What is Practicum?
All McBride students need to fulfill a three-credit “Practicum,” which emphasizes experiential education, cultural immersion, and course design. The practicum is similar to an independent study, but with a twist. The goal of the course is for you to pursue a worthwhile experiential learning opportunity – that is, to “learn by doing.”
Essentially, you will be challenged in two key ways: You must first design an experiential educational opportunity worthy of three McBride credits, and then do it. This asks you to think not only about what kind of experience you want to have, but also asks you to consider some of the larger aspects of good course design: what do I want to get out of this experience? What are my learning objectives? How will this experience benefit not just me, but a broader community? You have many options to develop an individualized study program that facilitates your own personal, intellectual, and professional goals. Possibilities include, but are not limited to: studying or interning abroad, engaging in research in science or public affairs, learning through service to your community, working as an intern in a way that interfaces the public, and many other options.
Figuring out what to do for practicum is a big part of the challenge. Take a look at this website, talk to people on campus, and keep your eyes out for practicum related events and presentations. Do some brainstorming. Set aside initial concerns about time and money and general feasibility, and begin instead with something that you genuinely want to spend time doing, something that brings you joy. Be sure to look over the practicum proposal form, and make an appointment with Justin Latici. Recognize that a good practicum often requires roughly a semester’s worth of preparation and several meetings as you begin planning for your adventure. Give yourself plenty of time.
If your practicum has expenses associated with it McBride can often offset some of those. Following are links to the Enrichment Award application and expense worksheet. Please also note the deadlines for these applications. Reach out to Justin Latici if you have any questions about the enrichment award process.
Enrichment applications will be reviewed twice per semester on the dates below, and early applications will receive priority consideration.
- For Summer and Fall Travel: February 15th and April 12
- For Winter and Spring Travel: September 13th and November 11th
Check out some of the fantastic work and experiences that other McBriders have done. Still looking for opportunities? Check out some of the following links that cover a range of opportunities.
- Colorado science and engineering policy fellowship
- Ethics bowl
For my practicum, I decided to explore the geologic precursors to Cincinnati’s development and modern state. To start, I read the book Origins by Lewis Dartnell, in which Dartnell asserts and justifies that the “Earth set the stage for the human story and its resources continue to direct human civilization” (Dartnell 287). Naturally, this led me to wonder how my own hometown, Cincinnati, has been shaped by its geologic history. To find out, I first established a background of the region’s geology and spoke with local experts at the Cincinnati Museum Center to narrow my research. Specifically, I ended up focusing on the glacial history surrounding Cincinnati’s waterways. Early on, I discovered that downtown Cincinnati is located atop a terrace formed by an eroded glacial moraine which saved it from the Ohio River’s floods in its settlement. I also found that significant glacial outwash carved the wide basin around the Mill Creek, allowing for its banks to become a primary transportation corridor and industrial hub. These conclusions, along with others, showed me that before a single cobblestone was ever laid down, Cincinnati’s future was shaped by the geologic history of the land on which it was built. Furthermore, through this practicum, I learned that as humans, we live in pockets of geologic affordance and expand along paths of least resistance. Therefore, “nature” is not necessarily limited to landscapes untouched by humans, but is rather embedded in the development of even the densest cities.
At the conclusion of my practicum, I submitted a summary of these findings and conclusions to the Cincinnati Enquirer. This summary ended up being published locally in some versions of the print Enquirer on January 8th, 2022.
His Contact Info:
For my practicum, I studied abroad in the summer of 2021 in Ireland, excavating a 12th century castle and explore my own cultural heritage through research, first-hand exploration, and reflection. I was able to apply the skills I have learned studying geological engineering to understand the material culture and impact humans can have on the landscape around them in a period 800 year before our own. The continuities of geology and archaeology are astounding, and at their simplest definition, they are both about figuring out what happened in the past and how things came to be (although on different time scales). This curiosity is what I pursued during my field experience. Combined with the opportunity to live with a family in the Irish country-side and converse with community volunteers working on the dig I was not simply observing the culture, but rather interacting with it. I lived with other students from a diverse range of fields of studies, experiences and locations connecting beyond work in Ireland’s trademark social establishments, the pub. I recorded my time in an all-encompassing blog for my ‘clicks, digs and swigs’. Upon my return I integrated images from my travels with those taken in my own home to explore and demonstrate the connection of my own life with a place that happened to feel like one itself.
