What is a Discovery Plan?
Each Eastman Leader is awarded $7,500 to support completion of a discovery plan, which must include participation in at least one study-abroad experience, an internship, a service-learning project, appropriate coursework in their major(s)/minors, and additional activities that correspond with the student’s discovery plan. In addition, Eastman Leaders’ discovery plans should address how they intend to “pay forward” Eckerd College’s investment by giving back to the program over time to help support future generations of Eckerd Leaders and the Eckerd community more broadly.
The discovery plan is really what it says it is. The emphasis is on discovery, not specific outcomes. Within the philosophy of the program, the most important outcome of the discovery plan is not any particular product or achievement, but student learning and growth. Students are expected to take risks and make mistakes. They are asked to reflect on their successes and their missteps and what they learned from them. How have they grown as a leader? What do they understand about citizenship they didn’t know before? The Eastman program is designed to provide a spacious and supportive environment in which students can “discover” themselves as leaders.
Eastman Leaders begin to conceptualize their discovery plan during the application process for the program. Once accepted into the program, they then develop the elements of their plan over the fall semester in the Eastman Seminar. The written plan takes the form of a mock grant application. It includes a project narrative, a short resource list, a C.V., and a budget. At the end of the fall term, junior Eastman Leaders must discuss their plan with a committee of faculty and staff advisors, who point out possible difficulties and support the students with further resources and ideas. Junior Eastman Leaders then submit the final versions of their plans during the first few weeks of the spring term. Over the remainder of the program, students work on the various elements of their plan, participating in internships and service projects, doing related coursework, traveling, and more. They reflect on their progress at points along the way, and present their experiences to a broader audience at the end of spring term in their senior year.