TriCo Pilot Program Brings the Classroom to Philly

This spring, the Tri-College Consortium is launching its new pilot program for students to take two classes at the Friends Center in Center City Philadelphia. The program is rooted in the desire of the presidents of the Tri-Co schools to strengthen collaborative relationships between the three colleges. It was originally intended to be an immersive program in which students from the Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges live in Philadelphia for a semester and take all their classes there. This remains a future goal for the program to build up to after its initial semester.

The program offers three classes, one of which is required. The core course is “Philadelphia: Inventing a City,” taught by Thomas Devaney, a visiting professor of English at Haverford.

“We explore the city’s rich literary history. [Philadelphia] is also a City of Ideas, an incubator, a place where ideas and ideals have been tested out in real-time,” Devaney wrote. “The class is an immersion in the city and its literature. There will be a number of site visits and guest speakers. A throughline is living with the presence of the past.”

In addition to the core class, students can choose one of two elective courses. One is a political science class, “The Politics of the Creative Class in American Cities,” taught by Stephen McGovern, an associate professor of political science at Haverford. The other is “Narrativity and Hip Hop,” an English class taught by Mecca Sullivan, an assistant professor of English at Bryn Mawr.

The program also involves monthly activities in the city, some of which will be mandatory and others which will be optional. These activities will range from volunteering to social justice work to leisure activities.

According to Calista Cleary, the planning director of the program, students may have the opportunity to design and direct activities in the city.

“[The program] will offer students the opportunity to experience and to better understand the diversity of the world we inhabit, to directly observe and grapple with how scholarship connects with and maps onto real-world experience and to appreciate cities as vital sites of innovation, creativity and complexity,” Cleary said.

One of the goals of the program is to center learning on the city of Philadelphia and show real-world applications to what students have learned in the classroom.

“The program was designed to elevate the institutions’ collective educational goals by expanding opportunities for students, as well as the three colleges, to become more active and engaged citizens of a broader community,” Cleary wrote.

Some other goals for the future of the program include adding a wider range of disciplines, including STEM classes, to the curriculum.

The application is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the Tri-Co. According to Cleary, the reason for not including first years is that they are still acclimating to their campuses.

Though the program begins in the spring of 2019, applications are due October 26, and students will be notified on November 5 if they have been accepted. The Swarthmore information session is on October 25, and it is mandatory for students who are applying.

Featured image courtesy of Emma Ricci-De Lucca

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