A Course Is A Course, Of Course Of Course

“If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”

As my second semester at SUNY Geneseo both physically and remotely comes to a close, I have been asked to “tell the story of your semester’s consideration of the risks and rewards of academic partnership” in relation to the courses’ epigraph above. My initial understanding of the quote above was that there is risk in trusting someone enough to strike a partnership. This concept served as the through line in INTD 105’s entire course. 

In my own opinion the beginning weeks of the course were meant to establish a basis for dialogue and discussion. This included learning each other’s names, and learning how to have insightful and respectful discussion. This foundation, although in some ways tedious, was entirely necessary if we were to engage in an effective dialogue. Once many of the semantics were out of the way, my peers and I began reading Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bloodchild I would direct you to my essay So It Goes, Where Its Going No One Knows (linked below).This story served as a sort of fable that taught an important lesson about the risks of engaging in partnership, as well as provide the course epigraph above. This story would be the through line and foundation to the rest of the course.

 Following these initial weeks we began discussing the various mission statements many Colleges and Universities state on their respective websites. When analyzing these sites we began cultivating the background needed to begin the next step in understanding academic partnership. This next step was learning what Geneseo provides in an academic partnership, and what it seeks to accomplish with its students. According to the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education (GLOBE) “The entire college community works together to develop socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world”. Initially I didn’t think anything of this, but now I realize that this hints at the lesson I would eventually take away from this course.

After reading through public statements from Geneseo and various other schools, our class shifted its attention examining the facility staff’s role in making sure Geneseo is able to provide students the education promised in the GLOBE we had examined. It was here that I gained a very real insight into the hard work that everyone at Geneseo does just to keep the school running. This allowed me to open my mind to something other than the usual faces I see, teachers and students, and begin to appreciate the people who often are overlooked yet play such an integral role in my education.  Geneseo Locksmith Rick Canarvis said it best when he stated, “I also like the satisfaction that when I come to work, I have a part in the safety and security of the students that work here”. Canarvis is a perfect example of what Geneseo offers in its education: dedication, commitment, and care.

After our class had the opportunity to see what Geneseo offers to further its students’ education in terms of basic necessities, we then were able to have conversations with staff such as Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg. From what robbie described in their discussion with us, it seemed that a good part of their time is spent mediating conflicts that risk the well being of a student. Consent plays a huge role in this according to robbie. In their eyes if someone is forced into resolution, it will be ineffective. Both parties must consent to resolve the situation. To learn that consent is of robbie’s utmost importance was actually quite refreshing. I came from a background where if there was a conflict, my school would force you to resolve it, which only led to more bad blood. 

Our class then had a discussion Dr. Joe Cope, Interim Associate Provost for Student Success; Professor of History. Joe noted that the syllabus allows a student to decide whether or not they wish to stay in the class. Joe called a syllabus a form of contract, which tied directly into our class’ discussion of social contracts. Joe argued that in order to have a student’s consent in a classroom environment a teacher must simply provide them with a clear and detailed syllabus. Through noting the existence of the “Add-drop” period Joe showed that no student is bound to a particular course.

A few days later our class talked with Dr. Sasha Eloi-Evans, Director of Multicultural Programs and Services at Geneseo. While talking with Sasha, she discussed where a social contract ends. The social contract in Sasha’s opinion bends only to the life of another. If someone needs food but can afford it, Sasha will put the contract aside and make sure that person is given aid in some form or another. Again, Sasha’s response shows Geneso isn’t simply an institution but a community of people, and although there are contractual restraints, they will do what they can to service the student’s needs.

After all of this enlightening information on the true nature of Geneseo’s staff my view of the course epigraph began to change. My understanding shifted from simply recognizing it as a warning of the risks of academic partnership, to realising the rewards of it. I am not sure if this was Geneseo’s intention in establishing this course, but Geneseo proved to me that although there are great risks in becoming a partner in social contract, there are also many rewards. These rewards are well maintained facilities, understanding mediators, advisors, and engaging teachers. These rewards come from the work of people like Rick Canarvis, robbie routenberg, Joe Cope, Sasha Eloi-Evans, and my professor Beth McCoy. By examining many of the services that Geneseo provides, I was able to see that Geneseo does its best to live up to its mission from the GLOBE. “The entire college community works together to develop socially responsible citizens with skills and values important to the pursuit of an enriched life and success in the world”. Through the tireless work of Geneseo staff, Geneseo is able to live up to the goal it sets forth in GLOBE.

In the “so what?” of my first essay in INTD 105 I stated: “I must decide for myself whether or not an academic partnership is worth the risk it may cause… for myself, the answer to this question can only be obtained through experience and time, but hopefully this course can help me come closer to the answer to this question. Is the risk worth the reward?” This course allowed me a small insight into the many things Geneseo does to make the risk of academic partnership worth the reward. After learning about so much that the school does to not simply be an institution but a community, I have determined that for myself the risk is worth the reward. I can recognize Geneseo as a community, an ecosystem working in harmony. Initially I did not understand why this course was necessary. Now, however, I can see that this course gave me a greater understanding of the nature of my own academic partnership.

The Backbone

Geneseo is very adamant on the importance of integrative learning, and the university has many resources to help students use this. Integrative learning is important to higher education, as it connects the classroom knowledge not only between courses, but also to real life experiences that students have. According to the AAC&U, “ integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems … to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives. Integrative and applied learning also involves internal changes in the learner.” Integrative learning is important, in my opinion, as it allows student to fully grasp a concept by using prior knowledge and experience, literature, and other coursework. This paper in particular allows me to use integrative learning, as I am connecting resources such as Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, the Geneseo Heating and Facilities resource pages, and my personal experience at Geneseo. Personally, I find the relationship between the students of SUNY Geneseo and the staff of the facilities services to be similar to the relationship between TLics and Terrans in “Bloodchild”.

