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 Tuesday, March 13, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Residential Academic Program Spotlight – Sewall RAP
By Corey Jones, sophomore, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Residential Academic Programs (RAPS) can be found in residence halls all across campus, connecting diverse students with similar interests while promoting extensive understanding in a vast range of subject areas. In this series, we explore these innovative programs that provide many undergraduates with close social and intellectual communities and shared learning and living experiences. Part six of this series features the Sewall Residential Academic Program.

Sewall RAP weaves a broad liberal arts curriculum with the study of the American West as a distinct region.

All student-participants reside in Sewall Hall, which has a long history in itself. Sewall is the oldest residence hall on campus.

Ann Carlos began directing the program in August.

“In terms of the curriculum, we put together a focused attempt to teach analytical writing and reading in all of the courses. That base provides students with a solid structure for their next three or four years,” she said. 

Students are expected to enroll in at least one course each semester. One course must fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences U.S. Context core requirement. The program offers multiple U.S. history courses, including some established in CU-Boulder’s Center of the American West.

“Every Sewall student will have this experience, and I think it is important that they can all speak the same language,” Carlos said. “The West is a very distinctive place, defined by many different dimensions: its politics, environment, and geographic location.”

Originally from the West Coast, freshman Arik King expected to get a lot out of his involvement with Sewall RAP.

“I grew up in California, which is considered a big part of the American West. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the past from the historical context of the United States,” King said. “We cover a broad range of topics such as immigration, energy, and land preservation. It is very interesting information.”

Students are also required to take a non-U.S. Context course. These courses represent a variety of choices and most fulfill an additional core requirement of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The program also implements a civic engagement component in an effort to teach students “a sense of place,” Carlos said. Students have many opportunities to explore relevant topics outside the classroom.

“It does not matter how good the books, pictures and overheads projections are, you still have to see it all in practice,” Carlos said. “It provides that link between what students are doing in the classroom and the real world, and I think that is vitally important.”

Students can travel to county sites such as open space areas, as well as talk to local sources like park rangers and city planners.

Sewall RAP helped sponsor “An Evening of Lakota Storytelling" with Joseph Marshall III at this year’s 12th annual Campus Diversity Summit. The program also plans to conduct an immigrant dialogue day with members of the Boulder community.

“I would like us to host events like this each semester because it brings Sewall to the community and the community to Sewall,” Carlos said.  

The RAP also offers volunteer opportunities, which currently include working with a disabled skiing program at Eldora Mountain Resort and assisting with literacy work in grade schools.

“We enjoy looking at the Flatirons and skiing, but we also need to understand what the American West is,” Carlos said. “It is very empowering for the students to think over their experiences and what they see. The very large aspiration is that they turn out to be strong, committed citizens.”

Sewall’s environment establishes that context very effectively, King said.

He added, “Sewall is unique in a lot of ways, including its location on campus. Because the residence hall is slightly isolated from the other halls, the Sewall community tends to be really strong.”

For more information, visit the Sewall RAP website.

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