Johnston Center for Integrative Studies

The Director
Julie Townsend

The Faculty*
Kelly Hankin
Tim Seiber
Julie Townsend

* The great majority of faculty members active in the Johnston program are based in the departments of the College. A full list is available from the Director.

The Program 
Aided by a founding grant from James Graham Johnston, in 1969 the University of Redlands established an experimental cluster college designed to combine high-quality education with minimal formality. The new institution attempted to free the educational process from the influences of departmentalism, numerical transcripts, traditional faculty status, and fixed graduation requirements.

As a result of administrative reorganization, in fall 1979 Johnston College became the Johnston Center for Individualized Learning within the College of Arts and Sciences, and in 1995 the name was changed to the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. It continues to offer alternative modes of teaching and learning within a liberal arts context. Johnston draws its faculty from the entire University and invites the participation of all students.

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 a 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, in the graduation contract/review process, and in the integrated administrative, classroom, and living space of the Johnston Complex (Bekins and Holt Halls), the home of the Johnston Center.

Learning outcomes for the Johnston program may be found at

Course and Contract Systems

A Johnston Center course involves the following:
1. At the beginning of each course, students and instructor negotiate the course’s content, goals, and methodology.
2. Each student writes a course contract outlining the mutual expectations and activities to be completed. Both the student and instructor sign the contract, and it can be changed only by agreement. The contract forms the basis for the course and its evaluation.
3. Students actively participate in all aspects of the academic dialogue—including discussion of reading material, written and oral presentations, and performance or display of projects.
4. At the end of the course, each student writes an evaluation of his or her own performance and that of the instructor, as well as the group process and course organization. This self-evaluation also assists the instructor with his or her final evaluation of the student.

The instructor writes an evaluation of the student’s work, which appears verbatim in the student’s official transcript. A student may obtain a grade translation, but only if requested by a graduate or professional school for admission or by prospective employers.

In addition to identifying specific Johnston courses created at the Center, the Schedule of Classes always notes departmental courses of particular interest to Johnston students, courses that are geared to the Johnston educational process. Listing a course as open for negotiation in the schedule of classes means that the faculty member welcomes Johnston students for contract negotiation and is willing to write a narrative evaluation. Johnston students are encouraged to request a written evaluation from all their professors, although only faculty who agree to course contracts are required to provide one. Johnston courses are available to all University of Redlands students to negotiate for narrative evaluation; similarly, University of Redlands students can negotiate a contract in any College of Arts and Sciences course open for narrative evaluation.

Graduation Contracts
Those students specifically admitted to the Johnston program as first-year students or as internal transfers must negotiate a graduation contract. (See the Admission section on the next page.) Such graduation contracts are written with the help of a faculty advisor and include a narrative autobiographical statement, a list of completed and proposed courses, and a stated area of concentration with an integrative focus. Examples include such possibilities as the history of ideas, humanistic psychology, anthropology and environmental studies, film production and creative writing, neuroscience and visual media, and the economics of race and gender.

Each graduation contract entails a unique combination of Johnston and departmental classes, independent studies, and internships reflecting the individuality of the student’s personal and educational goals. The contract is legitimized through negotiation with and review by the Graduation Contract Committee. This Committee consists of a faculty convener, the Johnston registrar, students who already have accepted graduation contracts on file, and faculty members. Although there are no fixed graduation requirements, the Committee reviews the proposed contract to see that:

• the contract addresses the objectives of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Liberal Arts Inquiry;
• there is sufficient representative work taken in each of the broad areas of humanities, social sciences, quantitative reasoning, natural sciences, and creative arts;
• there is sufficient depth in the student’s area of concentration;
• the area of concentration is one in which the University of Redlands can provide appropriate faculty resources;
• the student addresses the relevance of this educational experience to his or her past and future;
• the student has included a provision for an in-depth cross-cultural experience. This expectation can be met by participating in one of the international programs offered by the University or by having the student create his or her own independent study involving the experience of being a minority in a majority culture.

Once the Committee approves a contract, the student is obliged to complete it as stated to be awarded the baccalaureate degree (B.A. or B.S.). If a contract must be revised, all changes are made in the form of a written addendum that must be approved by the Graduation Contract Committee and/or the Johnston Center Director. During the student’s last semester, a separate, similarly constituted body—the Graduation Review Committee—reviews the student’s work and, if the terms of the contract have been met, approves the student for graduation.

Johnston Center is a community of students and faculty who share educational ideals. Most students who intend to write or have written a graduation contract choose to live in Bekins or Holt Hall and consider themselves a cohesive unit. Periodic community meetings for business of general interest are traditional, and faculty and students thrive on interaction and mutual respect.

Courses taught in the Center change from year to year and are the product of varying student interests and faculty arrangements with individual departments. Planning for the coming year entails meetings of faculty and students, at which time proposed classes can be negotiated. The result is a collection of courses that spans the disciplines of the liberal arts in both traditional and non-traditional ways and includes lower- and upper-division offerings involving seminars (12 to 20 students), tutorials (two to five students), and independent studies.

The academic progress of Johnston students is monitored by the Director of the Center. Students who are experiencing academic difficulty are reviewed individually by the Center Director, who makes decisions regarding academic probation or disqualification. Criteria upon which such decisions are made include the quantity of work completed, the quality of work in both graded and evaluated courses, and the student’s demonstrated ability to complete a graduation contract. (See the paragraph entitled Undergraduate Academic Standing—Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in the Academic Standards chapter of the Catalog for details on how to appeal the decisions.)

Johnston students must have an approved graduation contract on file in the Registrar’s Office no later than the end of the sophomore year. Thus, four full semesters are open for further planning and innovation. The student’s transcript will consist of an official University cover sheet listing all courses by semester and including grades for those courses taken for grade, a précis written by the advisor, the student’s graduation contract (both the narrative and the course listings), and all narrative evaluations. Johnston students have no special difficulty in gaining admittance to graduate or professional schools or employment as a result of this narrative transcript format.

Johnston students are eligible to apply for departmental honors only. A student must complete an honors project or a capstone experience in accordance with established departmental standards and procedures. Johnston students may apply for interdisciplinary program honors (Proudian, Asian Studies, etc.). They also may be considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa. Because the honors (cum laude, etc.) are dependent upon cumulative GPAs, Johnston students are not eligible to apply for a program leading to those honors.

First-year student applicants who are interested in this program should fill out the Johnston Center Supplement as well as the regular University application form. Continuing students who are interested in an internal transfer should contact the Assistant Director of the Johnston Center during their first semester and no later than week two of the spring semester of their first year.

For working adults, Johnston’s individualized graduation contract plan has proven useful for those who have completed some work toward their bachelor’s degree and would like to finish it on a part- or full-time basis. Such students are often able to combine coursework done at other institutions with classes in Johnston Center and other departments to create a graduation plan compatible with their personal and professional goals.