The facilities services is integral part of the Geneseo campus community. According to the video found on Facilities Services page, “the department of facilities services plays a significant role that advances SUNY Geneseo’s mission by providing quality maintenance services across campus infrastructure to ensure that the college runs smoothly”. This is an important aspect to academic partnership with the college, as the institution places a large role on this department to allow students to rest assured knowing the buildings and facilities they use daily are clean and sanitary. The students of Geneseo are allotted the tranquility of this, knowing that their first priorities are academic studies, and not having to worry about cleaning their own facilities. For example, students do not have to worry about tables in study areas being dirty, as they are regularly wiped and sanitized. 

The Geneseo Heating plant is also an integral part of life on campus. According to the heating plant website, the responsibilities of the heating plant are as follows: the management of the heating plant and the Campus Satellite Boiler system, energy consumption and conservation, and utility distribution. Also on the webpage, I learned there is staff working 24/7 thats works to maintain the buildings on campus that are used daily. I believe that this is a reward of partnership with Geneseo, as they have a full staff at all times to make sure the campus is properly maintained. This staff is composed of highly trained personnel, so they are very knowledgeable about the subjects the staff deals with everyday. Another aspect of the heating plant is the large smokestack, which is located right behind the Union, a building that most students use very often. I have always noticed the building, but I had no idea what its function was until it was brought about in this course. To me that speaks volumes about the relationship between the students and staff of Geneseo, which I will later discuss. 

Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” describes an alien planet where humans, known as Terrans, have escaped to. The other creatures of this world, Tlics, use the Terrans as hosts to bear their young for them since they are unable to themselves. The story focuses on the relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi. T’Gatoi is set in an agreement with Gan’s mother to use Gan as a host to birth her children, but after Gan accidentally witnesses a birthing process, which was horrific to him, causing him to “vomit until there was nothing left to bring up”. While outside, he comes across his brother Qui who tells Gan of his experience watching a different birthing process that ended badly.  Gan then ends up agreeing to T’Gatoi again, to save his sister from having to do it “and to keep [T’Gatoi] for [himself]”. 

I see a similar relationship roles between the students and facilities staff at Geneseo and between the terran and Tlic in Butler’s “Bloodchild”. The relationship between the Terran and Tlic in “Bloodchild” can be viewed as one sided, with the Terran giving and the Tlic receiving, since the Terran never truly benefited from bearing the Tlic children. The Tlic viewed Terran as objects for their use, and “wanted more of [them] available.” Gan states that Terran are “necessities, status symbols”, which goes to show the reader that the Tlic are under the impression they are higher status of Terran. In no way am I implying that the students of Geneseo view the facilities department staff as objects or less than. The point that I see similar between the two relationships is the disregarding of people that do necessity services for you. The Tlic, as stated before, view the Terran as means to birth their children and not much else. They disregard what the Terran do for them,because it is their “job” in society. Before given the topic in this course, I will admit that I have overlooked the work that the Geneseo staff does for the students, and the fact that there are many more people in our campus community than students, professors, and administrators. The staff that makes sure our beautiful campus remains beautiful and continues to run often get overlooked, and I believe that could be their risk in partnership with the college. Much like the Tlic, the students of Geneseo would not be able to live on campus without these staff, as they are in charge of not only keeping the academic buildings, but the residences as well, cleaning and providing necessities such as hot water. This point is similar to “Bloodchild”, because if the Terran were not there, the Tlic would have not have a safe way to bear their children. 

In conclusion, the relationship between the Tlic and Terran share similarities as the relationship between student at Geneseo and the staff of the department of facilities and the heating plant, as they both can be argues to be one-sided. In my opinion, the work of the staff is a reward for the students of academic partnership with the college, as they see to the campus buildings and ensure that every aspect is safe for students. Yet, the staff may see it as a “risk”,as they often go immensely under-appreciated and undervalued. While writing this paper, I have realized how integrative learning is extremely beneficial to traditional academics. If I had not been a part of this relationship I have written about, I would not have been able to write this paper. Moreover, I would not have had the “internal changes” cited from the AAC&U. Through the experience of this, I have taken more into thought the work of the facilities department staff and will make sure that they are no longer overlooked by myself and those around me. The department of facilities services and the staff of the heating plant are the backbone of SUNY Geneseo.

The Overlooked Truth

When looking at the university we see the amalgamation of many different people and facilities that for many people simply goes unnoticed and therefore unappreciated. This can be seen through The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). This association pushes for universities and colleges to look at how they help relate their education to the issues in the world around us. This also helps us show that we have the ability more to come together and for us to look past the bubble that surrounds them. We have to be able to look past the confounds that we are comfortable with and help approach problems with others that they may not have thought have been people that they may have worked with. This push to work with people that may have never been an obvious choice, as well as people that go unnoticed and under-appreciated, can not only be seen in our campus but as well as the readings that we did in class which was the short story Bloodchild by Octavia Butler.

