Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla: Transforming the Approach to Teaching and Learning

University of California San Diego

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The University of California San Diego was established as an experimental campus in 1960 by a group of scholars who were not afraid to push boundaries, challenge expectations, redefine conventional wisdom, and encourage students to look deeper. Over the years, the founders’ philosophy has continued to unite the academic community and encourage great minds to look deeper and achieve the unimaginable. Today, the university is among the top public colleges in the U.S. and has achieved global prestige and distinction for transforming lives, shaping new disciplines and advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

Watch Here:- Video Message from Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla

Preparing Students to Lead the Change

UC San Diego’s academic programs are taught by world-renowned experts who prepare students to stand out and lead change. The University offers more than 130 undergraduate majors through its 12 divisions & schools and 7 undergraduate residential colleges. As a student-centered university, UC San Diego has a good student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1 which enables personalized attention to every student. All of the university’s undergraduates belong to a tight-knit college community and are equipped to succeed through supplemental learning, faculty-mentored research opportunities, student success coaches and more.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla says, “We are committed to delivering an educational and overall experience that develops students who are capable of solving problems, leading and innovating in a diverse and interconnected world.” The university is committed to abiding by the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all its endeavors. It embraces diversity by acknowledging that people from a wide range of backgrounds and identities make unique and valuable contributions to the university community.

Furthermore, UC San Diego embraces equity by insisting on fair and non-discriminatory treatment for all and a commitment to overcoming the historical exclusion of some from higher education. Khosla further mentions that the university also has inculcated a culture of inclusion by creating a climate for work, research and learning that is empowering for all individuals.

New Teaching and Learning Opportunities

To sustain our leadership in higher education, we must transform the ways we approach both teaching and learning,” says Khosla. Drawing from the current best thinking about educational strategies and performance metrics, UC San Diego is strengthening its support from the intellectual, academic, cognitive and social development of its undergraduate and graduate students. The university also is increasing its investments in mentoring and leadership opportunities for its faculty and providing them with ready access to the latest research on teaching and learning.

In addition, UC San Diego also offers experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom for students, including placement in cutting-edge laboratories and research facilities, opportunities to live and learn in other countries, and participation in public service programs at home and abroad. Khosla notes that the Integrated Internship fellowship program is one example of the opportunities provided to the students, as participation in such co-curricular activities have higher retention rates and shortened time-to-degree.

Career Services and Alumni Engagement

UC San Diego provides extensive academic, professional, and career advising through colleges, departments, programs and units such as the Career Services Center. Khosla asserts that this advising system recognizes the individuality of each student and provides the critical support, guidance and opportunities a student needs to thrive. Furthermore, by leveraging the power of more than 200,000 UC San Diego alumni, the Career Services/Alumni Engagement partnership is helping students define and achieve their career goals.

The Return to Learn Program

UC San Diego was the first university to announce a commitment to incrementally repopulate our campus and we have taken the necessary time to develop a flexible, multilayered plan called Return to Learn that will enable us to do so prudently,” states Khosla. The university leveraged the expertise of its world-renowned faculty and medical teams to thoughtfully plan for returning to in-person and adapting to virtual teaching and research on campus in the safest way possible through the program.

Khosla adds that UC San Diego’s approach is guided by three pillars namely—risk mitigation, virus detection, and intervention. The university aims to significantly reduce the risk of transmission by providing face coverings, using personal protection equipment and enhancing sanitation. It has also reduced campus population density to provide space for effective physical distancing. For virus detection, UC San Diego has tapped into the expertise of its researchers, who have developed a unique testing program that accelerates resumption of in-person activities.

This program strives to ensure that students living on the campus with COVID-19 are provided support and a place to isolate themselves. Moreover, robust contact tracing is conducted to ensure those employees and students who may have had close contact with a positive tested person are informed as quickly as possible. “Many universities are doing testing, contact tracing, face coverings. But what sets UC San Diego apart is our data-driven, adaptive and comprehensive approach and our student, faculty and staff population,” says Khosla.

Inclusion and Innovation

According to Khosla, alongside technology, the weakest link in any system is human behavior. Thus, UC San Diego brought together anthropologists, social scientists, and behavioral scientists to determine the best ways to encourage and reinforce positive student behaviors and create a culture of Tritons protecting Tritons. Khosla added that one of the important strategies the university implemented during the pandemic was to add students in the Return to Learn planning process and development.

The resulting student-led communication and marketing teams were empowered to own the issue and drive creative solutions, thereby investing them in its successful implementation. Khosla believes that this approach reflects UC San Diego’s ethos of inclusion and innovation, encouraging students to make meaningful contributions, rather than posting the administration as the only source for solutions.

Maintaining the Academic Standards

During the Fall Quarter 2020, UC San Diego continued to offer 8% of its courses using an in-person or hybrid modality, while the majority of courses were taught remotely. The in-person and hybrid courses were primarily lower division classes, graduate seminars and research or studio-based courses with a maximum size of 50 students, with most far smaller. “All of our courses were designed to ensure that all students, whether they are remote, in-person or hybrid, receive instruction that is consistent with the university’s rigorous academic standards,” adds Khosla.

Furthermore, UC San Diego erected specially prepared outdoor classroom spaces to enable ongoing in-person instruction. “To date, nine large tents have been installed. Going into the winter quarter, we will be building more tents to add capacity and give us resilience options as we navigate through this time,” says Khosla. Besides these preparations, UC San Diego was one of two universities in California to pilot the California COVID Notify app (CA Notify) during the Fall Quarter. The app has been an integral part of its Return to Learn program and the university is supporting a recently announced statewide rollout of this technology.

The Profound Shift

The university is currently in the midst of a major multi-billion dollar intellectual, physical and cultural transformation. Khosla believes that five years from now, the UC San Diego campus will be nearly unrecognizable to anyone who has not watched the transformation unfold. Though the shift in the physical appearance of the campus is expected to be profound, Khosla believes that the impact of the shift will be far beyond just construction as he envisions UC San Diego to enhance the student experience, enrich the campus community, and spark research and innovation.

Pradeep k Khosla

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