Academics

Johnston Faculty Handbook

This is a handbook for all university faculty that describes Johnston processes and the faculty role in them. Please contact the director or post a question here if the handbook does not address your question or concern.

"There's a Johnston Student in my Class. What do I do?"

Johnston students are members of the College of Arts and Sciences who have also been admitted to the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. They will ask you to negotiate a contract with them for their course work. Contracting is central to Johnston education, as we explain in the University catalogue, “The program is organized on four principles: that self-direction is a motivating force in learning, that negotiation among those involved in teaching and learning optimizes student ownership of education, that written evaluations are highly effective means of assessing student performance, and that education can be made more effective by integrating students’ living and learning environments. These ideals are made concrete in individual courses by contract…” (University of Redlands Catalogue, 69)

First step: Ideally, Johnston students will identify themselves to you and make an appointment in your office hours to negotiate the contract. (You may want to ask if there are Johnston students when you start the semester, and then encourage them to approach you.) The contract is reflected in a written document, and the students should bring that template to the appointment. The content of the contract should reflect how students identify their learning goals in relationship to your course goals and plans. Some of them will exactly follow your schedule and assignments, but they should still put their goals is writing. You need that information to write an evaluation for the student. Other Johnston students may ask to change aspects of the course by reading more or different texts than the ones you have planned, or they might propose a different form of assessment than what is on the syllabus, for example, a research paper in lieu of an exam. Advanced students have a graduation contract on file and may ask to shape assignments to their interdisciplinary concentration.

Second step: The written contract is turned into the Registrar by the student. This is their responsibility. The deadline for fall course contracts is listed on the calendar.

Third step: At the end of the semester, students should give you a self-evaluation of their work and a faculty evaluation to the Johnston office. (It is then sent to the Office of Academic Affairs to be placed with the rest of the student evaluations of your teaching administered at the end of each semester.) You will write an evaluation by taking into consideration that initial contract, the students’ work in your course, and the self evaluation. We have more detailed recommendations in the handbook. You indicate Johnston student status in the class on the roster, just follow the instructions you receive from the Registrar. You then have six weeks to write a narrative evaluation—no grade—for the Johnston student. That evaluation will be due to the Registrar by the date listed on the academic calendar.

Last tips for contracting: We find that contracting really does help students become active learners. But they are often as new to the process as you are, particularly if they are first year students. You are teaching as you contract. Do not agree to conditions that don’t make good educational sense, such as “I’d like to contract out of discussions…” Please do help students think through how to explore a course of study in creative ways that meet your standards. If a contract simply will not work for your course, tell the students immediately so that they can consider a different class choice before the add/drop deadlines.

This is a brief overview of a complex process, but we have many resources to help you. Your colleagues can tell you more about the varied ways they have negotiated contracts with Johnston students, and the director is happy to talk to you throughout the process via email or by phone, x8602. The Johnston Registrar Teresa Area can also help, at x8339. We also go into more detail in the Johnston faculty handbook

What is the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies?

The University of Redlands’ faculty members have the distinct privilege of working at an institution that houses one of the oldest and longest-running experimental learning programs in the country: The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. In 1969, a group of faculty, students, and staff created an alternative learning environment at the University—a true living-learning community where students would be responsible for their own education. Though Johnston was once a college of its own, it is now fully integrated into the College of Arts and Sciences and is in fact one of the College’s largest academic programs. Today, some 200 talented and passionate Redlands students live and learn together in the Johnston complex, which includes two residence halls, faculty offices, a coffee house, classrooms, and kitchen community space. In consultation with faculty, students design their own academic concentrations, or “emphases”; additionally they write contracts for their courses and receive narrative evaluations in lieu of traditional grades.

As a fully integrated part of the University, Johnston affects all faculty members who work here. Because the University hires professors who value teaching, student-centered learning, and interdisciplinary ideas, all members of the CAS faculty are attractive to Johnston students. At some point or another, Johnston students will seek you out, eager to take the exciting classes you offer. As a result, you will want to know as much as you can about the Center, its educational philosophies, and its program structure. Below, we offer you a brief guide to the Center. Because we know that no handbook is a substitute for experience, we begin with “Fourteen Ways to Get Involved in Johnston,” which we hope will encourage you to become a part of one of the most innovative University programs in the country.

