The Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning, formerly USC Connect, leads the University of South Carolina’s comprehensive initiative to enhance undergraduate education and build a culture of integrative learning. The Center promotes student opportunities to engage beyond the classroom and synthesize and apply learning across experiences. Graduation with Leadership Distinction is the signature program of CIEL and recognizes students for significant engagement and learning, including leadership through solution-oriented thinking. We also encourage Experiential Learning for all undergraduate students. View the highlights of CIEL through our e-publication USC Connect: A Story of Success.
Our History and Ongoing Development
CIEL, formerly known as the title of the 2011 Quality Enhancement Plan, USC Connect, is grounded in the University’s mission to educate citizens through teaching, research, creative activity, and community engagement. The initiative flows from the university’s strategic planning process Focus Carolina and builds on the Carolina Core (i.e., general education). Faculty, staff, and students developed the initial plan for USC Connect over a 2-year period. The plan was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) as the University of South Carolina’s Quality Enhancement Plan [pdf] on December 6, 2011. Faculty, staff, and students throughout the UofSC Columbia, Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union campuses have been developing and implementing USC Connect, the QEP, since 2011.
A five-year report [pdf], on the impact of USC Connect from 2012-2016, was filed with SACSCOC March 2017. The University of South Carolina continues to be dedicated to providing structures and opportunities that support all students in integrative and experiential learning.
CIEL, then known as USC Connect, was highlighted in The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most in 2016 as an example of intentional alignment in higher education across educational purpose, student needs, resources, policies, and practices. Details on aspects of our programs published in 2018 include:
- Integrative Learning and Graduation with Leadership Distinction: ePortfolios and Institutional Change. InCatalyst in Action: Case Studies of High Impact ePortfolio Practice (Eynon & Gambino).
- Game Changer: How a Graduation Distinction Can Impact Learning for All [pdf],eSource for College Transitions, National Resource Center.
- Closing the Feedback Loop: Visible Learning with Intentional Reflection [pdf],Synergy, NASPA Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community.
View a more complete list [pdf] of recent publications and presentations by USC Connect and our faculty and staff partners. See highlights of the first five years of USC Connect through our e-publication USC Connect: A Story of Success [pdf].
CIEL is housed in the Office of the Provost and overseen by the vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies. Office staff includes a faculty executive director, an associate director for assessment and director of the quality enhancement plan, an assistant director for student services, and student advisors/consultants. Faculty fellows serve as advocates for integrative learning and provide faculty perspectives to the Center. The CIEL Council, composed of administrators, faculty, and student representatives, provides global direction and oversight. The Student Advisory Council provides ongoing feedback. CIEL partners with all colleges/schools and many offices throughout the university.
2016 Go Abroad Innovation Award
Recognizing pioneering universities who offer productive re-entry programming to study abroad participants.
2016 NASPA Excellence Award
Recognizing the impact USC Connect has on student learning, cross campus collaboration, originality, and sustainability.
2014 AGLS Exemplary Program Award
Recognizing innovative efforts using co-curricular activities to accomplish the goals of general education.