Over the past few weeks individually and as a representative of the University of Maine at Augusta, I have been honored to collaborate with several organizations to develop new educational opportunities for Maine citizens.

As a result of these collaborations I am convinced that partnerships among organizations with shared educational missions are crucial to offer new high quality education to many different groups of people in Maine. There are financial reasons for doing this; more and more individual organizations do not have the financial wherewithal to develop and manage educational programs alone. But there is also the possibility of developing programs that benefit from a variety of perspectives and ideas.

Here are some of my examples. I know that there are plenty more:

Individually, I am working with the Maine Humanities Council to bring a veterans’ book discussion group to the Kennebec County Correctional Facility. This is similar to veterans’ book groups that the MHC has run throughout the state that encourages veterans to read and share stories and ideas that relate to their shared military and veteran experiences. The humanities council has found a wonderful reception in a variety of states that have offered this program; it is important to provide veterans with the resources to reflect and talk with each other about their shared experiences.

As part of UMA, I am working with University of Maine Presque Isle to allow UMPI to offer their baccalaureate degree in history on the UMA campus. UMA has history classes and full- and part-time history professors, but have not had a history degree. We also have students who are interested in history for whom we have had to advise them to transfer to another institution that does offer a history degree. This shared degree has the potential to allow UMA students to finish up their education here, but also to allow our professors to become part of a broader community of scholars to share curricular and pedagogical innovations in history.

UMA is working with Bridge Year Educational Services to offer UMA courses at 14 Maine high schools. This will enable high school students who are studying in career and technical schools to also graduate with a number of college credits on their way to a baccalaureate degree. This is exciting, but also involves a great deal of work: faculty have to share their expertise with high school faculty, share syllabi and also participate in a careful assessment of what students are learning to ensure that these courses are identical to the courses we offer on our own campuses.

Finally, individually and as part of UMA, I have worked with Maine’s newest charter school, the Snow Pond Arts Academy in Sidney, to help offer a performing arts-based education to high school students in central Maine. Many UMA faculty, who have a good deal of expertise in the arts, will also be able to teach this talented group of high school students.

Each of these projects is the result of many different people willingly breaking down artificial barriers within our educational and social institutions. For any number of reasons, it takes courage to do this, but in my experience the educational benefits to these partnerships are far reaching and profound.

Greg Fahy is dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he has been since 2012. He also teaches philosophy courses where he encourages students to question assumptions that we all share about philosophical and ethical topics.


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