WestARCHES Program

Jen Simonds, Director

Program Description

WestARCHES is an integrative learning program that enhances the value of participation in a wide range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities and prepares students to translate passions into exciting career options.

The WestARCHES Program (Westminster Action Research through Community, Holistic Education, and Service) grew out of the Westminster Scholars program and provides seminar-style learning for students to gain experience in community-based research while developing skills in leadership, collaboration, diversity, and global concepts during freshman and sophomore years.

Later in the program, students design Individual Development Plans with a mentor to organize and deepen the value of the variety of curricular and co-curricular experiences that are possible through an interdisciplinary set of opportunities at Westminster. Possible experiences that may be included in Individual Development Plans include internships, study abroad programs, undergraduate research, independent study, May Term international study experiences, specific coursework, service learning, and more.

Program Goals

  • Students will demonstrate self-awareness, understanding of effective group dynamics, and project management skills. Students will show comprehension of the collaborative process and active participation in leadership.
  • Students will articulate knowledge of global, social, and ethical awareness from the standpoint of its relevance to their lives.
  • Students will demonstrate proficiency in the research process from planning to developing methods to collecting data/evidence to analyzing/processing data/evidence and presenting conclusions and implications of outcomes.
  • Students will learn about the many types of service e.g. direct and indirect service, social change, and implications for social justice.  Students will demonstrate that they are able to approach service with an attitude of respect and equity.  Students will demonstrate an understanding of the reciprocal nature of service learning.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of connections among curricular and co-curriculular learning experiences, from simple relationships to synthesis and transfer of learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.
  • Students will develop and complete elements of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that includes curricular and co-curricular elements.  Individual Development Plan completion will include clear connections between activities (curricular and co-curricular) and learning goals put forth in the IDP.

Admissions Criteria

Incoming freshmen students who apply for the WestARCHES program will be ranked according to the following criteria: ACT or SAT scores, high school GPA, and the quality of a written statement in response to a given prompt. The top twenty students will be invited to join the WestARCHES program.

In addition, applications for the WestARCHES program will be accepted in fall and spring each year, with admission possible through the second semester of Sophomore Year or beginning of junior year for transfer students who have prior related experience.

Distinctions and Benefits

  • Provides experience through collaborative hands-on research experience to develop skills that support learning in many areas
  • Allows for students to be part of an inclusive cohort of active and engaged learners in small seminar classes
  • Creates a foundation for synthesizing information and integrating learning from traditional and non-traditional sources
  • Organizes and creates learning themes around the wide range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities available at Westminster
  • Offers intensive student-centered courses, with students in active roles
  • Enhances opportunities for independent field and scholarly research in and outside of courses
  • Provides connection with mentors from peer and professional groups
  • Supports exploration of customized majors
  • Makes possible paid summer research opportunities working one-on-one with faculty mentors
  • Streamlines access to local, national, and international service opportunities and travel
  • Provides career connections to understand how passions can be translated into future professional endeavors

Criterion for Earning a WestARCHES Designation on Transcript

Students must successfully complete five WestARCHES seminars and complete an Individual Development Plan. These courses may not be taken credit/no credit.

  • 2 Credits from WARCH 100
    WARCH 100   (2 cr.)
  • At least 2 credits from WARCH 200
    WARCH 200  (2 cr.)
  • 2 Credits from WARCH 250
    WARCH 250  (2 cr.)
  • At least 4 total credits of WARCH 350
    WARCH 350  (2 cr.)
  • Completion of the Individual Development Plan
  • The Individual Development plan must include projects, research, internship, coursework, etc. that constitute the equivalent of a minimum of 6 credit hours.

Students entering the program after fall of freshman year may apply for Prior Learning Assessment to earn WARCH 100 and/or 200 credit for previous research and/or service learning experiences.

WARCH 200 and 350 may be repeated for credit

WestARCHES Suggested Course Trajectory

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year Learning Community: WARCH 100 & WCore Course WARCH 200
Sophomore Year

WARCH 200


WARCH 250

Junior Year

WARCH 350


WARCH 350

Senior Year

WARCH 350


WARCH 350

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