Fourteen Ways to Get Involved In Johnston

  1. Participate in GYST Curriculum Building: Held twice a year, GYST (Get Your Stuff Together) curriculum building is an excellent way for faculty to introduce themselves to Johnston students. Whether you will be teaching an upcoming Johnston seminar, would like to teach a Johnston seminar in the future, or simply want to announce your classes and expertise to Johnston students, GYST curriculum building is an optimum space to identify yourself as a Johnston affiliated and friendly faculty. There are also a number of different opportunities to meet students throughout the event.
  2. Teach a Johnston Seminar: A Johnston center seminar is specifically created for Johnston students, though all CAS students are welcome to enroll. The course does not appear in the University catalog, but it will appear in the schedule of classes. It is a “contracted” course that must be taken for narrative evaluation (EV in the class schedule). Johnston seminars come to fruition in a number of ways. Sometimes, they evolve quickly, with students organizing themselves around a desired course topic and seeking out a professor to teach it. Other times, courses evolve out of GYST curriculum building, where students and faculty come together to pitch class ideas and assess interest. But classes are often created without advanced interest on the part of students. Faculty interested in teaching an exciting interdisciplinary topic as a Johnston seminar should not feel deterred if student interest is hard to ascertain at GYST. There are other models for garnering student interest in courses, including talking to students currently enrolled in your courses, advertising them at community meetings and events, or pitching them in flyers. You may also want to consult with a Johnston mentor about the kinds of courses that are likely to succeed in the program. If you are interested in teaching a Johnston seminar, arrange with the Johnston Director and your chair to set aside time in your load. The Johnston Director will arrange with the registrar to list the class in the Schedule of Courses.
  3. Participate in Contract Committee Meetings: Traditionally, in their sophomore year, Johnston students write their individual graduation plan or “graduation contract,” which organizes their completed courses into a concentration and breadth listing. In order to get this contract approved, the student and the advisor take the contract to a “Contract Committee” meeting. This is an excellent way to serve the needs of the program as well as learn about its negotiated curriculum. An explanation of the formal structure of Contract Committee meetings and our expectations for the negotiation process appears on page 9.
  4. Participate in a Graduation Review: Graduation Review meetings are almost always a delight. Its true that the Committee has an official function—it must pass the Graduation Contract’s completion. But in practice, virtually all difficulties are taken care of before the committee meets. The Committee is really designed to celebrate the graduating student’s career at Johnston. The student invites faculty and peers to be on the committee, and these committee members take turns asking questions and telling stories about the student’s Johnston career. Like the Contract Committee meeting, Graduation Reviews have a formal structure, run by a convener. First the advisor reads an approximately one page Precis of the student’s file, which offers an objective summary of the student’s narrative evaluation. The registrar then comments on the student’s file. Thirdly, the student has an opportunity to speak before the meeting is opened up to committee and community members. Graduation Reviews almost always end with food and festivity!
  5. Teach a Johnston First Year Seminar: Once you’ve taught a Johnston course or two and learn more about the program, you may want to consider teaching a Johnston First Year Seminar, which is sometimes collaboratively taught. A year in advance, arrange with your chair to set aside time to teach the course and speak with the Johnston Director to get the course on the books. As you will become the advisor for these students, it is strongly encouraged that you find a Johnston mentor with in-depth experience of the program and Johnston student advising.
  6. Advise a Johnston Student: Johnston students’ first advisor is their FYS professor, but once they find their area of concentration, many students choose advisors from across the University. Because advising a Johnston student requires faculty members to familiarize themselves with all the components of the Program, it’s a fantastic way to learn about and participate in Johnston. See the section on Advising for detailed information.
  7. Co-teach with a Johnston Student or Sponsor a Student Taught Course: Student taught and Student-Faculty co-facilitated courses are longstanding traditions of the Johnston program. Sponsoring student led courses and/or co-teaching with students can be truly rewarding experiences for both the student and the faculty member but can go quickly awry without proper planning and communication. Before agreeing to either of these commitments, ask yourself the following questions: How well do I know the student? How competent is the student on the topic? Can the student take on the responsibility of teaching his or her peers? Will the student take on equal responsibility in a co-taught course? Can I commit the time to prepare the student for teaching? How will I make sure the student writes evaluations? How can I help the student learn pedagogy as well as content? If you agree to sponsor a student led course, you and student should follow these guidelines: The student should write a proposal to the Director that contains the class title, the learning objects and proposed content, methods of learning, resources, basis for evaluating learning outcomes, and the role of the faculty sponsor. 
    • Faculty members are expected to work with the student for a semester prior to the time of their teaching to prepare for the course.
    • Typically, a student enrolls in an Individualized Study with you to prepare the class.
    • The Director of the program will consult with the faculty member and schedule the course with the registrar. • The student should write a “teaching contract” during the semester of his or her teaching. This contract should outline all of the student’s responsibilities for the course, including their writing of the student evaluations, the role of the faculty sponsor, and how they each would like to be evaluated.
    • Both the student facilitator and faculty sponsor must sign course contracts. In addition to attending the first and last class, we expect the faculty sponsor to occasionally meet with the class throughout the semester.
    • Evaluations: faculty member and student both sign the evaluation. It is the faculty member’s job to make sure the student is being responsible when writing evaluations for their peers.
  8. Sponsor a Student’s Individualized Study or Internship: You will be asked, and asked, and asked to sponsor Individualized Studies (Johnston version of an independent study) and internships. We strongly discourage Individualized Studies in introductory work or in topics that are taught in seminars. Since individualized studies are not counted “in load,” we understand that there is a limit to the number that you can sponsor. If you do decide to work with a student in such a capacity, we strongly encourage you to work with the student early on to discuss both of your expectations vis-à-vis meeting times, reading lists, and criteria for evaluation. Students should provide you with an Individualized study contract. Alternately, some students will ask you to sponsor internships or other comparable experiential learning. Your evaluation of the student depends on what the students’ internship supervisor sends you so be sure that the student has clearly established the expectations for their evaluation with both their internship and with you.
  9. Work with a Student on their Senior Project: We do not require a senior project in Johnston, but a majority of Johnston students complete some version of a senior “capstone.” Some students may choose to work on this project through the Johnston Integrated Semester course, which meets once per week. Others may choose to complete this project through an Individualized Study (see page 11). In the case of the latter, the sponsoring faculty and student should enter into the contract with expectations clearly laid out. 
  10. Come to Weekly Community Meetings: Community meetings are held every Tuesday at 4:00 in the lobby of Holt. Though community meetings are often organized around students’ needs and concerns, faculty presence is always appreciated. Ranging from mundane to intense, these meetings are a great way to learn about the ebbs and flows of the students and the program. 
  11. Join the Johnston Academic Policy Committee (APC): This Johnston committee made up of faculty and students meets once a week to discuss any and all matters pertaining to the academic and community components of the program. Faculty interested in sitting on this committee should attend monthly University wide APC gatherings and consult the Director of the program regarding the best way to prepare themselves for this University and programmatic service.
  12. Participate in Community Life: Not ready to get dive in but want to get your feet wet? Feel free to participate in any one of the community events on our calendar, from the Kathryn Green Lectures and open monthly APC meetings to community meetings to senior commencement. 
  13. Get on the Jiffie Email List: “Johnston Intensive Faculty,” or Jiffies receive weekly invitations to such events as Contract Committee meetings, open APC meetings, and GYST. Ask our Administrative Assistant to place you on the list.
  14. Find a Johnston Mentor: The best way to learn about Johnston is through experience, but it doesn’t hurt to find a good guide or mentor to help you navigate your way. Johnston has many seasoned faculty members happy to answer your questions, point you in the right directions, and offer friendly advice. See our list of mentors at the end of the handbook.

