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SuperStudio

SuperStudio

The Honors College SuperStudio

The educational benefits of problem-based learning, design thinking, communities of practice, and studio courses in higher education are now well documented.  The Honors College SuperStudio initiative builds upon these practices to help students engage in the kinds of transdisciplinary and massively-collaborative work they will need to employ as professionals and citizens to address critical 21st century issues.  The SuperStudio concept thus brings together — in one space — multiple advanced courses, each of which focus on a different critical aspect of a complex global challenge, and all of which work together toward possible coordinated solutions. 

SuperStudio students enroll in one of the participating 3-credit courses and in UH 4984: Honors SuperStudio, a required co-requisite 1-credit course with a common meeting time that allows students to work together in transdisiciplinary teams to explore connections among their subjects and approaches, consider the challenges to such broadly collaborative efforts, and pursue the possibility of coordinated problem-solving.  

All participating courses meet in the Honors College's SuperStudio space in Squires Student Center (formerly the Old Dominion Ballroom) to facilitate student collaboration within each section, between various sections, and among all sections as a whole. Each student gains swipe-card access to the studio and a project-development space.  The Honors SuperStudio is now a vibrant transdisciplinary community of practice.

Honors College Studio space
The former Old Dominion Ballroom in the Squires Student Center before its transformation to SuperStudio.
SuperStudio
The SuperStudio space, now redesigned, to allow for collaboration and flexible working spaces.

The SuperStudio initiative harnesses the work of five advanced courses in environmental policy, healthcare, emerging technologies, the future of higher education, and the future of employment to examine the challenges and potentials of the Green New Deal, an emerging framework for understanding and addressing interconnected crises in climate change and economic inequality.

Students from these courses are arranged equally in transdisciplinary teams that will meet in UH 4984: Honors SuperStudio to:

1) Consider issues and processes that apply to all transdisciplinary work, such as: 

  • Ethics
  • Equity
  • Decisions
  • Problem framing
  • Emergent technologies & ideas

2) Learn about the history, evolution, component initiatives, and current status of the Green New Deal through various disciplinary contexts;

3) Perform focused investigations of particular features of the Green New Deal, with the students bringing their domain-specific expertise to bear to interrogate and seek coordinated responses to issues such as:

  • Universal basic needs, such as education, income, housing, health care, and elder care
  • Job training for displaced fossil fuel workers
  • Zero-emissions power and digitizing the power grid
  • Electric vehicles and high-speed rail

For more information, please contact Nikki Lewis (lewissn@vt.edu) or Anne-Lise Velez (aknox@vt.edu). 

SuperStudio Course Descriptions

UH 4504: Environmental Policy and Social Change
Public policy encompasses not just laws, but regulations, funding priorities, and decision-making in public institutions. In this course, we will study the National Environmental Policy Act to understand policy process; ethics, accountability, and diversity in policy making; and how sectoral differences affect policy decisions.

UH 4504: "Medicare for all!": Data Analysis for Health Reform
National and global health agencies mine patient data to determine trends in health care and make predictions about health crises. But does that data accurately reflect the health of all citizens? Moreover, does that data suggest how we might pay for universal healthcare as described in the Green New Deal?

UH 4504: "Drone-Age" Innovation for the Public Good
Drone technology has tremendous potential for social and environmental public good. In this course, we will engage in problem-finding and design thinking for real-world applications of drone technology.

UH 4504: The Future of Higher Education
How will higher education change in a world of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and distance education? In light of policies such as the Green New Deal, how will access, affordability, and innovation change learning and higher education?

Urban Affairs & Planning (UAP) 4914: The Future of Employment
In this seminar, we will study the Green New Deal from a variety of perspectives -- industrial, academic, governmental, civil, and socio-ecological -- paying close attention to how the proposed initiatives might advance or undermine meaningful and well-paid employment in the future.