Students in the Letterpress Studio
From its inception, the Experimental College has emphasized creative collaboration between students, faculty, and the greater Oberlin community across disciplines to shape new courses and programs.
The Experimental College has been instrumental in establishing numerous ground-breaking courses and opportunities for its students. The popularity of certain courses led directly to establishing the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies department and major here at Oberlin, the Comparative American Studies department and major, and official foreign language course offerings as well.
In 2020, to contend with the pandemic, ExCo classes were mostly held on Zoom. While not favorable at first, it opened our eyes to a new opportunity: the ability to have Oberlin alumni teach classes from wherever they were in the world. One Oberlin alumnus in grad school at UNC Chapel Hill recently taught an ExCo on Hegelian Philosophy, called "Turning Hegel on His Head." This student utilized the class not only as a method of teaching and sharing knowledge, but also as a means of learning and processing alongside his own graduate research.
In addition, ExCo has had a longstanding collaboration with Oberlin's Archives and Special Collections, Oberlin's Letterpress Studio, and The Allen Memorial Art Museum. What's more, ExCo has been instrumental in the creation and longevity of many of Oberlin's clubs--including, but not limited to: OSteel, Oberlin Flaming Blades Fencing, Taiko Drumming, and OCircus.
ExCo works to widen the Oberlin community, while simultaneously making it more accessible to enter new discussion and skill-based spaces. The Oberlin Pottery Co-op, while open to all, could be seen as tricky to participate in for a novice potter; luckily, Oberlin has routinely had Intro and Intermediate Pottery ExCos to teach students proper technique, and educate them on how to respectfully and successfully utilize the incredible resource and group of artists that is the Pottery Co-op. Similarly, the Oberlin Sexual Information Center makes use of ExCo to train and gain the interest of potential new hires, while also making known valuable resources and important health information.
Of course, ExCo would not be quite the program it is today without the involvement of our community members---some who have been teaching and or taking ExCos for the past 25+ consecutive years! These wonderful individuals are donating their time, life experience, and knowledge to bettering Oberlin as a whole. They prove that experiential learning is not only reserved for those in the classroom, actively pursuing a degree, but for anyone who wants to share lively discussions and impassioned experiences with people of all backgrounds and interests. They truly exemplify the values at the heart of ExCo: learning not merely for the sake of grades, but for the benefit of found and intentionally curated communities---and of course, for the love of learning itself.
We are always open to new partnerships that will enrich the Oberlin community. Please contact us with your ideas.