Cluster Glossary

The cluster guides have been working hard all summer to come to some common understandings about the cluster initiative. In particular, we have created a sort of glossary so that we can all be on the same page when we use certain words and phrases.

An integrated cluster is:

An organizational unit comprised of Plymouth State University faculty, staff and students who come together with the intention to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary work that transcends or takes advantage of individual disciplines and aligns with the specific Cluster focus. Additional Cluster participants are Partners and other external stakeholders (for example, alumni, governmental agencies, businesses, other academic institutions, etc.), as well as internal stakeholders such as PSU Centers and student organizations. Academic programs are affiliated with specific Integrated Clusters, but individual faculty members and students can choose to be active participants in multiple Clusters. Each Cluster has an individual identity, as defined in its Mission Statement. Cluster participation can occur through Projects, Activities, curriculum and other teaching and pedagogical activities, and through service.

An open lab is:

Physical or virtual space that supports Integrated Clusters by enabling engagement and collaborations between PSU faculty, staff, students and external Partners and stakeholders in order to identify, discuss, and address real-world issues and problems. Open Labs do not belong to a specific Cluster, nor do they necessitate a physical space on campus. Several collaborative spaces have been developed across campus.

A cluster project is:

A well-defined activity or group of activities that together have clear scope, duration, resource commitment, objectives and measurable high impact outcomes. Cluster Projects are endorsed by one or more Integrated Clusters; they are interdisciplinary in nature, and they involve a team of different types of participants (appropriate combinations of students, faculty, staff, external partners) collaboratively leveraging service, scholarship and research activities. Projects provide students with experiential, high impact learning activities and real-world experience beyond their classes. Projects might address specific needs of the University, the local or regional community, external Partners, or other stakeholders, and support and reflect the mission of the endorsing Clusters.

Cluster activities are:

Teaching, service, outreach, or scholarly activities that support an Integrated Cluster. Cluster Activities occur outside the context of a specific Cluster Project but can be involved in supporting such projects. Cluster Activities do not have a clearly defined timeframe and can be ongoing, but must have a clear relationship with the Cluster or Clusters within which they occur.

And finally, cluster partners are:

External, non-PSU, stakeholders whose interests, values, needs and/or resources align with PSU and the Integrated Cluster with which they have a relationship. Partners can serve in advisory roles or can be contributors to Projects or other Activities (service, curricular, etc.). Partners are active participants; they contribute to the Cluster (with information, expertise, funding, etc.) and in turn receive value from the relationship (experiences, problem solutions, increased knowledge, understanding, etc.). This distinguishes Partners from other potential external stakeholders with whom there might only be one-way informational relationships.

We have also come up with a list of success measures for the upcoming academic year. I’ll write about those in my next blog post.

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