Johnston: myths vs. reality

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The Johnston Center and its practices can seem like a bit of a mystery, even to others at the U of R. Here are a few misconceptions identified and clarified by Johnston students.

Myth 1: Johnston students just want to get out of doing work

Reality: No letter grades? An option to create projects instead of taking tests? For slackers, this sounds too good to be true … But it turns out, if anything, Johnston students do more work for a class, not less. Says Sean Dunnington ’19, “When you get involved in things that you are really interested in, you’re motivated to work harder.”

“Collectively we are very scholarly,” says Malie Minton ’20. “We spend a lot of time reading and figuring out what we are passionate about and studying. My independent studies involved internships with the Denver District Attorney’s office and working with [U of R] Deputy Title IX Coordinator Erica Moorer. Putting that together yourself requires a lot of effort.”

Plus, evaluations hold students truly accountable for their actions. “If you’re lazy, and you don’t care about the class, your professors will put that in,” Marcus Garcia ’18 says. “A letter grade can gloss over a students’ failings, but if an evaluation can say ‘the student was always asleep in class,’ you can’t argue with that.”

Myth 2: Johnston is an exclusive community

Reality: Johnston may have been culturally and administratively distant from the greater University in its early years, but today that’s much less the case. Today, Johnston students can take College of Arts and Sciences classes and vice versa. “I went to a lot of community events [at the Center]before I was even a student at Johnston,” says Garcia. “I was always welcomed.”

Myth 3: Johnston students are hippies

Reality: The Center was a by-product of the 1960s counterculture movement, but today flexes to support the most contemporary interests, be it genetics or hip-hop. Dunnington rolls his eyes at the old stereotype, but says, “If people associate being a hippie with dancing, putting love into your community, social justice, or showing spirit for what you care about, then, yeah, I’m a hippie!”

Read more about the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies:

  1. The making of a Johnston education: 50 years of student-directed learning
  2. Johnston: A timeline
  3. Creating the book on Johnston
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