What happens when Johnston students take non-Johnston courses?

In the last section, we suggested that one of the best ways to get involved in the Johnston Program is to teach a Johnston seminar. But even if you don’t plan to do this for a while, Johnston students, who take the same courses as regular CAS students, will find you! You may find several Johnston students enrolled in your course at any given time. There is no guarantee what a Johnston student will bring to your CAS course. They may bring a whole different level of discourse to the class discussion or blend in with the larger student body. However, if your course is listed as EV in the course schedule, there are two things you can be almost certain of: they will write a “course contract” for you class and require a “narrative evaluation” instead of a grade at the end of the semester. In return, students are expected to write a faculty evaluation. Below is a summary of each.

Course Contracts: Johnston supports an individualized contract model of education. Writing course contracts means that students will negotiate course content with professors and identify their learning goals. Some faculty members worry that students will come in and ask to completely disregard their well-crafted syllabi. This is hardly ever the case. In most instances, seasoned Johnston students will ask if they can incorporate their academic interests into the course, either through reading, writing, or creative works. For example, a Johnston student with an emphasis in journalism may ask to write journalistic pieces on your course’s topic as their writing requirement, or to research how the class topic is represented in popular journalism. Often times, however, Johnston students may ask to simply “follow the syllabus.” This is particularly the case for incoming first year students who are still somewhat unsure of the process. We strongly discourage students from doing so. For students who want to follow the course’s exact guidelines, which is fine, we ask them to at least identify their learning goals in the course contract. For example, a student who has difficulty during discussion might want to contract to work on this over the course of the semester. These contracts are important, as they provide the basis by which the faculty member will evaluate the student.

Narrative Evaluations (EV): Students with course contracts on file for your CAS class will receive narrative evaluations at the end of the semester. Evaluations should be written within six weeks after the conclusion of the course, in accordance with the schedule provided by the Registrar’s office. As evaluations are necessary for the transcript and for the Advisor to write a Precis, this deadline is firm. Evaluations critique the student’s performance throughout the semester. Though they are primarily read by students and advisors during the student’s academic career, evaluations become part of the student’s transcript and, as such, are read by multiple audiences—graduate school committees and future employers. It is important to keep this multiple audience in mind when writing the evaluation. In terms of the actual writing, faculty members should use the “course contract” as a starting point. Additionally, each student who contracts for a course is required to write a self-evaluation for that course. If they are written on time and honestly, they will help you in your evaluation process. Self-evaluations can also be cited in your evaluation so that the student’s voice is heard. Evaluations should include notes about progress, projects/presentations, exams/finals, and participation. They should take into account any changes made to the syllabus by the student as well as any incomplete work the student failed to address. Please remember that evaluations are meant to be critiques. As with any critique, both the strengths and the weaknesses need highlighting. We do not write evaluations for incompletes. And, if a student fails the contract, they fail the class, which is all that needs to be registered in the evaluation.

Faculty Evaluation: Johnston students are expected to write narrative evaluations of faculty members in all classes. In a non-Johnston course, they may also complete the standard form. Some students feel comfortable enough to hand your evaluation directly to you, but most deliver them to the Johnston Administrative Assistant who sends them up to Administration for your Faculty Review File. Some students need prompting to write these evaluations, so feel free to incorporate evaluation writing time into your classes and to write your expectations for the faculty evaluations into the syllabus and course contract.