In the short story Bloodchild by Octavia Butler there are some characters that go unnoticed, one example of this is the main character Gan’s parents. Although we only truly interact with only one of Gan’s parents which was his mother we see how both of his parents try to protect both Gan and his sister. For example, Gan’s father directly disobeys the order that humans may not have firearms in order to help provide a small sense of security for his family. Or through his mother refusing to eat T’Gatoi’s egg although we don’t know the exact reason she refuses the egg, we do know the side effects of it. The egg provides a state that is more sedated, the person consuming it is in a sleepy drunk like state. This coupled with the fact that T’Gatoi goes and stings Gan’s mom it makes her almost unable to properly protect Gan if something were to happen to him. The relationship between T’Gatoi and Gan’s mother seems to be at first one where they are close friends but, when I read it the second time their relationship seems more untrusting and almost hostile. I believe that Gan’s parents sacrifice in order to protect their children despite the consequences that may occur.

Another case can be seen on our own campus. The heating plant at our school helps heat all the buildings as well as the water in said buildings according to their website they provide  “high pressure steam, heating hot water, domestic water, and natural gas”, affects every single building on campus.” They also provide different services like keeping the landscape in check as well as a locksmith who helps ensure the safety of the students, on the Facility Service website they claim that they provide a “safe, reliable, aesthetically pleasing building and ground”. These are vital to the safety of the school, they help to keep the college running but, they often don’t get any sort of recognition that they deserve. They are often working behind the scenes making sure things are nice to look at and that there are “provide quality maintenance services that assure safe, reliable, aesthetically pleasing buildings and grounds”. This means that the grounds that we expect to look a certain way are meticulously cared for by group of dedicated people that often don’t get the thanks that they deserve.

 When looking at all of the facilities and the people that run them that go under-appreciated it’s easy to not understand how vital they are and how they work endlessly to help provide a better campus every day and that with that you can see the importance of integrated learning. Because we often don’t see how we work together as a unit and how in order to solve different problems we need to look at the different people that work on campus to make it better and the sacrifices that they make in order to provide it. 

All in all, I think that it is vital to understand integrated learning and show that not everyone will be recognized and that many people are often working together to help people move as a unit and that in order to help solve bigger issues we must be able to work with people that we may not have first thought of working with and that we must make sacrifices that may go unnoticed by many people.

Why Different Viewpoints Matter

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. 

Making Extraordinary Connections

From the beginning of our education, everyone knows of someone who always asked the question, “When are we gonna use this in the real world?” Admittingly, I have been that student before. No matter how annoying it might be to a teacher, this is a valid question. It is important for students to understand the purpose of all the work they put into learning a subject. It’s absurd to expect someone to put their all into an assignment when the purpose appears meaningless. As a student, I can confidently say that I tend to feel more inclined to learn when I can recognize the importance in respect to my life outside of the classroom. Leading education organizations have realized this and made it a goal to accomplish this through integrative learning. One of these organizations is the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). According to them, integrative learning is key in “developing the ability to make, recognize, and evaluate connections among disparate concepts, fields, or contexts…” To put this in simpler terms, the goal of integrative learning is to give students a way to connect what they learn in a classroom to the outside world. Incorporating integrative learning is extremely important to reveal how “seemingly disparate” things connect. In particular, the impact of students’ relationships to the facilities services, the heating plant, and Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” to our academic success. Ultimately, a students’ success coincides with their ability to connect their academics to other parts of their lives.

After analyzing the provided information on the Geneseo Facilities Services web page with integrative learning in mind, I have had a serious reconsideration of the effect of the Geneseo staff on my academic success. While, don’t get me wrong, I have always had a great deal of gratitude toward the staff, I struggled to understand the extent of their effect on my education. This was because I lacked the imagination which integrative learning promotes, to think outside the box. Fortunately, the well-made video on the Facilities Services’ web page put it in perspective. The men and women of Geneseo Facilities Services go above and beyond to establish a safe and clean environment for us to learn in. The video points out that the staff of the Geneseo Facilities service “plays a significant role in advancing SUNY Geneseo’s mission by providing quality maintenance services across campus infrastructure to ensure that the college runs smoothly.”. Trust me, students already have enough stress as it is. Having a well-organized school lifts a weight off our already overworked shoulders. Their contributions, which include the maintenance of study areas, dining halls, and academic buildings, creates an environment where students can better focus on their education with limited distractions. Picture this, you are studying in a smelly room, the garbage is overflowing, there is a light flickering, and the room is an utter mess. Are you gonna be able to pay attention to your work? No. Instead we are provided with clean, safe areas maintained by the staff who take pride in their job. Their work is far more involved than simply providing an aesthetically pleasing campus. They also save us a huge amount of time. Not having to worry about cleaning bathrooms, taking out garbage, and many other things like this adds up to hundreds of hours of saved time over the course of our education. If something breaks, simply put in a work order on their web page and someone will take care of it. It’s the little things like this that make our lives easier, which ultimately makes school easier. Even though the facilities services staff do not directly help us study for classes, their work indirectly affects our grades. This is why they have a huge impact on our academic success.

Using an outlook similar to the one used in the previous paragraph, the Geneseo Heating Plant also heavily impacts our education indirectly. Using the information given on the Geneseo Heating Plant webpage, the staff’s responsibilities present a benefit that cannot be seen without making unconventional connections.. Their work, which includes providing “high pressure steam, heating hot water, domestic water, and natural gas”, affects every single building on campus. These amenities provide us with the tools to succeed that professors simply cannot. The comfortable environment provided stimulates the effectiveness of students. This includes everything from the ability to take a hot shower to studying at a comfortable temperature. Even professors seem to teach better when in a comfortable environment, which leads to students doing better in classes. According to a study conducted by Loyola University,  learning at an uncomfortable temperature negatively impacts a students memory, which in turn will negatively affect their grades. Next, as stated in the webpage, the staff also have a duty of supplying the services “in an economic, efficient, safe, and timely manner.” This is important to our academic success because the money saved by the staff can be implemented into technology for teaching such as new projectors. Considering the extent of the impact of their job on the campus, I find them just as important to advancing our education as the teaching staff. Their work merely affects us in a different way than professors do. Without making the connection between the Heating Plant and our academic success, their influence can easily be missed.

