, discuss, and determine what they believe to be the best solution to that problem.  While some classes may choose an issue with a political focus, others may choose a cultural, economic, or environmental issue that affects the United States or the world.

“None of the students studying American-Cuban policy this summer are history majors or international relations majors,” said Dr. Lane.  “Most of this class represents social work majors while a few students enrolled in the class are studying business.  But it’s incredibly exciting to observe these students putting so much energy into how America should approach this serious political-diplomatic issue of the western hemisphere.  This is an issue that everyone should be discussing; it affects our lives and America’s future.  And, the Barton faculty want our students to be attuned to these national and international issues and to understand how they impact our lives.”

Dr. Lane went on to share his pride in his Weekend College students in this class. “I hope our students, through this experience, gain not only a good understanding of the one issue they worked on but also gain a greater confidence in their ability to find out about and understand other issues that face the United States and the world today.”  Dr. Lane said most of the students in this class are working full time or have just begun final internships in the social work program. This course required students to read some 800 pages of material on Cuban affairs, and they have debated the issues in six four-hour classes.  Other requirements included presenting speeches, writing papers, and researching an important international issue that affects the future of the country.

“The result of this challenging and thought-provoking study is the development of honed communication and writing skills and a heightened level of critical thinking for our students,” Dr. Lane concluded.  “Barton students are learning to articulate and debate, to discuss and investigate.  They are learning to reach beyond the obvious to discover significant solutions to serious issues, to make informed decisions, and to identify positive change for our world.”

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Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.

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