Post Classifieds

New INCO Courses Available Next Semester

By Samantha Latos
On October 19, 2018


Plymouth State University has integrated a new INCO course for spring 2019. There are eight classes under this new student-driven capstone course. They cover a variety of topics, and they all involve a signature project. These projects are interactive with the community and are refined throughout the course. Professor Abby Goode explained the initiative, “Students tend to fulfil their INCO by taking a class in their major. We’re thinking about having the INCO not being an INCO, but rather an INCAP, an integration capstone that’s taken outside of the major that doesn’t count towards the major, and that is a capstone to all of Gen Ed courses.” 

Prerequisites for these classes include being near the end of the Gen Ed program, at least at a Junior status. They are all worth 4 credits and all promote student agency through extensive group work, reflection of their knowledge, and taking their ideas outside of the classroom.

Professor Liz Ahl will be teaching one of these classes on the 15th anniversary of the moon landing. There is only going to be one 15th anniversary of the moon landing; this course will not be held again. Students are encouraged to research these courses as soon as possible to ensure they will get a spot. The courses cover several topics, including sustainability and online design. These signature project courses are all unique, and some of them may not be taught again, because they’re either time-sensitive or pilot courses.

“Liz and I have been grappling with the fact that these aren’t English courses. We’re going to have students work in teams of multiple majors,” Goode said. Students interested in these courses should be prepared to do a lot of group work. They should consider how they will share their knowledge in their major with students of other majors.

“It’s kind of like first year seminar, but at a really advanced level,” Goode said, “It’s assessing all of the Gen Ed learning outcomes, the habits of mind that you practice in general education: purposeful communication, being a self-regulated learner, integrative perspective. These habits of mind that in the last year we’ve started to introduce into the Gen Ed program.”

Professor Goode is going to teach a course called American Food Issues: From Fast Food Nation to Farm Stands. An email was sent out to the PSU community including a flyer for the course. The flyer reads, “Engaging in current environmental debates about food politics and organic farming, students will develop and propose their own solutions to pressing food issues within their community.” This course will include reading books based on food and food politics, and coming up with an intellectually sound plan to fix one specific food issue.

“The class is inspired by a course I taught a couple years ago called Eating American Literature, which is an American Literature course, specifically focused on food, agriculture and environment,” Goode said, “We read foundational food writing that was specifically about exploring industrial agriculture and organic farming.” Many English majors fulfilled their INCO by taking Eating American Literature. That class tended to be half English majors, and half other: adventure ed, health, ESNP, and education. This class may run again; if so, it would be taught every other year.

The Eating American Literature course required interacting with local businesses, “They had to visit an organization, like Peppercorn downtown or Local Foods Plymouth,” she said, “They interviewed people at that organization, and linked the organization to the literature that they had been reading.”

This new class will also compel students to get involved with the outside world. “Students will decide on a problem or an initiative that they might develop in their community. It might involve developing a marketing plan to encourage more vendors or more attendance at local farmers markets for the fall for local foods, because they’ve had a downturn in attendants,” Goode said, “Or it could involve some sort of sustainable foods initiative on campus.” This aspect of the course is student-driven, which is one of the general characteristics of the course itself. 

Another innovative aspect of this course is that it will be conducive to all fields of study. “This course is very different from [the Eating American Literature] course, in that it’s not an English course,” Goode said. American Food Issues: From Fast Food Nation to Farm Stands is open to all majors. The class will have an English influence since Goode is an English professor, but she is hoping that students from different majors will collaborate on different ideas through offering their expertise, therefore enriching group discussions.

A classroom full of different majors will surely have an interesting conversational dynamic. With that being said, certain majors may have an initial advantage. “The idea behind the course is that a biology major is advanced enough in their major that they can bring a knowledge of biology to a team of English, political science, and sociology majors, and come together to work on some sort of pressing food issue.” Not many majors specialize in agriculture and science. Those who are knowledgeable of those fields of study will be able to help other students understand the context of the readings. This is another strategy that promotes a student-driven course.

“My wish list is that it will be all these different majors,” Goode said, “But I predict it will be a mix of English, ESNP, environmental science and political science, adventure education, biology, some health promotion and education, and some early childhood, elementary ed, and interdisciplinary studies.” She noted that it would be interesting to see some anthropology and sociology majors in this course, and see what they will offer to class discussion.

This is will be a pilot course. If it gets approved, it will be introduced into the curriculum. Those who are interested should take the opportunity to take it next spring, since there is a chance that it won’t get approved.

The food crisis will continue. This class will connect the content knowledge in any major to the outside world.

Completion of this course will benefit students long-term. Working in a multidisciplinary team is an accomplishment in itself. “It’s an opportunity for them to have an experience in a course that is their own signature work that they developed,” Goode said, “I won’t feed them a specific assignment; they will help me develop the project they want to work on. If things go well, they walk away with something that they can put on their resume.” This will help students stand out on job applications. Students will be able to say that they worked at local farm organizations or local businesses, developed an educational initiative, or even proposed an initiative to a panel of experts. It will effectively prepare students for the professional world.

For more information on these INCO courses, visit

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