After rethinking the story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler through the “integrative learning” scope used in the previous sections, I was opened up to an entire other part of the story. The initially vague connections between my academics to both Geneseo maintenance facilities were found by exploring less obvious options. The scope used to explore how this ties into “Bloodchild” was the impact of the non-traditional main characters on Gan’s attempt to gain knowledge on how the world works around him. While the main impression “Bloodchild” left on me was the relationship between T’Gatoi and Gan, there are a number of other characters that affected Gan’s journey that seemed to be overshadowed by T’Gatoi. Similar to how teachers overshadowed the facilities in respect to the impact on our education. Characters such as Qui, Gan’s brother, represent the facilities in this example. Qui is the character being overshadowed.  Even though his character was not present for most of the story, his impact on Gan’s decision was huge. Qui went through a traumatic experience of witnessing what happens when a birth that doesn’t go as planned. What he witnessed changed his life, in turn, changing Gan’s outlook on the situation at hand. Qui is a background character when it comes to the birth, yet he still provides Gan with the proper information necessary to make his decision. This conclusion was made through the endless possibilities of applying integrative learning.

Naturally, when I think of integrative learning, I think of getting out of the traditional classroom and, for example, conducting an experiment. However, I can see how when it comes to writing techniques, it can be difficult to find a hands-on approach that isn’t writing an essay or paragraph. Fortunately, there are endless possibilities of ways to implement learning into the real world. For a writing class, it is more than simply utilizing different types of grammar; it also includes applying the different ways to think about a real world topic. The writing of the previous parts of the essay are a perfect demonstration of this. For instance, in class this semester, there has been a stress on making connections between things that seem to be unrelated; however, as you dig deeper, you can start to find subtle connections. In my analysis of the Facilities and Heating Plant services, I made connections between their work and my education. On the surface, it would seem the Facilities Services responsibility of giving us “safe, reliable, aesthetically pleasing building and ground” would have very little to do with my ability to learn about plant functions in biology. However, by applying the techniques of making connections, I was able to recognize that they provide us with an environment that fosters my ability to learn. This connection was made by applying my knowledge from class to the real world, which is the goal of integrative learning. It is important to understand that integrative learning comes in all shapes and sizes, even if it takes a little imagination.

Overall, it can be said that making the connections previously discussed is not always easy and often requires a certain degree of imagination. Connecting the Geneseo facilities services and heating plant to our education seemed like a stretch. Fortunately, when utilizing the lessons learned from integrative learning, we are encouraged to find subtle similarities, specifically between the classroom and the outside world, that our minds can put together. Furthermore, when applying integrative learning specifically to INTD-105, all semester we created these comparisons before even knowing what it was called. Comparisons which opened our minds to a form of innovativeness that was unbeknownst to us before the class. When applied correctly, it gives students a sense of purpose. That being said, it can easily be concluded that students will become more willing to be involved in their education when able to connect it to other parts of their lives. These associations allow the student to find purpose in their education, something that is often lost in their minds. For this reason, integrative learning is incredibly important to our education.

Beyond the Surface

The Association of American Colleges and Universities frames integrative learning as “the process that benefits from unique perspectives and yields multiple solutions.” This process usually begins with reflective work or self-assessments, but it often goes beyond the paper to address real world examples like the Department of Facility Services at Geneseo. At first glance, the facilities staff only provides a beautiful campus, but when the focus is narrowed, it is revealed that without that facilities staff working behind the scenes, the students and faculty would not have the means necessary to develop and continue an academic partnership. The facilities website tells us that without the heating plant unit “regulating heat and water twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week”, most of the things that people consider necessities on a campus would cease to exist. How is a student expected to shower without access to hot water? And how is a professor expected to teach a lecture with no heat in the building? These questions are vital to understanding the campus dynamics at Geneseo, and yet they are ones I would not have asked if not for the process of integrative learning. Although a broad scope can be enlightening, it lacked the specificity necessary to develop more details about the staff’s dedication to the furthering of academic partnerships. Through T’Gatoi’s unseen role in binding Tlic and Terran together, Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” demonstrates how the value of members in our community may go unnoticed. Ultimately, integrative learning reveals the value of members within our communities.

T’Gatoi’s role in “Bloodchild” was essential to maintaining the relationship between the Tlic and the Terrans. Butler made the readers aware of an agreement that took place between the Tlic and the Terrans that was facilitated by T’Gatoi because of her role in the Tlic government. When discussing the importance of T’Gatoi on page 5 it says, “Only she and her political faction stood between us and the hordes who did not understand why there was a Preserve” and outlined on page 12, “the law still stood-for our protection… there were stories of Terran families being wiped out” This demonstrates that the agreement between the Tlic and Terrans had been long established, and although the members of the society were unable to take part in the agreement process, they were all protected under its provisions. It was only after Gan narrowed his focus that he realized the Tlic and Terrans coexisted because of the role T’Gatoi played. As readers we must follow Gan’s lead and look deeper at T’Gatoi’s role within her society. She was often misunderstood by not only Terrans who felt “caged by her” but by the Tlic who felt the Terrans didn’t deserve her protection. It requires going beyond our surface interpretations to see someone’s true value. That fundamental misunderstanding of T’Gatoi’s role was one that kept people from looking deeper and in turn, her role truly went unnoticed in her society. Although T’Gatoi’s role went unnoticed, she persisted and created a safe environment where the Tlic and Terrans could coexist.

