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2018-2019 Common Experience

: a new idea, device, or method
: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

—Merriam-Webster Dictionary app for iPhone

Since its inception in 2004, the Common Experience has presented an academic theme each year at Texas State University. Events and activities have expanded far beyond the experiences of first-year students; the initiative has extended its impact across divisions — and to all levels — through cooperation and collaboration among students, faculty, staff, administration, and members of the community. The sustained success of the Common Experience has made Texas State a national leader in first-year experience (FYE) approaches and campus-wide collaborations.

The key to this sustained success: Innovation.

Contributors to the Common Experience — from theme developers to event planners to classroom instructors and the students themselves — have been innovative in their approaches to each theme. And while collaborators often look back for ideas, they always generate new concepts and goals and outcomes, moving forward. When the ideas have been most engaging, students have carried the conversation forward themselves, proud of their experiences and their university.

During the same time that the Common Experience has grown and evolved, Texas State as a whole has expanded tremendously. Total enrollment has increased from 29,105 in Fall 2008 to 38,694 in Fall 2017. The university has earned designations as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and an Emerging Research University (ERU). Construction has often seemed nonstop, and yet at the same time, divisions and departments have had to find new ways to more efficiently utilize existing programs and spaces as the institution’s reputation and expectations have risen.

The shared solution: Innovation.

Now Texas State prepares to embark on a new journey toward national prominence, another milestone of which students, alumni, faculty, staff, administration, and community members can be proud.

The force powering this undertaking: Innovation.

Areas of Exploration

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Student musicians performing onstage


Scuba divers taking notes on readings at bottom of Spring Lake


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The 2018-19 Common Experience theme focuses on innovation as a means to engage students, faculty, staff, and the community/region in a conversation about the ideas and opportunities that will shape our future, here at Texas State and throughout the world — and beyond.

This theme presents an opportunity not only for innovation to inspire a conversation but also for that conversation to inspire innovation. With eyes to the future, we have an opportunity to draw the connections between the world of innovation and Texas State while also raising Texas State's visibility and reputation in innovating the world.

Expectations are high:

“Today, research at Texas State commands national attention, and students and faculty are working side by side on cutting-edge research projects. The next generation of researchers, inventors and innovators are right here in our classrooms and laboratories. And their work is aimed at profoundly changing Texas and our country for the better. …[I]t's a good bet that Texas State will have a significant impact on how our state is shaped.”

—“Innovation and Exploration,” Hillviews Magazine

While the term "innovation" often calls to mind the STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — there is much more to consider. Areas we will examine, both on campus and around the globe, include these comprehensive categories: teaching and learning; creative arts; and research and scholarship. Community partners will also be a crucial part of our 2018-19 Common Experience.

Geographically, this theme touches all parts of Texas State's campuses, from the St. David's School of Nursing in Round Rock to the STAR Park at the periphery of San Marcos; from the Forensic Anthropology Center to the Performing Arts Center; from the PACE Center to Alkek Library's YouStar Studio. Recent areas of research and activity by Texas State students have extended from the Lower Pecos Canyonlands on the northeast edge of Chihuahuan Desert (anthropology/archaeology) to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston (engineering partnership). And new innovations come to light daily in world news — some affecting our lives with immediacy, and other affecting the ways in which we look to the stars.

Innovation is sometimes simple and sometimes remarkably difficult. Major obstacles can hinder progress on any project in any discipline, whether inside a classroom or outside in fieldwork — both in education and the workplace. How we overcome those obstacles demonstrates yet another dimension to innovation.

The world is rapidly changing, and this Common Experience theme aspires to immerse students in that change to become active participants in it.

Many voices. One theme: Innovation.