Charlemagne: My lords barons, say whom shall we send up to Saragossa, to [parley with] King Marsiliun?
Duke Neimes: I'll go there for your love; give me therefore the wand, also the glove.
The Song of Roland, a French chanson de geste, ca. 1050, verse xvii.
In a pre-literate society a written contract was not much use. Instead, agreements were often enacted in a formal ceremony in order to fix a memory of the relationship in the community’s oral tradition. In these ceremonies, a ‘gage’ was exchanged—a glove for military or diplomatic service, a clod of earth for land tenancy, a ring for marriage. The gage served as a token of the close relationship that was being created, and it symbolized the mutual exchange of privileges and responsibilities that would persist thereafter. The verb “to engage” has its roots in those ceremonies. It means, literally, the act of exchanging gages, the act of entering into a binding, meaningful, and active relationship. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) believes that college education is best understood as act of engagement in this deep sense, a commitment that defines who you are and what you will become. For that reason, the University has chosen to build its Prospect for Success QEP around the concept of “engagement” in order to ensure that students achieve their fullest potential.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s mission statement commits the institution to providing an ‘exemplary undergraduate’ education that equips students with a strong liberal arts foundation in a robust intellectual environment that values diversity, collegiality, and creativity. Laudable in any context, this mission statement takes on a much deeper resonance in light of the University’s commitment to access and of the socially, economically, and geographically diverse student body it serves. For many students, and particularly for the third who are the first in their family to attend college, the time they have at UNC Charlotte represents a unique and potentially life-changing opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Designed to proactively foster both the extent and depth of students’ engagement, UNC Charlotte’s Prospect for Success QEP will provide all first-time full-time freshmen with the opportunity to participate in a formal engagement curriculum during their first year of enrollment. Recognizing the diverse needs of students in the University’s seven academic colleges, this engagement curriculum takes different forms in different colleges, but all versions of the curriculum have common elements to make manifest to students both aspirational ‘ways of being’ (the value of engagement) and practical ‘things to do’ (how to be engaged).