Southern Utah University wins ‘National Experiential Learning Award’

Southern Utah University was awarded the National Society of Experiential Education’s Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of SUU Marketing Communications, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University was awarded the “National Society of Experiential Education’s Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award,” which recognizes an outstanding K-12 or higher education institution that has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to experiential education in their classrooms and campus. The award was the only one given to an experiential education program in the country.

Southern Utah University was awarded the National Society of Experiential Education’s Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of SUU Marketing Communications, St. George News
Southern Utah University was awarded the National Society of Experiential Education’s Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of SUU Marketing Communications, St. George News

“Our project-based learning program has taken an enormous amount of work over the last five years,” SUU President Scott L. Wyatt said of the award, “and I am extremely proud of what our faculty and staff have accomplished. Our students and their future employers are the beneficiaries.”

NSEE President James Colbert said SUU exemplifies the purpose of experiential education, which is to better prepare students for the workforce as they leave college.

“Employers are now looking for this on resumés and they love to see real work experience from graduates,” Colbert said. “I think these internships and other forms of experiential learning in higher education are giving students an opportunity to gain experience, which helps employers to see the capability of their employees to get their job done.”

According to a national study from Hart and Associates Research, 87 percent of employers would be more likely to hire someone with an experiential learning project on their resumés, while in the same study 73 percent of employers believe an experiential learning project would improve the quality of career preparation, which has created a greater push for higher education institutions to offer these experiences for students.

Patrick Clarke, SUU dean of university college and engaged learning, recently hosted the “Experiential Learning Institute” at SUU.

“One of the things we felt was missing in the national dialogue is getting people from different areas to come together and have these larger discussions,” Clarke said. “When people have discussions about experiential learning, they usually have it in the context of their own disciplines.”

SUU will receive the award at the NSEE’s Conference Awards Luncheon Oct. 6 in Saint Pete Beach, Florida.

The National Society for Experiential Education is a nonprofit membership organization composed of educators, businesses and community leaders. Founded in 1971, NSEE also serves as a national resource center for the development and improvement of experiential education programs nationwide.

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