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Transformative Signature Courses: Young People & Drugs

Lori Holleran Setiker in class This is part one of a series on transformative Signature Courses.

Addiction can be a taboo-filled subject, especially on a college campus. The Signature Course “Young People & Drugs” attempts to remove stigma and provide insight on the complexities of addiction. This challenge led the instructor to develop a unique model, one that seeks to engage a large swath of campus in tackling a tough problem.

Part of the core curriculum required for all degrees, Signature Courses like “Young People & Drugs” connect first-year students with top faculty in challenging, interdisciplinary courses. Course instructor Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker began teaching at UT in 2000 and has taught “Young People & Drugs” as a Signature Course every year since the program began.

“Ideas come from diversity,” Dr. Holleran Steiker said. “Even in talking with students participating in the Freshman Research Initiative, for example, they say that courses in art have helped them approach their hypotheses when designing a lab experiment.”

Bringing Real-world Experience to the Classroom

Dr. Holleran Steiker served as an addictions therapist for about 12 years before becoming a scholar-researcher, and she brings that experience to the course material. She invites peers and colleagues into the class to discuss their work, brings students in recovery from addiction to her class to share their personal stories, and backs it all up with current literature on youth and addiction.

“What I tend to do is braid together personal, professional, and res