Clark University’s inaugural LEEP Project Pioneers pave the way

Emily Sturdivant ’13 researched the spawning patterns of Pacific salmon in Idaho river basins.

Sam Moody ’12, a fifth-year student, fought to reduce housing foreclosures and vacancies in Worcester.

Ryan Osbaldeston ’13 is building a computer to beta-test a role-playing video game of his own creation.

They were among the 46 students selected to conduct projects across a spectrum of intellectual disciplines and in a wide array of professional and social settings. These LEEP Project Pioneers traveled to Guatemala, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and across the United States to immerse themselves in fields of study, conduct research and contribute to the companies and organizations that served as LEEP Partners. Since beginning their projects, they have interviewed and befriended fascinating people, observed and researched exotic environments, and obtained new knowledge and skills that will prepare them for meaningful careers and lives.

The Pioneers initiative is a component of Clark University’s Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP), a model of education that combines world and workplace experiences with a robust liberal arts curriculum, giving students the full range of skills needed to thrive in today’s complex, ever-changing world.

‘Clark professors have taught me that a good question can be as valuable as a good answer.’

~Rebecca Rood Goldman ’14

This summer, faculty mentors, Clark alumni and organizational partners collaborated with the Pioneers on projects that span the breadth of Clark’s academic areas, from the social sciences to business, from the humanities to the sciences. Many will continue this work throughout the 2012-2013 academic year.

“LEEP Projects provide opportunities for students to blend academic learning with professional development,” said Colin Polsky, associate dean for undergraduate research and active pedagogy and associate professor of geography.  “LEEP Projects not only allow Clark students to dive deeply into a topic about which they are passionate, but also provide an opportunity for students to deepen their mastery of Clark’s ‘Capacities of Effective Practice,’ including collaboration in diverse teams.”

Said LEEP Project Pioneer Rebecca Rood Goldman ’14, a biology/studio art major who spent her summer at the Museum of Natural History in New York, studying how evolution intersects with aesthetics in terrestrial leeches: “Having close experiences with faculty at Clark made it easier for me to be working one-on-one with my adviser at the museum.”

Fellow Pioneer Alexander Kump ’13, a theater arts major who spent his summer working for the CBS Comedy Development Department in Los Angeles, Calif., said that his project “helped me experience a different industry than my own, and will help me make informed decisions about my future career.”

Visit the LEEP Project Pioneers Web page to learn more about what these 46 students have accomplished.