T’Gatoi’s experience parallels the Geneseo facilities because without them working behind the scenes, the students and faculty would not have the means necessary to develop and continue their academic partnership. Located behind the MacVittie college union, the heating plant unit stands tall within their smokestack building. According to the heating plant website, their staff is comprised of highly trained engineers who are responsible for providing utilities in an efficient yet safe manner. This staff is “on site twenty-four hours, seven days a week,” so we may not have to see the emergency maintenance work done at three in the morning to know that the students have hot water every morning or that lecture halls are heated. This fact, provided by the heating plant website, displays the dedication of the workers. Sacrificing their nights and weekends so that students and faculty don’t have to worry about heat and hot water. The heating plant unit is essential because without them, students and faculty wouldn’t have the basics necessary to foster a health academic relationship. I must admit, prior to visiting their website, I was unaware of exactly what the heating plant unit did for the Geneseo community. But now I realize, even the people we don’t necessarily see can be working together for the betterment of our academic relationships. Although the heating plant staff “works behind the scenes” as stated on their website, their responsibilities impact students and faculty every day, mirroring the life of T’Gatoi who maintained the delicate balance between Tlic and Terran.

At this point, you may be asking yourself “How could all of this important work by the Geneseo facilities staff and T’Gatoi go unnoticed?” Well let’s begin with the facilities staff, whose work also consists of emptying the trash around our campus and general beautification. This part of the job closely mirrors that of your typical janitorial staff, a job that sometimes carries a negative stigma in our society. This negative stigma is one that was also experienced by T’Gatoi, who was seldomly liked in “Bloodchild” because of the tension between the Tlic and Terrans. When people have a misunderstanding of the importance of someone’s role, they may only look at the surface. It isn’t until we allow ourselves to look deeper and go beyond the surface that we gain a true understanding. So, how do we look deeper? Well, that’s the entire process of integrative learning, allowing ourselves to see a different perspective, put away our assumptions, and see how a member’s role in our society can impact our lives.

In a world where our distinguishing factors are essential or non-essential workers, the value of members in our communities have been called into question more now than ever. Let’s be honest, becoming a healthcare professional has always been sought out in our society because the job is well-respected by many. With their skill set, it did not come as a surprise when they were considered part of the world’s essential workers. But roles like cashiers, fast-food employees and warehouse workers have often been overlooked. Prior to the pandemic, these roles were sometimes only perceived as entry-level jobs that anyone could do. Jobs that were reserved for the people lower in our society, either because of the age of the workers or for socio-economic reasons. It wasn’t until the pandemic that we as a society were forced to truly put integrative learning into practice, take a step back and assess the value of the members in our communities. Narrowing the focus of what people need during this time only highlighted the role of these workers. That process forever placed a lens on how we view jobs like cashiers and fast-food workers. As a society, we realized that we can’t function without grocery store workers and the people who deliver our packages every day. I hope that from this experience, we stop the stigma surrounding certain jobs in our society, and we see the crucial role we all play to this world go round.

The Leading Standards for Integrative Learning

Integrative learning is the ability for students to have an understanding of when to make connections between experiences. Integrative learning allows students to become a part of their community to build off connections and expand their knowledge. Students can easily apply their own knowledge into voicing their own opinions and expressing it on a deeper level. Another key point about integrative learning is having the ability to apply the knowledge from the classroom settings to the outside world. Students can, therefore, explore the many different subjects. It brings every student body together from many backgrounds to larger concepts. I feel that this opens many doors for individuals to succeed. This learning capability can help to accomplish many things. This idea of integrative learning has drawn my focus towards Octavia Butler’s story “Bloodchild”, the facility, and heating plant staff. 

There are so many parts to which Geneseo plays a big role in contributing to help support and incorporate academic partnerships between the school and students. According to Facilities Services, they help to establish the safety and security of every student body. It states on the Facilities Services homepage that their job is to “provide quality maintenance services that assure safe, reliable, aesthetically pleasing buildings and grounds”. I believe this plays an important role within the idea of the academic partnership because, in order to meet these standards and ensure everyone’s security, you want to connect with other individuals. This can be achieved by expanding on one another’s knowledge and applying it to the best of their abilities to school grounds. This allows students to also get to know who is behind running certain departments, and it gives them the resources that they need. Facilities services care to see the success in many student bodies, making sure they feel comfortable at the school and getting the resources that they need to succeed. This is indeed an important aspect for students to feel safe and call their place like home. This relates back to “Bloodchild” as the Terrans were risking their lives to be on the Tlic planet just as some students risk their current homes to go away for college. Once students move away to a new college and a new environment they are accepting everything that the school has to offer, they are committing to the school meaning they have to commit and take responsibilities for what the school has to offer them. The same concept falls for Gan’s family in where they decided to move into the Tlic planet and agree to their relationship with the Tlics but they didn’t quite agree to the environment. They came in not knowing the full story to T’Gatoi’s story and it led to some misunderstanding and confusion between Gan, him being the host, and T’Gatoi. 

