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The Co-op Experience

Integrative Learning

Cooperative Education faculty members develop mentored co-op experiences with partnering organizations—generally off campus—that allow students to test concepts and theory from the classroom through real-world engagement on problems in the professional realm. The overarching goals of the cooperative education program are to catalyze and steward integrative learning, which we define as the iterative process through which students make connections between core disciplinary knowledge learned in the classroom and their experiences in the settings where they engage with the world.

At the core of the Co-op experience is professional engagement—meaningful work in challenging settings where students generally can expect reasonable compensation for their contributions. During their cooperative work terms, students take on a fulltime job or engage in another significant experiential endeavor for a minimum of thirty hours per week throughout the duration of an eleven-week term. Although paid employment is Co-op’s stock-in-trade, the program is committed to broadening conceptions of the experience in response to changes in the global economy as well as the interests of the current generation of students.

At Antioch, student agency matters!

The Co-op faculty recognizes that a significant number of students hope to use one or more of their cooperative work terms to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities with start-up firms, conduct research related to their majors, engage in artistic productions, position themselves for graduate study through special projects, or experiment with their own professional pursuits. It also understands that some students are interested in proposing a co-op job of their own design in order to pursue their unique ambitions, take advantage of special opportunities, or simply develop a stronger sense of their own agency.

For these reasons, by formal petition to the dean of cooperative, experiential, and international education, students may seek approval to substitute a cooperative education employment opportunity with a self-selected, paid or unpaid internship; a research appointment; or other academically or professionally significant experience that fulfill their own ambitions for learning off-campus as well as the College's work requirement.

Whatever objectives a student pursues, it is their integrative learning that is emphasized.  The common thread that provides cohesion throughout and across the wide variety of co-op experiences on offer is the Work Portfolio coursework that students take concurrently when they are engaged in the field. Their reflection assignments are commonly published in Antioch Engaged, our journal of social practice and professional engagement. Please visit this site to see how current students are engaging the world.