The University of Notre Dame has developed a partnership with select Catholic high schools serving economically disadvantaged communities in the design and implementation of college-level coursework.
College BouND Scholars is a pilot program which saw its first session launched in early March and concluded in May after a six-week session. The program consisted of 38 academically talented high school juniors from partner high schools in the Cristo Rey and ACE networks. The cohorts participated in an exciting course created by Notre Dame and facilitated by high school instructors. The program was fully funded by the Office of the Provost, Strategic Initiatives, offering students a full scholarship to participate in the course, which was designed and offered by the Office of Pre-College Programs.
Like the College BouND partner high schools, Notre Dame’s institutional mission is animated by a call to foster learning that becomes service to justice. The creation of the program is a recognition of this symmetry of values as well as the college attainment opportunity gap that confronts such communities.
Throughout the program, which is designed to act as a pathway to college, students had the opportunity to engage their intellectual curiosity while earning a college credit upon completion of the scholarship-funded program.
Students were offered a glimpse into college-level work. This year, the topic of the six-week course offered was Technology and Innovation Ethics, taught by Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy Don Howard and Jude Galbraith, visiting instructor of Ethics and Philosophy at Texas A& M International University. High school instructors facilitated the live, in-person class sessions at the partner schools using asynchronous content, discussion guides, and accompanying course material provided by Notre Dame.
In order to create community and engagement among participants, the partnering high schools came together with Notre Dame faculty in live virtual sessions. Students had a chance to ask questions and, for many, this was their first seminar-style course.
College BouND scholar Evelyn Hernandez said, “Our professor made our experience 10 times much more enjoyable. Professor Howard is a professional in thinking in a broader perspective and I really feel that his input made us realize things about technology and its effects in a different perspective. It also gave us the college feel on how to communicate with educators.”
The course closely considered the ethical responsibilities inherent in the process of technological innovation from the perspective of the innovator. Topics covered included the nature of responsibility, values in design and the roles of regulation and of business models. Students reviewed real-world applications of these ideas through cases from social media, AI and robotics.
Through the coursework, students were challenged to think critically in new ways about the technology they use on a daily basis.
Hernandez said, “I learned so much! I learned about technology everyday and the consequences of technology advancing. The most memorable moment was the first session where I learned the real reason the media was created…and the true motives of business. I also learned how ethical and moral practices are intertwined with technology.”
Notre Dame was honored to offer the College BouND program to serve disadvantaged communities while acting as a significant stepping stone on students’ paths to higher education.