Crucial to the mission of the Center for Skills and Experience Flags (CSEF) are its five flag committees, each charged with interpreting the criteria for their respective flag(s), approving courses to carry flags, and advising CSEF on assessment and faculty development. The committees consist primarily of faculty with expertise related to the flag area, representing the various colleges and schools that offer undergraduate degrees, and each committee also includes an undergraduate student representative.

We are excited to announce our very first cohort of graduate representatives to these committees: they will serve as liaisons with graduate student instructors across campus, helping…

Ancient vessels; Source: Free Pik
Ancient vessels; Source: Free Pik
Source: Freepik

University of Texas at Austin alumna Rachel Kubitz (Bachelor of Arts, Classical Studies/Archeology, 2020) took an ethics-flagged course taught by Dr. Adam Rabinowitz during her freshman year; it inspired Kubitz to change her major to and learn ancient Greek, and eventually led her to focus on archaeology. She now teaches high school students at Austin’s Waterloo School, which encourages project-based learning meant to prepare students with real world skills.

Her experience in Rabinowitz’s undergraduate class — titled “Methods and Approaches” — also inspired Kubitz to create her own ethics-centered archeology course for high school students. We spoke with her about…

The Writing Flag Award is an annual competition held by The School of Undergraduate Studies and the Center for Skills & Experience Flags that recognizes the best writing produced by University of Texas undergraduates in courses carrying the Writing Flag.

This year there were 356 submissions to the contest in four different categories: Critical/Persuasive, Humanities Research, Lab Research and Creative/Reflective. The 2019 award winners, who typically would be honored at a spring ceremony, received over $2,000 collectively for their winning work.

Due to the closure of campus from COVID-19, this year’s award ceremony was canceled, but winners will be recognized…

Five students sit in front of microphones at a table in a conference room. The panel moderator stand to the right of them.
Five students sit in front of microphones at a table in a conference room. The panel moderator stand to the right of them.
The student panel at the 10 Years of Flags Symposium speaks answers questions for the audience. From left to right: Zarah Dehri, Sarah Garcia, Maher Rahman, Ishank Arora, Oishik Saha and Moderator Liz Grahm. Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar

10 years ago, the Center for Skills & Experience Flags (CSEF) was formed as a part of the Commission of 125’s call to equip undergraduates with degree plans that teach them to think critically, write cogently, engage in inquiry and discovery, examine ethical questions, and learn about other cultures. On October 11, 2019, the CSEF hosted a symposium featuring faculty and students to celebrate 10 years of work and look to the future.

This semester, we caught up with four of the student panel members to discuss the impact Flag courses have had on their time at the University of…

Ashley Coleman Taylor stands in front of a classroom of students with a white board full of writing behind her.
Ashley Coleman Taylor stands in front of a classroom of students with a white board full of writing behind her.
Ashley Coleman Taylor speaks to students in the Introduction to LGBTQ Studies course she teaches. Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar

The study of any subject in the academic world has traditionally lacked the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) peoples’ history and impact. “Introduction to LGBTQ Studies,” which carries both a Cultural Diversity and Writing Flag, aims to provide students at the University of Texas at Austin the space and tools to explore concepts of gender and sexuality, race, class, religion, and nation on theoretical and historical levels.

Students, according to the course’s syllabus, are equipped with the materials needed to answer questions like: What is the meaning of the acronym “LGBTQ,” and how did we arrive…

Thomas Garza stands in the front of a classroom of students holding a book and gesturing to the screen behind him.
Thomas Garza stands in the front of a classroom of students holding a book and gesturing to the screen behind him.
Thomas Garza reads a passage to his introduction to Slavic Civilization course, “The Vampire in Slavic Cultures.” Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar

Vampires have been around for centuries, or at least the myth of the vampire has. Every other fall, students at the University of Texas at Austin get the chance to explore this myth, from origins to present day, in “The Vampire in Slavic Cultures,” an introduction to Slavic Civilization course that carries a Global Cultures Flag.

The course examines the vampire in the cultures of Russia and Eastern Europe, including manifestations in literature, religion, art, film and common practices from its origins to present day, according to the description in the course catalogue. …

Christian McDonald tells his students in his Reporting with Data course: “We don’t tell stories about numbers. We tell stories about people.” McDonald, who has won multiple awards for his work in data journalism, wants to show students how data can be a powerful source for their writing. Just as interviews, photographs, and videos are potential sources for stories, data is also a source. However, many of the Journalism students he sees in the classroom don’t have the skills to use it. …

UT Austin students gain a different view of the American educational system in Professor Luis Urrieta’s Sociocultural Influences on Learning course. Urrieta teaches about the U.S. educational system through the lens of minority groups’ experiences. Instead of seeing education as a way to fill a gap or deficit in underserved communities, Urrieta wants students to “reframe education from the perspective of cultural wealth.” Urrieta’s asset-based approach to teaching about minority communities reflects a key aspect of the Cultural Diversity Flag’s goal to increase “familiarity with the variety and richness of the American cultural experience.”

Professor Urrieta began teaching this course…

Professor Patricia García, a lecturer in the Department of English at UT Austin, whose teaching experience ranges from middle school to university classrooms, is no stranger to the difficulty of helping students develop writing and analytic skills. Although she has spent many years in the classroom, she is still looking for new ways to help students improve their writing. In her Latinx Short Story course, García engages students in dialogue, both with herself and with their peers, to help them develop these skills. This model for developing students’ writing skills through ongoing feedback reflects the importance of high-quality instructor feedback…

In Professor Kristin Harvey’ statistics and data analysis courses, discussing ethics goes hand in hand with understanding probability distributions, t-charts, and regressions. In her introductory statistical methods courses (SDS 301 and SDS 302) she wants students’ critical analysis to go beyond reading a t-table or regression plot. She wants the students to understand the complexity of conducting research and the ethical implications of the process. Understanding this complexity challenges the students to carefully evaluate and critically analyze the information they consume on a daily basis.

Harvey, who has won multiple awards for innovative teaching, has worked closely with the Center…

UT Austin Flags

The Center for the Skills & Experience Flags provides resources and support for the general education shared by all undergraduates at UT Austin.

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