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... we need to abandon the notion that complex problems can be effectively addressed in silos. We need to break out of the idea that only one kind of organization, one leadership approach, one style of academic training can alone address these issues.’’Dana Hamdan, executive director, Career Development Center

Oberlin’s Junior Practicum is a program about seeking purpose in uncertain times. Drawing upon the expertise and experience of professionals in a range of fields, the program offers meaningful educational experiences for students that take place off campus.


Future Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions

The challenges of the future will require interdisciplinary solutions. This truth is at the core of Oberlin’s liberal arts mission; it also was a guiding principle for the Junior Practicum program. Launched in fall 2020, the practicum supported third-year students during their semester away from campus as a result of Oberlin’s three-semester plan. 

Over the course of a month-long remote summit, students heard from visionary leaders in a range of fields about a series of ‘‘Complex Problems.’’ From climate change to public health to reproductive freedom, these keynotes illuminate both the most pressing challenges of our time, as well as the skills and approaches that will help Obies discover their purpose and make a difference.

After opportunities to debrief each keynote, students chose one complex problem to focus on for the remainder of the summit. Working in small teams, students developed potential projects that would work to address their problem of choice, which they then pitched to panels of experienced entrepreneurs.

Keynote Presentations

Career Readiness and Skill-Building Summit

The summit comprises three programming dimensions—skill-building and career readiness; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and investigating alternatives for complex problems. Students joined one of seven early-career communities that featured presentations by accomplished professionals in a wide range of career fields: public health, media, the arts, social and natural sciences, politics and diplomacy, and more.