Her Contact Info:
For my practicum, I am exploring the relationship between nature and people’s well-being. I started by doing some research, creating and distributing a survey, and doing some more research based on those responses. From that information, I came up with ten different “excursions”/”adventures” for me to embark upon and experience. These “excursions” include driving a scenic byway, the difference in nature’s impact on you during a 14er hike versus a 20-minute walk, and fishing. During and after these experiences, I am reflecting on, evaluating, and paying attention to how certain aspects of being in/around nature impact my well-being, all based on my own experiences and perceptions as well as what I learned from the survey and my research. From here, I write up my reflections on these and add a component representing my experience – this component could include a photograph that I took, a poem that I wrote, or an artistic piece that I created. I am currently in this “During” stage of my practicum, and I plan on using my experiences from this stage as well as my research from the previous stage to create something that will help others improve their well-being through nature. I have always been greatly moved by elements of nature, and I wanted to know more about why simply being in and experiencing these elements impacts and can improve aspects of our well-being. I also hope that understanding more about this phenomenon may enable me to help others 1) understand and harness the benefits of nature and 2) do so even in our ever-so-busy lives.
Her Contact Info:
For my practicum, I embarked on an adventure into my kitchen and an exploration into the world of food. My plans (like most people’s) were drastically changed with the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020, forcing me to find an idea for my summer practicum that didn’t involve traveling to Iceland as originally planned. So, given my inexperience with cooking, I decided to spend my practicum learning how to cook! Along the way, I not only learned the fundamentals of cooking, but I was actually able to produce some fantastic meals, including shrimp scampi and linguini, buttermilk marinated roast chicken, and Christmas pasta, a family tradition. As part of my experience, I was able to explore our intricate connection with food. I did this through investigating food literature and by visiting the Golden community garden and Pure Foods Colorado, a local organic farm near Colorado Springs. Most importantly, the highlight of my practicum involved the people I experienced my food with, as I realized how powerful food can be in cultivating relationships. Whether it was grilling Ribeye at a barbeque with my buddies or cooking French toast in the middle of Canyonlands with my family, food truly has the power to bring people together and make us better because of it.
His Contact Info:
For my practicum, I co-chaired the planning of the Rocky Mountain Regional Student Conference that Mines was scheduled to host in April of 2020. Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) hosts various regional competitions around the country in which colleges create, present, and race the concrete canoes they created. I was able spearhead the planning efforts that made the conference come to life!
Her Contact Info:
For this practicum, I took my own personal experiences of foreign travel, that of study abroad in Japan and the Nepal Hike for Help trip, and attempted to write stories which held some connection between the experiences. In other words, I wanted the stories of both Nepal and Japan to have overlaps and connections. The connection piece was shown more clearly through song. For each set of stories, I wrote a set of lyrics as well as well guitar (and eventually production) which encapsulated some of the emotional experiences and lessons learned while living these stories. Although based around reality, much of the stories were also fictionalized to provide greater depth to the writing. To showcase the pieces and music, a website was made where all of the writing was stored and audio files for the music were embedded. In addition, voice overs of the stories were made to provide a fully audio based experience when moving through them (incomplete at the time of writing this, hopefully done at the time of you reading this). The stories are placed in a specific order, but the order in which they’re read doesn’t really matter.
Youtube (there’s not much on it yet, but maybe around summer 2021): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0ME7lF6Ge0UfxEcHc60BOw
To view the rest of the practicum cohort page...
click this link