Israa Khalifa

She/her/hers 
2020

Explain why you are interested in this position:

Critical thinking is extremely emphasized throughout our college mission statement and the intended learning outcomes for the majority of our classes. I believe that we need to have a campus-wide discussion on what does that mean? Are we as students actually able to achieve ‘critical thinking’ under the current curriculum? 
The American educationalist Daniel Willingham in a statement that resonates with how our curriculum is currently functioning, states that 
(Article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3200/AEPR.109.4.21-32):
“[I]f you remind a student to ‘look at an issue from multiple perspectives’ often enough, he will learn that he ought to do so, but if he doesn’t know much about an issue, he can’t think about it from multiple perspectives … critical thinking (as well as scientific thinking and other domain-based thinking) is not a skill. There is not a set of critical thinking skills that can be acquired and deployed regardless of context.”

This brings me to my second point; through our curriculum, we are able to touch the surface of a wide range of subject matters. We are able to ‘think critically’ and have an ‘interdisciplinary’ perspective on topics we discuss. For example, taking a class on Middle Eastern politics (fulling our MCG) entitle one to fallaciously think they have a full grasp of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. In other words, we become confident, yet ignorant. Does this raise further concerns with regard to our GEs intended learning outcomes? 

Intended learning outcomes for our classes, are very generic and do not take into consideration that students come from various disciplines, backgrounds etc. For example, a philosophy students intended learning outcome for an AQR is different than a Pre-Med student, hence the need for our classroom contents and learning materials to address this. We need to have more contextuality in mapping our own intended learning outcomes as students. With that in mind, we should aim to avoid running the risk of specialization or empty words of ‘interdisciplinary’ learning. 

These are a few of the reasons why I am interested in this position. I am hoping to open campus discussions on our entire learning experience. I am interested in hearing diverse student perspectives on what they think of our current curriculum.

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

My first two years at St. Olaf included a lot of courses in science and math department, I am now affiliated with the SOAN department, and I have had a significant number of courses in the social sciences and humanities. From that change, I have managed to reflect on my experience at both fields holistically. This will serve me well being in this position, for I am able to critically view areas where our curriculum is working, and point out areas where improvement is needed. 
Through various positions and involvement on campus, I have been able to effectively use and further develop my communication skills, which will assist me in providing a constructive space for student voices to be heard, and to communicate these voices to committee members who are in charge of developing our curriculum.


Saliem Hashel

She/Her/Hers
2021

Explain why you are interested in this position:

As stated on the St. Olaf College homepage for the Curriculum Committee, the board “oversees the curriculum of the college in light of its mission, aims, and intended outcomes for student learning and development”. These aims include creating objectives of what students should take out of their academic programs, the general education outcomes, and notably, their college experience at St. Olaf. Now, these are great sentiments to have when running a school, however, more importantly, who do you choose to create these goals for the students at St. Olaf? Obviously, professors and admin staff are selected to serve on the board, but where does your student representation come from? How do you know your student representative will cater to the concerns of their fellow classmates and scholars? I, Saliem Hashel, am interested in this position because I want to be given the chance to fight for my schoolmates and bring better transparency to the way that we make tough decisions on the Curriculum Committee. In recent years, I have noticed that we seem to have a communication lapse when it comes to the critical choices made at St. Olaf, so, on my end, I would like to do everything I can to resolve that. I am an extremely determined person and I don’t know when to quit, as it’s never really been my prerogative. I am driven and a hard worker, but I am also a great listener and take others ideas and arguments into consideration before arguing mine.

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

In terms of previous work and qualifications for this position, I am currently serving the 2018- 2019 school year as one of the Student Representatives of the Curriculum Committee, and have already had exposure to the duties and responsibilities that the position comes with. As a Student Representative, I have not only attended meetings but have also provided advice from a “student’s perspective” and have completed work that affects the St. Olaf student community. Within the Curriculum Committee, I am a member of the Continuing Programs Committee and work towards examining and improving the courses that St. Olaf provides, whether it be changing the content to become more relevant, or adapting to a new G.E. standard.


Bobby Isbell

He/Him/His
2021

Explain why you are interested in this position:

I would love the opportunity to serve as St. Olaf’s Curriculum Senator simply because I want to do whatever I can to improve life here at St. Olaf! Coming from a family of professors and teachers, education is something I have always been passionate about, and I would love to channel that passion into making St. Olaf a better place.

So please, send me your ideas!! Isbell4senate@gmail.com is an open channel to express your concerns about the curriculum here at St. Olaf. Whether you want a new class to be offered, or think the current GE system isn’t working, I will work as hard as I can to ensure all students’ needs are met. Go Oles!

What qualifications do you bring to this position?

Through my first 2 years of St. Olaf, I have had the opportunity to take on other leadership roles within the College. I am a member of Ole Leadership Academy, am a member of the St. Olaf Student Congregation Council, and am one of the two student representatives on the Advisory Council for the new Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community that will be opening on campus next fall. In addition, I was recently one of 16 students from around the country selected as a Mount Vernon Leadership Fellow for this summer, a 6-week summer institute at the home of our first President, George Washington. I believe all of these positions have prepared me for a role within the St. Olaf Student Government, and I would love to be a part of it!