The Heating plant is a facility made to stress it’s importance in ensuring “high-pressure steam, heating hot water, domestic water, and natural gas”. This all plays a major role in academic partnership and the school. The Heating plant and facilities member work to ensure the safety, security, provide a healthier and cleaner environment. This affects the student because as a student attending Geneseo and living in Geneseo, their academic standing is to continue their studies while also having all the support that they need. The heating plant stands in between ensuring students feel comfortable living on school grounds and working to the best of their ability to make this happen. I feel that students without a clean environment and resources being applied to them can be difficult and enhance the student’s mental health to change drastically. It can affect their academic performance, their grades may drop down, it can cause students to undergo depression and poor health standards. The heating plant has cared to show how much it can help the environment not just the school but if we take precautions and pay attention closely, the heating plant is responsible for “monitoring the energy management system, calculates combustion efficiencies, tests chemicals used to treat boilers” as stated in the heating plant homepage. It’s come to an understanding that from the heating plant homepage our members care to show a lot of commitment towards the needs that Geneseo tempts to offer, and what it takes to ensure the safety for all student body. 

Without the heating plant and facilities services, there wouldn’t be any commitment, responsibility and further action to be taken upon for. Students would lack support from the school. Students would struggle in their daily lives to provide for themselves. Many students will be left without warm water, power, and heat. This can soon cause to demonstrate a decrease in future graduation rates because of the lack of support and resources students are receiving. Not only that but it can cause a disconnection between the school and the student. The idea of a successful academic partnership will no longer be present. There will be a disconnection between facility workers and the students. Without communication, there would be a lack of school improvement and their ability to feel effective. The importance of facilities services and the heating plant will only eliminate a crucial opportunity for students to practice relationships and integrative learning initiatives within their environment if left without the response to profound happiness and success.

The Evident Success of Academic Partnership Through Integrative Learning

The rewards for partnerships that are made within integrative learning may seem hidden, but they do exist, as integrative learning allows for students to potentially become more well-rounded individuals. As the Association of American Colleges & Universities defines it, integrated learning is “an understanding…that a student builds across the curriculum…from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.” In other words, integrative learning is an in-depth learning process that applies its lessons directly towards real-world experiences, using self-reflection as a primary tool for learning and discovering. This process has specifically occurred through the informational sessions within INTD-105 (the Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership) about SUNY Geneseo’s facilities and the connections being made to Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. From these two, we can make strong connections from the many meaningful partnerships that they hold, which is done through the successful process of integrative learning.

Integrative learning has very much to do with the processes I have been engaging in within INTD-105. At SUNY Geneseo, there is no course offered to learn about the inner workings of the college’s facilities such as the heating plant. Therefore, the closest that we will most likely ever get to learn about them would be through a class such as this. By being exposed to these facilities through this course, we are able to see the moving parts of the campus and realize that there is more to its structure than just going to class and meeting with professors, because while colleges could not run without professors, there are many other factors that play into its success as well. When I first came to Geneseo for a tour, the tour guide pointed the heating plant out to us, so I’ve noticed it since before I even actually started going here. As the site that corresponds with the heating plant states, it is responsible for the central heating plant, campus satellite boiler system, energy consumption, and the conservation and upkeep of utility distribution systems. In simpler terms, this means that they provide the campus with hot water, heat, natural gas, and steam. The role of the staff at the campus heating plant is crucial to the academic partnership we have all embarked on because without it, all the students in the residence halls would not have heat or hot water to shower, wash dishes, do laundry, and many other daily activities. The SUNY Geneseo facilities workers also contribute to our course’s values of academic partnership because as stated a video about Geneseo’s facilities, there is lot of room for growth and learning in all the jobs that they have. As Karen Rockhill states, she started as just a custodian, and now she is the head custodial supervisor. Rick Canarvis also talks about how he started as just a custodian and worked his way up until one day, his boss asked if he would like to learn about being a locksmith. Now, he works as a locksmith on campus. The jobs in facilities are ones that you can climb the ladder towards as long as the workers are willing to take the risk of learning something new to be able to gain the reward of a promotion. This process is similar to the growth we can take as students. Starting out as a freshman student, we then climb the ladder every year by taking more classes and becoming more informed and experienced, which can eventually lead to our success.

Integrative learning was especially shown through the reflections having to be made through the book, Bloodchild, that we are required to read. Textbooks and novels are already part of general coursework for most classes, but in this specific class, we have been delving deeper into them by discovering sections from the book that connect to our own lives and the world around us that we would have never thought to have noticed before. All these discoveries thus far have been found through a process of self-reflection, which plays heavily into the role of integrative learning. An example of such reflections would be through making connections between Bloodchild and the SUNY Geneseo heating plant. The connection between the characters in Bloodchild and the facilities/heating plant at Geneseo lies within their goals and intentions. In Bloodchild, T’Gatoi performs transplant procedures on Terrans, but it is not something that she has to do. The eggs inside the Terrans could very easily eat them from the inside out, yet T’Gatoi and others like her instead perform a surgery so that the Terrans can have a chance of living and being able to help raise the child as a family. T’Gatoi’s care is also shown through the fact that she provides Gan’s family with sterile eggs for them to stay young and healthy, and even through fact that Gan was caged within T’Gatoi’s limbs within three minutes of his birth, which is something she does to make others feel safe. This concern for health and safety can also be seen through SUNY Geneseo’s facilities. The heating plants at Geneseo keep the college running smoothly, as many students would not be able to attend without a place to live, and without the heating plant, there would be no place to live. The facilities’ care is also shown through the fact that they are present twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in the event that something goes wrong with their services. Overall, both the heating plant and Tlic like T’Gatoi aim to keep everyone alive. T’Gatoi does this so that families are able to stay together and reproduce so their species continues to exist, while the heating plant provides services that keep students warm and ensures their ability to stay on-campus living a healthy life.