Advising Johnston Students Over Four Years

Since negotiating one’s education is at the heart of Johnston Center pedagogy, advising Johnston students can be more unpredictable—and more time consuming—than the advising we do for other CAS students. Johnston faculty members not only help students learn about interdisciplinary learning, they also teach students how to become “Johnston students.” What follows is a guide to advising Johnston students. The “Chronological” section offers a quick look at the key elements of Johnston advising across four years, while the subsequent sections explain some of these elements in greater detail. For further explanation, please consult a Johnston faculty mentor.

Chronological Trajectory

  •  First Year: In their first year, Johnston students take a Johnston FYS. Faculty teaching first year seminars also serve as academic advisors and play a crucial role in explaining the overall academic process in Johnston, particularly how to negotiate courses through the contracting process, which can bquite mysterious for incoming students. 
  • Second Year: Most Johnston students will write their individual graduation plans as sophomores and, at that point, organize their completed courses into concentration, breadth, and cross cultural experience. Contract writing is daunting for some students, and they may request several consultations with their advisors before they get a draft ready for the Committee. Once a contract is ready, the advisor signs it and the student takes the contract and your schedule to the Johnston Administrative Assistant so that s/he can schedule a Contract Committee meeting. Importantly, it is crucial that any student who might go abroad through the University sponsored study abroad program get started on the contract in September. Committee meetings take place from October to April. 
  • Third Year: If sophomore year advising goes well, many of your advisees will be studying abroad during all or part of their third year, and you will hear from them over email. Once they return, they often need guidance about Johnston “re-entry” and advice on how to get back on their academic course. 
  • Graduating Seniors: All seniors need you to help them complete their passage out of Johnston. Seniors must rewrite their Graduation Contract and schedule a “grad check” meeting with the Johnston registrar between January and March in order to go over their contracts and arrange for official changes to their transcript. They need you to read their re-written and revised narratives and to remind them to file an addendum, which records any changes that occurred in the contract. After that initial meeting with the registrar, seniors schedule Graduation Review Meetings for the spring semester. For each advisee’s Graduation Review, the advisor will write a Precis that objectively summarizes the student’s evaluations. In addition to this sort of advising, it is possible that you will play a role in senior projects. 
  • Internal Transfers: CAS students may ask you about transferring into Johnston. We accept a small number of “internal transfers” per year. Interested students should call the Associate Director of Johnston to start the interview and application processes. Importantly, Johnston is not a “refuge” for a CAS student who is merely trying to avoid a low GPA and LAF requirements.

Graduation Contracts

A Johnston graduation contract has three parts: a narrative, a chronological course listing, and course listing by concentration. The contract seeks a balance between several contending pressures: student wishes, committee expectations for breadth and depth of study, upper and lower division work, and the different understandings of what the larger world will look for in college graduates. However the individual contracts shape up, we urge every advisor and candidate to look upon the contract presented as a draft, rather as a document set in stone and to come to the meeting with an open mind about changes. At their best, Graduation Contract Committee Meetings are like large advising sessions in which half a dozen people work together to produce the best possible plan for the student.

  • The Narrative: While narratives have a specific audience—the Graduation Contract Committee—and ideally should be written to this group, there is no formalized structure to the narratives. They are as individualized as their proposed emphases and therefore take many shapes. Some students address their educational histories, provide personal histories, and discuss their reasons for “going Johnston” in the first place. However, all should provide a rationale for the interdisciplinary concentration proposed. Since there’s a strong expectation that Johnston graduates will have a cross cultural experience, a proposal for that should also be included. Many contracts also include tentative plans and a schedule for a Senior Project. Finally, the Committee needs to know something about each student’s postgraduate goals, even if these goals are unknown. 
  • The Lists: The Committee asks for two different course listings because no single array can give a complete map of the student’s plan. The chronological list lets the committee see the proposed development of the student’s education; the list by discipline or interdisciplinary areas makes clear the coherence of the concentration and its connection to the ancillary, “breadth” courses that surround it. Students should make sure that they use accurate course titles and record any number of units earned/anticipated. Sometimes students may be unsure about which precise courses will work best for later stages of their plan. It’s fine to have slightly vague proposals for these, “two upper division economic courses,” for example. We strongly encourage students to take a minimum of one JNST course per semester.

