Dan Kline, Passport State Facilitator for the state of Alaska, is a professor of English and director of general education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, which became a member of the Interstate Passport Network in 2018. Dan was instrumental in shepherding UAA through the application process; he also serves as the institution liaison for UAA. He has lived and worked in Alaska since 1997.
UAA is an open-access institution and one of three regional universities in the state. It is comprised of the Anchorage campus plus four community campuses. The two other universities in the state – UA Fairbanks and UA Southeast – just became members of the IP Network this spring (with assistance from Dan as well). Each of the three state universities is comprised of a four-year campus and a number of community colleges in each region – a merger that took place in 1986. This structure, while not without its distinct challenges, has provided for some consistency and stability in the higher education system in Alaska.
As the director of general education Dan oversees alignment of the curriculum and course offerings in general education and works to achieve consistency across all campuses – an objective that has been aided by the Passport Learning Outcomes. Dan notes that, “General education is now becoming the mark of what a UAA graduate is. It has become the place where we can articulate the distinctiveness of UAA students.”
Now that all campuses in the state university system will award and accept the Passport, the general education curriculum across the state is aligned with the Passport outcomes. And with the whole system participating in the Passport Network, the Banner student information system will be programmed to record and report data on Passport students.
Like in other states before the Interstate Passport, students who transferred between campuses in Alaska had their credits accepted. Now Alaska students will be able to transfer to Network member institutions in other states and receive credit for completed coursework. Dan is pleased that this will be especially beneficial for the large military population in Alaska (stationed at nine bases across the state) along with the Network membership of the Community College of the Air Force.
In fall 2018 UAA enacted an Alaska Native general education requirement that requires all incoming UAA students to take an Alaska Native-themed course. UAA is the first institution in the state system – and perhaps the first public institution in the country – to have an indigenous study requirement as part of general education. A diversity and inclusion requirement will be rolled out this coming fall. The importance of this new requirement cannot be overstated. There are 224 federally recognized tribes and 20 indigenous languages spoken in the state. A majority of Alaska Natives still live on their original homelands, and one in four students coming through the Anchorage School District is Alaska Native. Part of UAA’s mission is to integrate indigenous perspectives into a variety of educational settings, and to provide education and opportunities for Alaska Natives through its Alaska Native Studies Council and through Alaska Native programs and resources.
Daniel T. Kline is a professor of English and director of general education at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he specializes in medieval literature and culture, literary theory, and digital medievalism. His formal research concerns children, violence, and ethics in late-medieval England and neo-medievalism and digital gaming. Recent publications include Digital Gaming Re-Imagines the Middle Ages, (Routledge, 2014), and he is co-editor of the recently launched Open Access Companion to Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (https://opencanterburytales.dsl.lsu.edu/).