Integrative learning combines ideas from multiple disciplines in order to get a finished product. But how does this occur? The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) calls for integrative learning by “[going] beyond academic boundaries” to connect education to real-world experiences. This allows for problem solving and application of learned material. This also requires a connection between people. The AACU describes that by making connections, people gain the skills to have lifelong learning, civil responsibility, and better social skills. But it goes deeper than connecting to others. It’s about connecting to your previous works. Through personal reflection, someone can truly see what they’ve learned and how they have grown. I think the importance of combining multiple disciplines is to get the most amount of viewpoints. But why does it matter? The disciplines themselves do not matter, but what matters are the differences in the viewpoints of the people in them. Someone who studies Mathematics is going to think differently than someone who studies English, who thinks differently than someone who studies Sociology etc. By combining different disciplines’ ideas we combine different people’s ideas. When different groups of people come together in partnership, they can do more than anyone group can do together. This is shown in the Geneseo community as well as in Olivia Butler’s work Bloodchild.
The Facilities Crew contributes to the academic partnership by providing access to a safe, clean, comfortable learning environment. They accomplish that through their own partnership with SUNY Geneseo. One of the first things on the Facilities’ homepage says “In support of SUNY Geneseo’s Mission…” This already suggests a form of partnership. Facilities exist in order to allow students to grow and learn. But in any partnership, both parties gain something. Brandon Schmitt, a cleaner, says that he likes the recognition from a job well done. That’s why he “honestly love[s] to do the things that people will notice the next day.” Mr. Schmitt clearly gains a sense of community and belonging in his work here on campus. That sense of community is what he gets from his side of the partnership. Rick Canarvis, the school’s locksmith, sums both ideas up nicely when he says “I like the satisfaction that when I come to work I know I have a part in the safety and security of the students…” Without people like Mr. Canarvis, it would be much harder for students to learn. It would be possible that students would be too scared to learn. So not only does his work allow students to have a place to work, it gives them the sense that they are able to do it. Without students, Mr. Canarvis would not be getting a sense of accomplishment from his work. In this way, both the students and the Facilities Crew get something tangible and intangible. Students get a clean place which makes them feel safe and supported, while the Facilities Crew gets monetary compensation and a feeling of satisfaction. This relationship between the Facilities Crew and the rest of the college not only allows for academic partnership, but it is also a great demonstration on how to have a successful partnership.
The Heating Plant is one of the most critical buildings on campus, but many students -including myself- do not understand quite what they do. All we know about it is that it uses a rather large smokestack located behind the union. Why do we even need the heating plant, the buildings are too warm anyway! As the name implies, the staff of the Heating Plant makes sure all of the buildings are appropriately furnaced. But they do a lot more than that. According to the Heating Plant section of the Facilities Services webpage, the Heating Plant staff s responsible for providing “high-pressure steam, heating hot water, domestic water, and natural gas.” But what does this mean in terms of labor? The webpage describes that the heating plant is staffed all day every day by highly trained engineers. They make sure that the entire campus’s energy needs are being met. But there’s more to this than just providing needs. As one can see, the Heating Plant staff are essential to the continued learning here on campus. But what do most students know them for? The building with the big smokestack. This in itself says a lot about partnership. Partners may not know the extent to which the partnership is critical. I sure didn’t understand.
The relationship described in Octavia E. Butler’s Bloodchild between T’Gatoi and Gan is similar in scope to the relationship between students and the heating plant. As previously mentioned, most students don’t quite understand the necessity of the heating plant and its services. Gan is not fully aware of the extent of his side of the partnership. Both Gan and students both know that it is necessary, but have not experienced life without it. Gan knows that “only [T’Gatoi] and her political faction stood between us and the hordes who did not understand why there was a Preserve.” But he does not know what life was actually like without T’Gatoi. Most students don’t know what Geneseo was like without a heating plant. Both Geneseo students and Gan are relying on agreements made before we had a say. Before the operation on Lomas, Gan recounts to himself, “T’Gatoi had shown me diagrams and drawings. She had made! sure I knew the truth as soon as I was old enough to understand it.” Gan clearly believes that he knows what this partnership entails. This is similar to how most students feel about the heating plant. Most students feel that they know what the heating plant does and why it’s a part of the campus community. However, knowledge is a potent tool. After Gan watches the operation on Lomas, he is struck with the realization that there is more to the partnership than he originally thought. He thinks to himself, “And it was far worse than any drawing or diagram.” While Gan learns that the partnership is a lot more negative on his end, most students share the general theme that there is more to the relationship between the heating plant and the rest of the campus.
The integrative partnerships described above allow for an evolution of ideas. While it’s clear that the SUNY Geneseo community relies on partnerships, what else does? I argue that everything we do relies upon some sort of integrative partnership. Take buying groceries. In order to get groceries from the store to your home, you need someone to stock the store, someone to purchase the goods in bulk, someone to grow the food, someone to ship the food, etc. When you buy food, you are providing your side of the partnership, financial resources. The partnership would collapse if you do not have the money, or if any of the steps needed to provide the food fails. And that’s just for grocery shopping, something relatively simple. Everything is built on partnerships that go deeper than people see at first glance. We as a society need partnerships.