The Contract Committee Meeting

The graduation contract is the single most important negotiation Johnston students complete. In this process, students identify and plan an individualized interdisciplinary education. Johnston students typically negotiate this contract as sophomores; they are at a formative stage in their education, and there is much they want to learn about. We don’t expect them to have a full understanding of the course of study they imagine for themselves. This is not a Ph.D. defense. We want to honor the educational plan a student crafts by providing them an opportunity – in writing and in conversation with us – to improve that plan. To that end, please be open to the case a student makes and embrace their creative visions. By all means, look for ways to improve the contract, but please resist the urge to substitute the contract you might prefer for the one that is before you. Don’t privilege your discipline before the student’s interests. Since the contract committee meeting has no direct analogue outside of Johnston, here we offer a description of the committee structure and our expectations on how negotiate and evaluate contracts. Committee Structure: The committee consists of two Johnston students with contracts already on file, at least three faculty members, and the Johnston registrar. One of the faculty members is the convener and is responsible for running the meeting. The meetings have a set order. First the advisor introduces the student to the Committee members, who have already studied the proposal. The registrar then comments on the completion of the file. Third, the student may give a short introduction to the contract. The convener then opens the meeting to committee members’ questions and comments, and the discussion follows. An effectively run Johnston contract meeting typically lasts 45 minutes. At the end, the Committee has several options. Most commonly, the members pass the contract unanimously in a consensus decision. They do so after two kinds of changes have been negotiated: stipulations, or required changes in the proposal, and suggestions, ideas for the student and their advisee to consider as they fine tune the approved contract over the next two years. In some instances, however, the Committee may feel that the overall idea is a sound one but that the actual workings of the plan are not. They may then approve the plan “in principle,” and ask the student and advisor to return after they have reworked the proposal. Our expectations for content and some questions we ask to evaluate contracts: 

  • How effectively has this student made a case for the individualized education we have promised to help them achieve through the Johnston Center? This should be clear from the narrative and from the presumably unique combinations of classes that the student proposes. Does the narrative communicate student reflection on or enthusiasm for the course of study? 
  • Our students choose a variety of ways to express themselves in the written narration. Does the style of writing serve as a strong example of the student’s thinking at this stage in her educational process? You may want to write comments on your copy of the contract and give it to the student and advisor to consider. Everyone rewrites this narrative as a senior. 
  • Does the contract have the structural features we need: a narrative, course listing by chronology, course listing by concentration and breadth? Has the student accounted for an integrated or interdisciplinary concentration? 
  • Our students are not required to meet LAF designations. We ask instead that our students will “address the liberal arts,” which we construe broadly. Students make a case for their unique “breadth” just as they do for their concentrations. Committee members typically look for some combination of departmental and interdisciplinary classes that study humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics or quantitative reasoning, creative expression, foreign languages and cross-cultural immersion. The student might want to make a case for unique categories. Do they make sense? 
  • Courses are not counted in more than one listing under concentration and breadth. But interdisciplinary study may lead the student to link concentration and breadth by selecting courses that are most meaningful to them. Can we help them make those links? 
  • Is a senior project proposed? What might we suggest about community service? What kinds of experiential learning – i.e. internships – might be appropriate? 
  • If the student has identified a particular career path, are there specific classes, internships, and/or “certifications” they need to consider? 
  • Does this contract include study through Johnston seminars and a commitment to learning through contracts and narrative evaluations? If not, should the student continue in Johnston? 
  • Has the student addressed participation in the Johnston community? 
  • Is there enough time to negotiate this contract? We need a minimum of three semesters to negotiate with a student – preferably more. Students will return to committee as seniors to review how well they have met their learning goals. Will a student achieve a minimum of 128 units?

The Graduation Review and Precis

In their senior year, Johnston students are not only working to fulfill the stipulations and suggestions outlined at their sophomore Contract Committee Meeting, they are also working towards their official Graduation Review, in which the advisor plays a big role. The most important things you can do for your senior advisees are to review their file with them and urge them to start the administrative process. The first step is to encourage them to rewrite their contracts to reflect any changes in their educational trajectories. The rewritten graduation narratives are often different than the contract written in the sophomore year in that they are now written with the outside world in mind. Once the contract is rewritten, students will want to fill out an official Addendum form, available in the Johnston Administrative Office. Addendum forms, which all Johnston students use, record any changes in your advisee’s contract based on project courses that weren’t offered, foreign universities’ rescheduling of a student’s program, or student wishes to change classes. Students must have their Addendums signed by their advisors and the Johnston Director. Following this, the student will have an official “Grad Check” with the Registrar, in which s/he goes over the file point by point with the student, noting any unfulfilled stipulations or uncompleted courses in the work completed to date. As the advisor, your formal responsibility at the Grad Review is to present an approximately one-page draft (“Precis”) of the student’s file, which you will read and/or distribute at the meeting. We say draft because your advisee or committee members may ask for changes (usually these involve achievements that you forgot to include). The Precis offers a summary of the narrative evaluations, describes the patterns of trajectory you see in your student’s career and makes mention of any important extra-curricular achievements. The Precis becomes part of the official transcript and is the first thing that readers of the hefty Johnston transcript encounter.

Senior Projects and Integrated Study

One of the tasks advisors perform is help their students decide if they want to do a senior project and how best to do it. We do not require a senior project in Johnston, but a majority of students complete some version of a senior capstone. An excellent way for students to work on these projects is by enrolling in Integrated Semester. The Integrated Semester allows students to create a curriculum that is not bound by the restraints of established classes and calendars. Over either one semester or two, students integrate independent studies, experiential learning (such as internships), and formal course work, with a unit value ranging from 8 to 12 units. The goal of the semester’s work is the completion of a major research or creative project. Students interested in Integrated Semester apply to a screening committee, must have a graduation contract on file, demonstrate evidence of successful individualized learning, and have an endorsement from their advisor. Integrated Semester meets weekly and is taught by a Johnston faculty member in-load.

