Paper airplanes swoop through an economics classroom one fall day in 2018. No, a spontaneous airplane battle has not broken out. Students are learning about how available resources—in this case, paper—help determine what a country exports.
"We learned about competition and specialization on a hands-on level rather than just out of the text book. That was probably my favorite lesson," says Hannah O'Hara '22, a luxury brand management and marketing major.
As a new generation enters college—with a different way of learning—Susquehanna University is responding with innovative curriculum changes, teaching methods, living spaces and more.
Real-world experiences are giving students a level of insight that can't be achieved behind a desk.
"Students immediately see the relevance of what they are studying. It puts them into the world they want to be in," says Laurence Roth, Degenstein professor of English, co-chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing and director of Jewish & Israel studies.
As part of Susquehanna's project-based learning initiative, Emma Fleck, associate professor of management, matched her entrepreneurship students with clients to create solutions to problems faced by these businesses. Students were able to sell this experience to prospective employers to land jobs.
More active learning helps cultivate the soft skills like leadership, communication and time management that LinkedIn found nearly 60 percent of employers seek.
"SU prides itself on delivering an extremely high-quality traditional liberal arts education, while also prioritizing practical, marketable skills for its graduates," says Matt Duperon, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning.
The newest programs that connect the traditional broad liberal arts education with clear career pathways include biomedical sciences, sports media, environmental studies, business data analytics and an engineering arrangement with Columbia University.
Roth helms one of the most successful new programs introduced a few years ago—publishing & editing. One of the first of its kind in the nation, it bridges the gap between the traditional English literature major and our booming creative writing program.
"It's a great time for innovation because everything about higher education is changing," Roth says.
Learning also is extending beyond the classroom into Susquehanna's residence halls. The Class of 2023 will see the most living-learning community options in our history.
O'Hara was part of a living-learning community in 2018-19. Walking into her first-year business classes, she was welcomed by a sea of familiar faces from her residence hall.
"I've loved every bit of it," she says. "College is a difficult transition for anyone. Living in a community like I do means we all have something in common right away."