EPIC Learning

Externally-collaborative, Project-based, Interdisciplinary Curricula for Learning


Man showing a pipe and pointing at the ceiling

Implementation Calendar

The Strategic Planning Committee chose a 20-year timeline to achieve our BHAG to be nationally recognized as the university of choice for externally collaborative, project-based,interdisciplinary, curricula for learning. To achieve this goal by 2032, we have to start moving our curricula in that direction now. The sooner we start moving, the more time we’ll have to get it right.

Extra-curricular EPIC Learning opportunities for students are in place through Accelerate, Wentworth Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center and the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships. Many students have taken advantage of these activities already and by Fall of 2015, opportunities for all of our students to participate in some form of EPIC Learning should be in place as an integral part of our curricula as well.

  • The Fall 2013 semester was used by the provost, department chairs and deans to identify the most important steps needed to effectively implement EPIC Learning for all students in the Fall 2015 semester.
  • The Spring 2014 semester will be used by the faculty in the departments to plan changes.
  • Summer and Fall 2014 are available to prepare any curricular changes that might be necessary.
  • Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 are for obtaining Institute Curriculum Committee approvals (if needed) so that changes can be submitted to the registrar.

Implementation Priorities

Seen on a longer timeline, some form of EPIC Learning opportunity will begin for all students in Fall 2015. We can review these initial trials and improve them for the Fall 2016 semester and begin expanding EPIC Learning, if it’s successful, in Fall 2017. We have from Fall 2017 to Fall 2027 for the development of a full EPIC Learning approach. Finally, we have the five years from 2027 to 2032 to achieve our BHAG, national recognition as the university of choice for EPIC Learning.

Priorities for Implementation of EPIC Learning

The Academic Leadership Team (ALT) identified priorities that must be focused on to implement EPIC Learning at Wentworth by Fall 2015. This spring the ALT is working on the first 6 priorities.

  1. Curricular Modifications
  2. Communication and messaging
  3. Funding and resources
  4. Criteria and metrics for success (assessment)
  5. External collaborators - identification and participation
  6. Scheduling

The Humanities and Social Sciences department is currently restructuring its curriculum to include EPIC Learning. LEARN MORE

Experimentation is Highly Encouraged!

A half a day a week will be set aside in student schedules to collaborate on EPIC Learning projects and allow us the time needed to make EPIC Learning a reality. A common time block can be used by all faculty in whatever way is needed to begin implementing some form of EPIC Learning. The possibility of 0-4-2 courses during that half-day is only one possible example of how to implement EPIC Learning. It is not the only possible solution! As we move forward, faculty should use their imagination and innovation to produce superior results for Wentworth students. Experimentation is highly encouraged! Not all of these experiments will work. Faculty will not be penalized for trying out new approaches. Some will work and some won’t. We learn at least as much from failure as success.

Read about current examples of EPIC-Learning at Wentworth.

Extra-Curricular Immersion

Accelerate offers Startup Challenge, Social Innovation Lab, College Think Tank Boston, and the newly launched Adventures. The programs offer different levels of engagement from workshops to one-day immersions with community and industry partners to more longer-term programming. Students may participate with an idea they have as a result of their course work or in parallel to the projects they are currently developing in class.

The Center for Community Learning and Partnerships (CLP) engages students in projects that build capacity and offer professional services to community organizations throughout the Boston area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will ALL students be involved in EPIC-Learning?

Do you really mean ALL students, including first-year students?

Will our current studios/labs count?
They need to be EPIC. If so, they count.

How will faculty loads be calculated?
It depends completely on the structure of the class.

Does external mean an industry partner?
No. It includes many other possibilities – universities, government, non-profits, hospitals, foundations, etc.

But we’re already doing this, why do we have to change?
Yes, we do have EPIC Learning examples around campus, but not ALL students or ALL departments are involved.

What about space?
We don’t have any new space, yet. When Sweeney Field is developed, we will have a new Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation.

Are we the first ones to do this?
Definitely not. There are many examples of similar approaches being used elsewhere. Mankato State, Cal Poly, WPI, Olin, MIT, etc.

How do we know EPIC Learning will work?
There’s at least 60 years of evidence - pedagogical, neurobiological, empirical.

Is this in addition to our current curricula?
No, our curricula will need to be changed to accommodate EPIC Learning.

Can we add more SCH to our curricula?
No! The curricular guidelines remain the same. The curricula must be changed.

How will this affect accreditation?
Most accreditation works one of two ways: (1) you define the outcomes and objectives and then assess how well you achieve them; (2) there are specific requirements that must be met. Both of these can be addressed using the EPIC Learning approach. This has been successfully done by other institutions.

Kotter Change Process

John Kotter’s Eight Steps of Change. [Illustr. by John Kotter.] Used with permission from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Rockville, MD. Source: TeamSTEPPS® [Team Strategies to Enhance Performance & Patient Safety] Fundamentals Course (“Module 1–Introduction, Slide 27.”(June 2006).

One of the approaches used by the Academic Leadership Team (ALT) in their work on making EPIC-Learning a reality at Wentworth is an 8 Step Process for Successful Change pioneered by Harvard’s John Kotter. In his book “Our Iceberg is Melting” (Kotter, 2005), Kotter tells a story about a penguin colony in Antarctica who find themselves in a potentially devastating situation and they must change in order to survive. The characters are like people we recognize and their tale is one of resistance to change and heroic action to overcome obstacles.

The 8 step change process is:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Put together the guiding team
  3. Develop the change vision and strategy
  4. Communicate for understanding and buy in
  5. Empower others to act
  6. Produce short-term wins
  7. Don’t let up
  8. Create a new culture

Additional resources and ideas can be found at http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/our-iceberg-is-melting.

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