Faculty Profiles and Contracts in Johnston

Because the Johnston Center is an “intentional community” where most members choose their own level of commitment, it is impossible to strictly define a profile for a “Johnston Intensive Faculty” (also known as Jiffie). Some faculty have codified their commitment to the Center through FYS teaching, service on the Academic Policy Committee, or regularly teaching in May term, while others are part of departments that have made longstanding commitments to offer Johnston seminars every year. We encourage faculty to negotiate and put into writing their own Johnston contracts with the Center Director and their departments. A Johnston profile and contract will help the faculty members develop an expanded teaching repertoire, which is an important aspect of faculty development. Contracts will also help departments better identify resource needs and plan for the future. When significant service to Johnston is accurately recorded and appreciated for purposes of promotion, tenure, and review, it “counts” as major University service (that is, equal to service on major governance committees). Moreover, the Johnston Center also benefits by bringing new talented individuals and ideas into the program. If you are interested in a Johnston Faculty Contract, please consult the Director and your department.

Miscellaneous and FAQS

Can Evaluations be “translated” into grades? The majority of Johnston students who go on to professional schools and graduate programs do so without the translation of evaluations into grades. On the rare occasion when a school requires a letter grade, we provide that service by asking faculty (or the Director if the faculty isn’t available) to read their past evaluations and then provide a grade. We provide this service after a student graduates or if a student is transferring, and only after a formal request has been made to the Johnston registrar. We do not officially translate grades for students who are currently enrolled, although we can provide an unofficial G.P.A. for grants, military, insurance companies, or scholarships. A student who needs this kind of verification must first request a translation through the Registrar’s Office. The Director will then read evaluations to provide the necessary information. Can Johnston students get Honors? 

  • Latin Honors: Because they lack the G.P.A. on which Latin honors are predicated, Johnston students do not qualify for them. This rule on Latin honors is long standing in Johnston where our commitment to individualized contract based education argues against honors that are based on competitive measures inherent to a graded assessment system. 
  • Phi Beta Kappa: Because this type of Honors emphasizes the equal importance of breadth and excellence in the liberal arts, Johnston students are eligible to achieve it. 
  • Department Honors: Each department decides if they want to allow Johnston students to compete for honors and this depends on their requirements for G.P.A. or course sequencing. Interested students should inquire directly to individual departments. Can students opt out of the Cross-cultural component of a Johnston education? In rare instances, students may have good reason for not accumulating cross-cultural experience and will make their case to the contract committee. If the committee agrees with the student’s case, the student must write an essay about cross-cultural learning that must be approved by the Director. Do Johnston Students have to fulfill the Liberal Arts Foundation requirements? No. As a program where students individualize their educational course of study, there are no official LAF requirements. However, in their Graduation Contracts, Johnston students are asked to address the liberal arts within an interdisciplinary context. For more information on this policy and philosophy, see the section on Graduation Contracts (page 9). Are Johnston students subject to the same standards of Academic Dishonesty, Warning, Probation and Disqualification? Yes. Cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty issues in Johnston are reported in accordance with University policy. Please do not write the case up in the evaluation until the situation is resolved and then be mindful that confidential academic actions do not belong in a public document. What does on-complex mean? The term refers to the Johnston buildings “Bekins” and “Holt”. Bachelor of Science and Art Majors: Students seeking to negotiate a graduation contract with a Bachelor of Science must have a science faculty member on their graduation committee. Similarly, those students with a concentration in art are expected to have someone from the Art Department on their committee. Music Emphasis: Johnston students who anticipate a serious emphasis in Music are asked to consult with a member of the School of Music.

Faculty Profiles and Contracts in Johnston

Because the Johnston Center is an “intentional community” where most members choose their own level of commitment, it is impossible to strictly define a profile for a “Johnston Intensive Faculty” (also known as Jiffie). Some faculty have codified their commitment to the Center through FYS teaching, service on the Academic Policy Committee, or regularly teaching in May term, while others are part of departments that have made longstanding commitments to offer Johnston seminars every year. We encourage faculty to negotiate and put into writing their own Johnston contracts with the Center Director and their departments. A Johnston profile and contract will help the faculty members develop an expanded teaching repertoire, which is an important aspect of faculty development. Contracts will also help departments better identify resource needs and plan for the future. When significant service to Johnston is accurately recorded and appreciated for purposes of promotion, tenure, and review, it “counts” as major University service (that is, equal to service on major governance committees). Moreover, the Johnston Center also benefits by bringing new talented individuals and ideas into the program. If you are interested in a Johnston Faculty Contract, please consult the Director and your department.

Johnston Mentors

The following faculty members and staff are willing to answer any questions you might have about working with Johnston students and teaching in the Johnston program. 

