Such exciting opportunities, of course, don't just drop into someone's lap. Faculty have to create ways to integrate these programs into jam-packed curricula, then cultivate relationships in the community to support them. The work is admittedly labor intensive.
"You can't assume someone is going to accept your students," points out Nelson Vincent, associate dean and field service assistant professor for the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. "You have to arrange that.
"Someone from criminal justice has to have relationships with the drug court, with Children's Protective Services. Someone has to negotiate relationships and maintain them. Our faculty are out of the building a lot."
Nevertheless, faculty reap personal benefits similar to the students'. "It keeps faculty embedded in what's going on in real places," Vincent says. College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning Dean Judith Koroscik agrees that it "feeds their enthusiasm and energy, and builds their expertise."
On the whole, reality education creates a "much more intellectually challenging student body," says College of Business associate dean Marianne Lewis. "If students have a context into which to put the tools you are teaching them, they can ask better questions. They can debate with you. You can throw out a strategy issue, and students will say, 'I don't think that works, professor.' Faculty love to teach those classes. They're provocative. They're asking tough questions."
The faculty's love of teaching such students is one of the reasons the reality environment has flourished at UC. No one ever told faculty to teach this way; they just fell in love with it.
"This really did grow from the bottom up," Lewis says. "There was not a bunch of bureaucrats pushing it down."