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Residential Institute connects students from online programs

Hosted by CAHSS twice a year at NSU main campus

Twice a year, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences welcomes students from various online programs for its Residential Institute.

Held every winter and fall semester, the Residential Institute started in 1999 as an initiative from Dean Honggang Yang, Ph.D., in what was then called the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The first event was hosted at a Best Western Hotel in Fort Lauderdale and included 31 students, Yang said. In contrast, the 35th event hosted in fall 2016 attracted over 110 students.

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“We wanted students to have more face-to-face communication with faculty,” Yang said. “It creates cohort cohesion. Some cohorts were talking about class interaction before RI.”

Early events took place from Monday through Friday, but Yang said feedback from students led to the current Friday to Tuesday schedule, which makes travel more convenient for attendees.

The event brings students enrolled in online M.S., Ph.D., and Graduate Certificate programs from the Departments of Conflict Resolution Studies, History and Political Science, and Multidisciplinary Studies to NSU’s main campus. The schedule includes a variety of activities, including presentations from faculty and various working groups, as well as a keynote dinner.

“We love the opportunity to get to know our online students,” said Associate Professor Robin Cooper, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution Studies and one of the event’s co-organizers.

Cooper noted that Residential Institute attracts students not just from the U.S., but also internationally from countries in Africa and Asia.

“We are a community of peacebuilders, and students dedicating their time and experience shows their commitment to peace,” she said. “It’s a visible manifestation of peacebuilding in action.”

Associate Professor Judith McKay, Ph.D./J.D., chair of the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies, co-organizes Residential Institute and has been involved with the event since 1999.

“It’s evolved into something incredible, like a mini conference,” she said. “The networking opportunities are amazing, both with faculty and each other.”

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Due to Residential Institute running twice a year, McKay said it is something she is always working on, and sometimes it can be difficult to create a schedule with events that do not conflict with each other. She listed the Social Justice Roundtable as her personal highlight of the 35th event. The roundtable featured 25 students examining the topic of inclusion.

Although each Residential Institute follows similar organizational patterns, Yang is open to changes to improve the event.

“I want to stay open-minded to the challenges on how to promote learning,” he said.

The 36th Residential Institute runs from Feb. 10-14, 2017 at NSU's Main Campus. For more information, click here.

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