Helios Program Implemented on Campus


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

The Helios Program for Integrated Liberal Arts on campus is co-directed by Dr. Amanda Tucker, Professor of English and Director of General Education, and Dr. Katie Kalish, Professor of English and Director of First Year Writing.

The first step of the Helios Program is the first-year, gateway experience which “is a foundation of the Helios program: it’s designed to increase access to Humanities-based learning for all students and to help first-year students feel connected to their peers and to Platteville,” Dr. Tucker said.

In the Fall of 2020, Dr. Tucker and Dr. Kalish worked to develop a program that would serve undecided and incoming students, while also “(moving) the humanities from the periphery to the center of university life—which is an ambitious goal,” said Dr. Tucker.

These classes are based in education related to college, such as college writing classes and Intro to Philosophy. “Gateway courses are anchored by a common reading list, and 50% of course readings come from this list,” Dr. Tucker said.

With help and funding provided by Teagle and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Helios Program was established and successfully launched in September of this year. With the current funding, the program is expected to last through the Summer of 2024.

Along with these classes, extracurricular activities are offered, such as the Danez Smith event held on Oct. 18. Smith was part of the Helios Speaker Series, a paramount feature of the Helios Program, where influential speakers that are related to the readings from gateway courses, are invited to the campus; moreover, the success of the event encouraged Dr. Tucker and Dr. Kalish to continue with this series into next year.

The foundation of the program is based on how to better students’ experience here on campus and is using funds to create learning opportunities that are accessible and available. The result is a program that increases access to humanities learning and aims to create meaningful pathways.

These extracurricular activities help students build a strong connection with the community, Dr. Tucker said. Upcoming events include giving tickets to see Macbeth.

The second step of the Helios Program are the pathway courses that are more focused on a thematic approach. The pathway courses include various thematic clusters—such as conflict and law resolution, environment and sustainability and inclusivity—which appeal to a variety of student interests and also offer certificates related to these fields.

“These courses build interdisciplinary knowledge and a sense of application,” Dr. Tucker said.

The Helios Program helps to address the collective trauma that has been ingrained into younger generations, such as an obsessive need to work more while feeding into an increased sense of uncertainty.