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What Is Synergies

Synergies . . . 

  • Is a teaching and learning framework that aims to educate the whole student by enabling the integration of STEM with liberal arts (humanities, arts, and social sciences) and social responsibility.

  • Enables different constituents to work together and deliver teaching and learning to students by creating (together) curricular, co-curricular, or ancillary learning activities. Constituents can be faculty from different programs/ colleges/ universities, as well as members from the community or industry.

  • Enables learners to see the World's problems with different view lenses, therefore, models to the learners the synergistic nature of problem solving.

  • Utilizes systems and vectors to analyze the components of “create for good” and study the interaction of STEM, liberal arts, and social responsibility; and uses narratives to describe the interactions.

  • Enables engineers, scientists, and technologists to see the importance of liberal arts and social responsibility in solving real world problems, including the ones of a technical nature; and enables people in humanities, arts, or social sciences to see the importance of the engineering methodology, scientific process, and social responsibility in solving real world problems, including the ones of a social nature.

Synergies Entities, Types, and Categories

Synergy Entities and Sub-Entities

  1. ​Our University (Courses, Programs/Departments, Colleges)

  2. Community (Community Organizations, Schools, Libraries, Social Enterprises, Maker Spaces)

  3. Industry (Companies, Organizations)

  4. Other Universities

Synergy Types

  1. Type I - Course-to-Course

  2. Type II - Program-to-Program

  3. Type III - College-to-College

  4. Type IV - University-to-Community

  5. Type V - University-to-Industry

  6. Type VI - University-to-University

Synergy Categories

  • Type I, Type II, and Type III are internal (to Our University) synergies

  • Type IV, Type V, and Type VI are external (to Our University) synergies

Synergies Entities and Types IV.png

Examples of Synergies

Type I Synergy (Internal): Course-to-Course


A synergy between an "Engineering and Technology" course and a "Writing and Rhetoric" course may create common curriculum for the two courses. For example, students may study assembly line design and its impact on manufacturing and on society. Students will work on engineering calculations and reflections in "Engineering and Technology" and will continue the discussions in "Writing and Rhetoric" while working on the writing side of the assignment.

Synergy between different programs/departments within the same college, i.e. a senior design project synergy between, say, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering programs; or a science and humanities fair between, say, Physics and Philosophy departments. Contemporary themes such as sustainability, or social justice maybe used to promote synergistic work.

Type II Synergy (Internal): Program-to-Program


Type III Synergy (Internal): College-to-College


Senior design project synergies between, say, College of Engineering and College of Medicine; or College of Arts & Sciences and College of Education.

Service-learning activities for students in service-learning certified courses. Students acquire content knowledge in the class, practice what they learned in a service-learning setting, and reflect on the experience.

Type IV Synergy (External): University-to-Community


Synergies with Industry resulting in internships, internships for college credit, CO-OP, practicum, etc. Type V Synergies enable educators and industry/business experts to interact and co-create teaching and learning activities.

Type V Synergy (External): University-to-Industry


Type VI Synergy (External): University-to-University


Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), study abroad, teaching abroad, inter-university research, attending an online class at another university, domestic or abroad.​ But also, "domestic COIL", if I am allowed to call it so. Imagine the value to the students of COIL-ing a course from, say, a university in rural Mississippi with a course from an inner-city university in Chicago!

Type of Synergy: Multiple


A combination of multiple synergistic activities. For example, students may register for an "Engineering and Technology" course designated for service-learning (UNV-to-COM synergy) and a "Wisdom in Antiquity" course designated for collaborative online international learning (UNV-to-UNV synergy). The instructors of the two courses coordinate curricula in a CRS-to-CRS synergy. In the summer, students participate in a study abroad program (UNV-to-UNV synergy). The study abroad program includes an internship at the local industry (UNV-to-IND synergy).  

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