  • Teresa Area, Johnston Registrar
  • Pat Geary, Professor of English and Creative Writing 
  • Eric Hill, Assistant Professor of Physics 
  • Daniel Kiefer, Associate Professor of English 
  • Kelly Hankin, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, Johnston Center 
  • Penny McElroy, Professor of Art and Art History 
  • Kathy Ogren, Professor of History 
  • Fred Rabinowitz, Professor of Psychology 
  • Greg Salyer, Director of the Johnston Center 
  • Sarah Schoonmaker, Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology 
  • Julie Townsend, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Johnston Center 
  • Pat Wasielewski, Professor of Sociology/Women’s Studies 
  • Deborah Weis, Associate Director of Johnston 
  • Ed Wingenbach, Associate Professor of Government

Miscellaneous and FAQS

Do graduate schools and employers accept narrative evaluations?

Yes. With over forty years of narrative evaluations for our students, we find that graduate schools and employers actually appreciate having more detail about students performance in classes and regularly accept these transcripts.

Can Evaluations be “translated” into grades?

The majority of Johnston students who go on to professional schools and graduate programs do so without the translation of evaluations into grades. On the rare occasion when a school requires a letter grade, we provide that service by asking faculty (or the Director if the faculty isn’t available) to read their past evaluations and then provide a grade. We provide this service after a student graduates or if a student is transferring, and only after a formal request has been made to the Johnston registrar. We do not officially translate grades for students who are currently enrolled, although we can provide an unofficial G.P.A. for grants, military, insurance companies, or scholarships. A student who needs this kind of verification must first request a translation through the Registrar’s Office. The Director will then read evaluations to provide the necessary information.

Can Johnston students get Honors?

* Latin Honors: Because they lack the G.P.A. on which Latin honors are predicated, Johnston students do not qualify for them. This rule on Latin honors is long standing in Johnston where our commitment to individualized contract based education argues against honors that are based on competitive measures inherent to a graded assessment system.

* Phi Beta Kappa: Because this type of Honors emphasizes the equal importance of breadth and excellence in the liberal arts, Johnston students are eligible to achieve it.

* Department Honors: Each department decides if they want to allow Johnston students to compete for honors and this depends on their requirements for G.P.A. or course sequencing. Interested students should inquire directly to individual departments.

Can students opt out of the Cross-cultural component of a Johnston education?

In rare instances, students may have good reason for not accumulating cross-cultural experience and will make their case to the contract committee. If the committee agrees with the student’s case, the student must write an essay about cross-cultural learning that must be approved by the Director.

Do Johnston Students have to fulfill the Liberal Arts Foundation requirements?

No. As a program where students individualize their educational course of study, there are no official LAF requirements. However, in their Graduation Contracts, Johnston students are asked to address the liberal arts within an interdisciplinary context. For more information on this policy and philosophy, see the section on Graduation Contracts (page 9).

Are Johnston students subject to the same standards of Academic Dishonesty, Warning, Probation and Disqualification?

Yes. Cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty issues in Johnston are reported in accordance with University policy. Please do not write the case up in the evaluation until the situation is resolved and then be mindful that confidential academic actions do not belong in a public document.

What does on-complex mean?

The term refers to the Johnston buildings “Bekins” and “Holt”.

Bachelor of Science and Art Majors: Students seeking to negotiate a graduation contract with a Bachelor of Science must have a science faculty member on their graduation committee. Similarly, those students with a concentration in art are expected to have someone from the Art Department on their committee.

Music Emphasis: Johnston students who anticipate a serious emphasis in Music are asked to consult with a member of the School of Music.

The Précis

Writing the Senior Précis for a Johnston Advisee

Some of you will be working closely with Johnston senior-advisees in preparation for their appearance before the Graduation Review Committee. One of the duties of faculty advisor is to prepare a draft précis of the advisee's college performance, and to have it approved by the Graduate Review Committee at the time of its meeting with the student. This memo is to provide you with some helpful ideas about writing a précis. 

  1. The précis is a one-page (approximately) narrative and evaluative statement that serves as an official summary of the student's undergraduate education. It is an integral part of the student's permanent record, and one of several types of documents that constitute the student's academic transcripts.
  2. Although there is no rigid format to which all précis are expected to conform, it should contain information about (1) student's residency (including status changes, i.e., transfer to Johnston, leave of absence, etc.); (2) area of emphasis; (3) quantitative aspects of student's performance and curricular characteristics "(e.g., the number of graded courses vs. that of evaluated courses, if appropriate; GPA where applicable; course distribution; etc.); (4) any prominent aspects of student's education as a whole including non-academic activities, off-campus internships, etc.; and (5) a summary of course evaluations. 
  3. Writing a précis is an interesting and enjoyable challenge as you attempt to narrative and summarize for an external audience a Johnston student's unique path. The procedure typically involves: (1) reading chronologically all the evaluations in one sitting; (2) searching for a pattern, either developmental or learning characteristics (strengths and weaknesses); (3) searching for unique elements or consistencies; and (4) identifying most pertinent quotable phrases to illustrate these. 
  4. Some of the Do's and Don'ts of writing course evaluations apply to précis writing. For example, avoid psychologizing; avoid negative comparisons; minimize editorializing; avoid sermonizing; avoid personal remarks. (These are rather hard Do's to follow.) 
  5. The précis is not a recommendation letter. It is the University's official summary of the quantity and quality of student's education in relation to the graduation contract.