Through the meaningful partnerships in both SUNY Geneseo’s facilities and the characters in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, myself and other students in INTD-105 are able to make connections between themselves and the two, the world around them and the two, and the two themselves. Of course, all would not have been made possible without the process of integrative learning, which has gone above and beyond to thoroughly investigate the creative connections that have been made.

A New Perspective on Bloodchild

Integrative learning is a teaching method that promotes the unification of subjects and encourages students to engage in more realistic situations. According to The Association of American Colleges and Universities, “Integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems, unscripted and sufficiently broad, to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives.” This type of learning is arguably different from the traditional setting, in which subjects would be taught separate from each other and offer no connection. Integrative learning allows students to utilize multiple viewpoints to further their understanding of the connections of Geneseo’s Facilities Services and Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. By teaching in this setting, students are more likely to understand content because they are able to make real world connections and view scenarios from multiple positions. In this essay alone, students were encouraged to apply multiple viewpoints and resources to a single common theme. The Geneseo Facilities Services Department, along with the characters in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, contribute to different levels of academic partnership, and using both sources can maximize our understanding of their impacts.   After analyzing the Facilities Service’s initiatives and comparing them to Bloodchild, I can more accurately see the true relationship of the Tlic and Terran.

Facilities Services contributes to academic partnership, like students and professors do. The Geneseo Facilities Service’s homepage included specific Geneseo Facility employees, who displayed positivity and optimism in their work. Rick Carnavis and Karen Rockwell showed motivation and positive attitudes towards their job. They spoke with integrity and offered advice to the viewers. The Facility Services Department at Geneseo offered many more services than I had known and it is clear that the department is there for the students and likes to watch them grow.  From custodians, to locksmiths, to groundskeepers,  all of the services are in place to benefit Geneseo students. The Geneseo Facilities Service homepage states, “…The Department of Facilities Services provides quality maintenance services that assure safe, reliable, aesthetically pleasing building and grounds.” Students feel comfortable and secure when they feel safe, and this is exactly what The Geneseo Facilities Services strives to do. Nobody wants to live on an unkept campus or take cold showers, and the students at Geneseo do not have to because of the facilities employees. In addition, This demonstrates the dedication the Department of Facilities Services has in ensuring student’s happiness and satisfaction. In doing so, Facilities Services is contributing to academic partnership. The relationship between students and employees in the department is mutualistic because both parties are benefitting. The students benefit from the dedication and hard work facilities services supplies them with. And the department benefits with their constantly increasing knowledge and the ability to meet new people. The employees in the video discussed their opportunities to learn and both showed a desire for growth. Rick Carnavis offers the advice of always accepting other’s offers to learn something new. The department receives interaction with students and an abundance of knowledge, and is rewarded in this way. 

Behind the college union stands the heating plant of Suny Geneseo. According to the heating plant website, the heating plant is responsible for numerous jobs that most of us overlook everyday, including hot water. Energy consumption and conservation and the operation of the central heating plant are also important tasks that the plant employees take on. The site states “The Heating Plant staff is on site twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week. The staff is composed of highly trained engineers that work behind the scenes to operate and maintain the utilities that support the auditorium, library, academic buildings, residence halls, dining halls and athletic facilities.” The staff work to ensure the campus’ heating and electricity is always running smoothly. The employees work all day everyday to provide essential services that most students overlook. The heating plant staff contributes to academic partnership by ensuring the basic needs to maintain almost every building on campus. Their continuous efforts positively affect the students, teachers, and other staff members and it is clear that the university would not be able to function without this department. The Geneseo Facilities Services video mentions the staff being rewarded with learning experiences and growth opportunities, and the heating plant staff is no exception. They are offered the chance to meet new people and grow their careers. They are rewarded by these opportunities and in exchange they provide safe and reliable services for the students. However, the services can sometimes go unnoticed. I personally walked by the heating plant building and smokestack everyday, but never even wondered its purpose. The heating plant staff works very hard to satisfy the student’s needs, but most people overlook these tasks. This contributes to academic partnership because the faculty is willing to risk working these jobs for students, like me, who did not even know what the purpose of their building is. The staff is concerned about safety, learning opportunities, and meeting new people, but are not bothered that they do not often get praise for their job. I feel that these employees are often overlooked, when the university would not be able to function without them.

