Experiential learning should be required

CFANS’ new policy exposes students to real-world applications of their education.

The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences has implemented changes to its curriculum that include relaxing credit requirements and promoting “experiential learning,” the Minnesota Daily reported last month.

Despite the possibility of a merger with the College of Biological Sciences, CFANS seems intent to further define itself as a unique college and give its students greater access to relevant and distinctive learning opportunities.

It can often be difficult for students to keep on track to graduation — fulfilling major requirements — and still have a meaningful studying abroad or internship experience. CFANS’ new policy stresses the importance of these experiences — its added flexibility to major requirements as well as the addition of 20 new classes, most of which will be interdisciplinary, will give students a broader learning experience.

Each major at the University of Minnesota is unique, and some departments necessarily have a stricter set of prerequisites. However, CFANS has recognized that incorporating internship and studying abroad experiences into required curricula can actually make students’ academic lives easier and their education more enriched. It would allow them to receive credit for an opportunity they were going to take anyway, or it would open up space in their graduation timeline for them to pursue those opportunities.

Experiential learning is becoming more common and valuable in higher education — and to future employers. By incorporating a flexible program of required experiential learning opportunities, like CFANS has, other colleges at the University can follow this example to help students find their niche in their careers and in the world.