Below is a sample précis. Please contact the director or any Johnston faculty if you have questions. We are happy to help.

Johnston Center for Integrative Studies 
University of Redlands 
Transcript Précis

Jane Obama

Jane Obama enrolled in the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands in the fall of 2005. She graduates in the spring of 2009 with an emphasis titled Social Justice: People, Education, and the Environment. Every course but one (1st Year Spanish for 4 units) was taken for narrative evaluation giving her a cumulative GPA of 4.0.

Jane took full advantage of the Johnston Center's opportunities for self-designed education in community and constructed an emphasis that integrates studies in people, education, and the environment through the lens of social justice and includes cross-cultural and experiential learning in unique and significant ways. Her undergraduate work includes courses in Race and Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies, Religion, Government, Spanish, and a number of Johnston seminars that are pertinent to her emphasis, such as Leading Organizational Transformation, Commodification and Fusion of Culture, Steinbeck and the Environment, and Integrated Semester in Oaxaca, which is an intensive, sixteen-unit course entailing study and experiential learning in Mexico and Guatemala. Jane also took six independent studies courses on topics such as South African Studies, Connecting with the Earth, South American Economics, and Working Toward a More Sustainable Community.

In their narrative evaluations, Jane’s professors detail her educational journey in terms such as “expressive,” “honest,” “impressive,” “active,” and “engaged.” These qualities were not all present at the beginning, however, and it is clear that she had to work hard to develop her own voice in class discussions and writing. In fact she recognized this need in herself right away, contracting in her First Year Seminar to “become more active and involved in discussions” and to “work on her writing and conversational skills.” In her course titled Leading Organizational Transformation, the professor writes: “In her self-evaluation, Jane discusses her difficulty with speaking at the beginning of class, but notes that by the middle she was much more comfortable participating in discussions. I agree with this assessment; she was able to address and move through her initial hesitancies stemming partly from being the only freshman in the class and having to make many adjustments to college life. What I really value about Jane’s experience in this area is that she used it to self-reflect on her own style of being in the world and leading. She is very aware of her strengths and of those things she wants to work on, and brought this to class discussions.” In her Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies class, the professor notes her frustrations with the lack of engagement of her peers and content that seemed repetitive at times. He notes, however, that “Jane made concerted efforts to participate and to encourage the participation of others. She consistently raised questions and issues for discussion during the opening agenda-building time . . . and contributed regularly to class discussions, often challenging her peers to think more deeply about issues.” This pattern of frustration followed by deeper engagement carries through her undergraduate career and becomes almost a learning style for her. For example, in her course titled Biodiversity, the professor writes: “Jane did an excellent job in this class. She came to every class meeting having not only done all the readings but very prepared to engage in discussion. In this particular course, discussion was lively with students arguing adamantly about their stance on conservation issues. Jane was often in the minority in the discussions but was none-the-less willing to put forth her well-thought-out point of view and defend her positions. Jane had little previous knowledge of the material in this course and of all of the students in the class, I think she gained the most due to her own efforts. I applaud these efforts especially because the morale in the classroom was often lacking, yet she kept her own morale high and had an excellent understanding of the material by the end of the semester.”

As she grows into her emphasis, Jane’s evaluations show a maturation that is born of self-reflection and an emerging self-discipline. For her Global Environment course, the professor notes that Jane was one of the most “consistently engaged and prepared students in the class. . . . Her capacity and interest in expressing her views helped to make for a lively and thoughtful class discussion, but she was never overbearing or presumptuous.” For Integrated Semester in Oaxaca, Jane downplayed her role in the living/learning community dimension of the course, but the professor saw more at work: “She was one of the experienced Johnston students and did help some of the others who were less familiar with the process of contracting to do their best. She was a main catalyst and major author of our Peer Contract. She was the person who I felt best articulated and explained to others the role of community. In this respect I saw her as the heart of the Johnston community spirit. I saw her go out of her way several times to try to assure good group dynamics . . . whether it worked or not did not matter. Her effort was noted and appreciated. I think Jane was a major positive force in the group and modeled a level of maturity I wish more of the others had taken to heart. I very much enjoyed having her as a member of the group.”

The Oaxaca evaluation strikes a chord that sounds through Jane’s tenure at the Johnston Center. She is the consummate community member and creates community where none or little existed before. That it appears in an evaluation for an intensive study abroad course is not surprising either since Jane is not content to study within the comfort of her own space; she wants to engage the world, to put herself in uncomfortable situations, and to experience otherness and difference. She does these things because she has learned how she learns, and while, according to some of the evaluations, she does not always fulfill her potential, she does put herself in a position to be educated by the people and environment around her. So to add to the terms that describe Jane’s work at the Johnston Center, we should add “educable,” “self-reflective,” “passionate” about people, education, and the environment and “dedicated” to the achievement of social justice in the worlds in which she travels.


Design through Math
Appleton Hall

The back of the University of Redlands own Appleton Hall contains a mathematically designed ‘Echo Chamber’ that uses calculated angles to refract sound.

Read More »