Liberal Education and Effective Practice

Frequently-Asked Questions about LEEP

What is LEEP?

Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) is Clark's bold effort to advance liberal education. It intentionally links a deep and integrated undergraduate curriculum with opportunities to put knowledge into practice in order to prepare our students for remarkable careers and purposeful, accomplished lives.

What are the benefits of LEEP?

LEEP is designed to help students adjust to college life, develop the full scope of your talents, discover their passions, and build strong foundations to launch them toward an impactful career and a fulfilling life. With LEEP our students will:

  • Benefit from individual attention and mentorship from our faculty and staff
  • Engage deeply with complex challenges in your discipline, the community and the world
  • Collaborate with expert faculty, researchers, alumni, colleagues, and community members to address the big issues of our times
  • Emerge from Clark with the full range of knowledge and skills needed to thrive in today's world—and change it for the better

How do "liberal education" and "effective practice" come together at Clark to benefit students?

Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) systematically links liberal learning to the world of practice at every stage and in every dimension of the student experience.

As a result of LEEP, students learn to put their knowledge into action and gain capacities that employers seek and the world needs. Liberal Education (LE) prepares students to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides them with broad knowledge as well as in-depth study in an area of interest. Liberally educated students learn to think critically, inquire and analyze, and develop a strong ethical framework. Effective Practice (EP) is the ability to put knowledge and skills to use in order to thrive in today's complex and ever-changing world. Students with capacities of effective practice bring creativity and imagination, resilience and persistence, and the ability to constructively collaborate with others.

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What are the elements of LEEP?

LEEP Framework

  • LEEP Learning Model: This model integrates in-class learning, world and workplace experiences, and co-curricular activities—all supported by a comprehensive advising structure—to help students put their liberal education to work in the world.
  • LEEP Continuum: At Clark we are particularly interested in the individual educational and developmental journeys that each student takes while they're here. We break this journey down into three parts:
    • Orientation—As students enter higher education, they first need to build fundamental skills and relationships that lay the groundwork for all that will come later.
    • Exploration—Students in this phase listen to others, question their beliefs, delve more deeply into their areas of interest, and begin to apply their knowledge to real-world work and research experiences.
    • Action—After much learning, questioning, and practicing, students have a chance to synthesize and share all that they've learned by working on meaningful projects that demonstrate their mastery of a subject and the five LEEP Learning Outcomes.
  • LEEP Learning Outcomes: LEEP combines the four essential learning outcomes developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities with a new outcome, developed here at Clark, that is focused on effective practice.
    • Knowledge of the Natural World and Human Cultures and Societies
    • Intellectual and Practical Skills
    • Personal and Social Responsibility
    • Ability to Integrate Knowledge and Skills
    • Capacities of Effective Practice, including creativity and imagination, self-directedness, resilience and persistence, and the ability to both collaborate across differences and manage complexity and uncertainty

    LEEP curricular framework

    • First-Year Intensives: These courses, required for all first-year students, start to build the essential foundational knowledge and skills across the academic spectrum.
    • Program of Liberal Studies: Through this program, which is the foundation of a Clark undergraduate education, students acquire the intellectual habits, skills, and perspectives that are essential for self-directed learning.
    • Majors: Courses within Clark's majors give students deep knowledge and skills in their areas of interest.

    LEEP Innovations

    • LEEP Center: This is where students meet with advisers to plan a Clark education that reflects their strengths and interests, aligns curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences, and helps put them on a path to achieve their life and career goals.
    • LEEP Projects: These are opportunities for Clark students—typically juniors and rising seniors—to work with an external organization on a real project related to the student's area of interest. About 100 are chosen each summer. Successful candidates are called LEEP Fellows and receive a modest stipend ($2,500).
    • LEEP Scholars: LEEP Scholars receive full tuition, room, and board for four years. They also have the chance to complete a tuition-free master's degree as a fifth-year student, and get a stipend to complete a LEEP Project. Each year we award up to five scholarships to our brightest incoming undergraduates.
    • LEEP University Partners: These institutional partnerships are designed to maximize access and opportunity for organizations to recruit students and sponsor world-class faculty research.
    • LEEP Compass: This is a group of faculty and staff who assess and evaluate LEEP from an educational perspective. They draw upon longitudinal analyses of national surveys with students, alumni, and faculty, and develop e-portfolios as tools for student self-reflection and demonstrated capacities.

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How does LEEP help provide a greater return on a student's educational investment?

Our graduates have gone on to work for great organizations and attend some of the top graduate schools in the country (including our own) because Clark has helped them become excellent communicators, entrepreneurial leaders, and big-picture thinkers. But we're also incredibly proud of the fact that, in addition to preparing them for the first step after college, we're preparing them for long, productive careers, and lives of real consequence.

How is the undergraduate curriculum changing as a result of LEEP?

The core curricular building blocks of a Clark undergraduate education have not changed, but the undergraduate curricular experience has been redesigned in three interrelated ways:

  1. The curriculum is now coordinated around five university-wide learning outcomes:
    • Knowledge of the Natural World and Human Cultures and Societies
    • Intellectual and Practical Skills
    • Personal and Social Responsibility
    • Ability to Integrate Knowledge and Skills
    • Capacities of Effective Practice, including creativity, self-directedness, persistence, and the ability to collaborate
  2. We've put enhanced focus on launching our students into the world beyond college. We've developed a new learning model that provides extensive opportunities and curricular support for linking knowledge with application, with increased experience in authentic settings. All of this is coupled with preparatory and reflective experiences that help insure student readiness for successful professional, personal and civic lives.
  3. Drawing on Clark's distinguished history in the learning and developmental sciences, faculty and staff have designed a curriculum based on a developmental approach that expects students to take on increasing agency and responsibility for organizing, synthesizing, and demonstrating their own learning across successive phases of their college experience. Further information about this work can be found here.

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What kinds of learning opportunities are available to students outside the classroom?

Hands-on learning is available at other colleges. What makes LEEP different?

At Clark, the authentic learning experiences that take place outside the classroom—such as internships, student-faculty research, study abroad, and extracurricular activities—are not simply add-ons to your in-class education; they are crucial components that every Clark student can participate in. LEEP Center Advising, combined with faculty advising, connects you to a broad range of high-value learning opportunities, and enables you to align and integrate them into one life-changing academic journey.

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Do students have to apply to or sign up for LEEP?

No. LEEP is the entire undergraduate experience for our students. It is not a specific program to which you have to apply or sign up. When you enroll at Clark, you will experience the LEEP approach woven throughout your undergraduate years.

Are there any scholarships related to LEEP?

The LEEP Scholarship is a four-year tuition, room, and board scholarship awarded to the five strongest students in Clark's enrolling class each year.

What types of advising support are in place to help me with LEEP and other undergraduate decisions?

Each first year Clark student is assigned a LEEP Center Adviser whose work complements academic advising provided to all Clark students. Your LEEP Center Adviser will help you weave together all of the elements of your Clark experience—academics, internships, study abroad, research, etc.—in a way that will help you move successfully into the next stages of your life.

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What is a LEEP Project?

LEEP Projects are problem-based projects that students complete during the summer with a faculty mentor and an employer. These projects:

  • Offer real-world applications of course material in the workplace
  • Allow authentic problem-solving experiences
  • Provide an opportunity to engage with others outside of Clark
  • Enhance mastery of the LEEP learning outcomes
  • May serve as a capstone, or culminating experience
  • Come with comprehensive pre- and post-project advising, support, and training

Funding for LEEP Projects is competitive, and current sophomores, junior and seniors are eligible to apply.

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