The Geneseo Facilities Services homepage discusses many of their objectives that allowed me to analyze their purpose at Geneseo. It is quite obvious that Facilities Services is essential to the success of SUNY Geneseo’s students, faculty, and campus, and that the students and college would not thrive without it. This concept can also be applied to the characters of Bloodchild, a short story written by Octavia Butler. In the story, Gan and the other Terrans experience harsh treatments from the Tlic, specifically T’Gatoi. The Terrans are forced to carry the Tlic’s children and act as a host animals for them, and they have no say in this matter. This is a very dangerous and risky process and it is clear why the Gan does not want to participate. After researching The Geneseo Facilities Services, I look at the Tlic and Terran relationship slightly differently. Initially after completing the story, I saw the relationship as unfair and generally sided with the Terran, and while I still acknowledge the unequal use of power between the Tlic and Terran, I understand the full reason the Terran are being forced to carry the Tlic’s offspring. Neither species would be able to survive without the other. In the story there is a brief, but crucial, part discussing the history of the relationship of the Terran and Tlic. It explains that the Tlic gave the Terran protection and reservation, while they were escaping their dangerous homeland. T’Gatoi states, “And your ancestors, fleeing from their home-world, from their own kind who would have killed or enslaved them-they survived because of us. We saw them as people and gave them the Preserve when they tried to kill us as worms” (p. 25). Because of this, they escaped death and slavery. In return, it seems fair that the Terran help the Tlic survive by carrying their young as there is no other convenient way to do so. While it has the potential to be dangerous, it is better than the life they were living. The Terran would not be able to thrive without the Tlic, just as Geneseo would not be able to thrive without the Facilities Services. By analyzing Geneseo’s Facilities Services, I was able to think about ideas in Bloodchild that I would have originally glanced over.The Geneseo Facilities Services and the heating plant work together to offer a better understanding of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. Using integrative learning in this way benefits student’s writing qualities and overall academic development. Students are encouraged to slow down and make connections between several perspectives. In doing so, they are also adapting their intellectual skills which promotes academic growth into a confident learner. This pushes us to adapt our intellectual skills, an internal change the AAC&U deems necessary. By using this process, we were able to include some aspects and goals of integrative learning.

Integrative Learning in INTD 105

Recently in Intd 105 I’ve been introduced to the idea of integrative learning, a learning style with the intention of teaching and reinforcing the real-world application of skills that are taught in a classroom. One may wonder about the importance of integrative learning and how it’s achieved. To start, a key to integrative learning is the development of student’s abilities to form connections between separate disciplines and ideas. The Association of American colleges and universities statement on integrative learning reinforces this idea when they say “Because integrative and applied learning is about making connections, this learning may not be as evident in traditional academic artifacts such as research papers and academic projects unless the student, for example, is prompted to draw implications for practice. These connections often surface, however, in reflective work, self-assessment, or creative endeavors of all kinds.” This explains the importance of having students practice developing connections between ideas that may not initially appear related. An additional goal in achieving integrative learning is expressed by the AAC&U when they claim “Fostering students’ abilities to integrate learning—across courses, over time, and between campus and community life—is one of the most important goals and challenges for higher education”. Here the idea is presented that not only should connections be formed between sperate courses but between campus and community life as well. Furthermore, another key to achieving integrative learning is presented by this AAC&U statement “Indeed, integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems, unscripted and sufficiently broad, to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives.” Here the AAC&U discusses the importance of exposing students to real-world problems and situations because it helps students become more adaptable. I believe these are several important requirements in achieving integrative learning. Throughout the heating plant essay for Intd 105 I noticed much of the work done can be related to integrative learning, largely through how the class has been pushed to form connections between seemingly unrelated concepts as well as how we’ve had to adapt the class as a result of unimaginable circumstances.
These points can be related to our work on our heating plant essays in several ways. First of all being the connections we’ve been pushed to develop between concepts we’ve been introduced in Intd 105 and our campus community. This is illustrated in our first step discussion where Dr.McCoy asked the class to “Visit the Geneseo Facilities Services homepage. There is a short video embedded in the page. Please read the page and watch the video carefully and alertly. As you read and watch, actively keep our course concepts of risk, reward, and academic partnership in mind.” Here we were asked to draw a comparison to the idea of academic partnership and the role of Geneseo’s facility services staff. This led me to draw a comparison from a statement by Karen Rockwell, Academic Head Custodial Supervisor at SUNY Geneseo “There’s a lot of opportunity for growth if your willing to work hard and be apart of a team”. I related this quote to the team mentality we demonstrated in Intd 105 when we comment on and review our peers’ work. I believe this exercise demonstrates the forming of connections between campus and community life.

Additionally, another step we’ve taken toward integrative learning that we’ve worked on during our heating plant essay was forming connections between two seemingly unrelated ideas. This is shown in Dr.McCoy instructions “Now that you’ve spent some time thinkING about your partnership with facilities planning at Geneseo in general and the college’s heating plant in particular, please begin to apply that thinking to your understanding of ‘Bloodchild’.” Here we were asked to view the events of the Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild through the lens of what we had learned about Geneseo’s Facility Staff. This resulted in me realizing that Gan and T’Gatoi as well as Geneseo Students and their Campus require each other to survive. Gan and T’Gatoi demonstrate this relationship when T’Gatoi says “You know these things, Gan. Because your people arrived, we are relearning what it means to be a healthy, thriving people. and your ancestors, fleeing from their homeworld, from their own kind who would have killed or enslaved them-they survived because of us.” This statement explains that both groups would have perished if not for their relationship with each other. A similar relationship exists between Geneseo Students and their campus because students need facility staff if students are going to safely live on campus and without students SUNY Geneseo would be unable to employ staff. I believe this shows a connection between what appears to be two distinct ideas, similar to how one might draw connections between two disciplines.

Finally, during our time writing the heating plant essay we’ve had to overcome several real-world problems. These problems are a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent distance learning period. The main obstacle this created in our heating plant essay was our inability to participate in our planned tour of the heating plant as well as losing the opportunity to meet face to face. However, this was overcome for the most part by the arrangement of online class conferences and chats. This can also be viewed as a demonstration of why adaptability is stressed in the AAC&U statement. All in all, a silver lining can be found in the experience in adapting to real-world problems gained as a result of the tragedy we currently face.

Throughout the writing process of our heating plant essay, we’ve formed several connections between our campus community as well as less obvious connections in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. Additionally, we’ve worked through several real-world problems created as a result of the pandemic we are living through. In conclusion I believe our work on our heating plant essay is an example of applied integrative learning.