Fusion: The Process That Powers Stars

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By Dr. Beth Harville, Executive Vice President, Provost

Drury University has long been a leader in creating innovative, student-centered educational programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional studies. In the fall of 2019, Drury will launch an exciting new curriculum that gives all graduates distinctive academic and professional credentials, real-world experiences, and life-changing mentoring. Your Drury Fusion is a bold new vision for fulfilling the University’s enduring mission to foster the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge. Fusion equips students for life and career through a unique blending of academic and professional learning. The program empowers students to develop intellectually, gain marketable skills, and earn credentials in specialized areas.

“Faculty recognize that students who come to Drury aren’t empty vessels. They come to us with knowledge, experience, values, beliefs; things that become passions. Those passions are like kindling. Fusion, which implies an explosion, allows us to connect passion to an idea, a theory, a major, or career path. When that happens, a fire ignites and we become less like teachers and more like fans. That’s exciting. It reminds us that what we do is no mere job; it’s a calling.”

– Rick Maxson, Ph.D., Associate Professor – Communication

Our graduates graduates face a world characterized by rapid innovation and change. Critical thinking, multi-disciplinary perspectives, focused creativity, and demonstrated ability to solve real-world problems are necessary skill sets for tomorrow’s leaders. Your Drury Fusion helps students develop these skills through academically rigorous and relevant majors, multi-disciplinary team-taught — all documented on each student’s transcript and supported by a digital portfolio that makes clear how they are equipped for the 21st century.

In Your Drury Fusion, students will earn one or more majors and two certificates, chosen through collaboration with an academic advisor and mentor. Drury’s 55 majors develop students’ disciplinary knowledge, skills, and expertise to prepare them for a profession or post-graduate studies. Certificates are focused, multi-disciplinary credentials that center on a relevant theme or problem such as data analytics, environmental issues, film studies, or graphic storytelling. Certificates have one of two aims: either to develop specific professional competencies, or to follow and explore an intellectual passion. Majors and certificates all culminate in a project-based capstone experience, which gives students practice in applying their learning to the real world. With their advisor, students will select the combination of majors and certificates that meet their personal and career goals, graduating with credentials in both profession and life.

“Built on the foundation of Drury’s longstanding commitment to broad liberal arts education, Your Drury Fusion empowers students to examine big questions, to see issues from multiple perspectives, to think critically, to consider with an open mind the merits of the information they encounter, and to express themselves clearly and effectively.”

– Saundra Weddle, Ph.D., Professor – Architecture

Learning by doing is an essential component of Your Drury Fusion. From first-year courses to majors and certificates, working on relevant real-world projects is a core component of a Drury education. Your Drury Fusion guarantees that all graduates complete at least three project-based learning experience. Students may support their work by applying for experiential learning grants to fund a research project, scholarly endeavor, study away experience, or community engagement project. These competitive grants will provide resources for students to go beyond the traditional educational experiences.

“I think it’s going to be powerful. This semester I introduced Graphic Storytelling – one of the certificates we’ll be offering next fall – to see how students would respond. It was exciting to see them engaged with the idea. Students today want to pursue a diversity of interests.?span> They also want and need to get their hands into something where they can build and make things. That’s how to forge a rich education. Your Drury Fusion is the right kind of experience for its time.”

– Jo Van Arkel, M.F.A., Professor – English

In addition, Drury faculty designed new coursework that prepares students for their chosen majors and certificates. Two new first-year courses will teach the critical thinking, problem-solving strategies and multi-disciplinary thinking students need to engage in the coursework and experience in majors and certificates. In these Frontiers and Intersection courses, students will approach real-world problems and projects from multiple academic perspectives. As they continue in Fusion, students will complete courses in seven areas designed to allow them to explore creativity, ethics, community and civic engagement, the natural world, self and others, narratives and texts, and global culture. All of these courses will be taught in a purposefully small and highly interactive classes using high-impact teaching methods.

“Students want to experiment and make adjustments to their goals and education as they begin exploring new and interesting topics. Your Drury Fusion allows them to do that by taking a multifaceted approach to learning. As a graphic designer, the ability to embrace change and draw upon a variety of relationships, skillsets, and knowledge is imperative to success. Students can customize their education while building cross-functional knowledge and skills that ensure they have the ability to thrive in dynamic environments.”

– Matt Noblett, M.F.A., Assistant Professor – Graphic and Digital Design

In the fall of 2019, entering students will be welcomed by a set of advisors and mentors in the new Compass Center. Each student will be matched with a team of professionals to guide them as they choose profession and life credentials, make decisions regarding career planning and development, and map out their future. Compass Center staff will coordinate these teams to ensure each student receives the resources necessary to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Your Drury Fusion is a new educational paradigm that guides students towards multiple credentials and numerous real-world projects, all within the time of a typical college experience. The combinations of majors and certificates is endless, and each student can develop the unique set that supports their aims. The Fusion advantage centers on the opportunity for students to develop skills and competencies by choosing the combination of courses and credentials that best enable them to purse their career goals and spark their intellectual passions — continuing Drury’s legacy of equipping students to live a life of meaning and purpose.