Provost Forms Committee to Develop ‘X-College’ Initiative

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Jennifer Herazy
Office of the Provost

As academic and administrative units continue to develop and initiate plans in response to the five goals outlined in the Georgia Tech Strategic Plan, academic leadership has begun to explore some of the ten institutional initiatives that accompanied the document.

Earlier this month, Provost Rafael L. Bras announced the creation of a committee that will review options and formulate strategies for the creation of an X-College, one of the ideas that sprouted from the yearlong strategic planning process.

“The X-College Initiative grew from the very strong recommendations from students and faculty in the strategic planning process that Georgia Tech needs to increase student-faculty interaction and allow more flexibility in curricula,” said Richard Barke, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and chair of the X-College planning committee. “For example, the X-College is considering whether to allow students — with strong faculty guidance — to compose programs of study that focus on particular ‘grand challenges’ facing society, using knowledge from a wide range of relevant fields. The committee is investigating how to achieve these goals while balancing disciplinary and interdisciplinary learning, maintaining the traditional rigor of a Tech education, innovating in learning techniques and educational technologies, and respecting the expectations of graduate schools and employers.”

The vision is broader than student-designed degrees, however. An X-College experience should also serve to challenge faculty to experiment with learning techniques, balancing core instruction with problem-based approaches. Other opportunities could lie in developing alternatives to regular courses taught in semester-length blocks.

“For some time, our students have asked the administration to offer some kind of self-directed learning options,” Bras said. “The X-College concept should be developed to reflect the fundamental importance of a rigorous Georgia Tech education, to complement existing degree programs and academic units, and to prepare students for creative careers.”

Committee members include:

  • Richard Barke, Public Policy (chair)
  • Sabir Khan, Architecture
  • Ravi Bellamkonda, Biomedical Engineering
  • Colin Potts, Interactive Computing
  • Rich DeMillo, Computer Science
  • Monica Halka, Honors Program
  • Jason Freeman, Music
  • David Collard, Chemistry 
  • Mike Schatz, Physics
  • Stylianos Kavadias, Management
  • Becki Grinter, Interactive Computing
  • Usha Nair-Reichert, Economics
  • Lisa Yaszek, Literature, Communication and Culture
  • Bert Bras, Mechanical Engineering
  • Ayanna Howard, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Nicholas Robson, undergraduate student
  • Rob Parrish, graduate student
  • Elliotte Creel, undergraduate student