Learning Communtities

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Learning Communities

Learning Communities (LCs) are small groups of faculty and staff colleagues (usually 6–7 individuals) who meet regularly for a sustained amount of time to explore a particular topic of interest. LCs serve to (re)build community,  enhance collaboration among faculty within and across disciplines and with staff, to encourage reflection about educational development, teaching and learning, and/or support the creation and application of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).  

Each LC receives $400 for necessary supplies (e.g., books) and has at least one facilitator. The facilitator receives an additional $200 stipend (co-facilitators split the stipend) and is responsible for the use of funds, managing the group’s time, and submitting an outcome report. The outcome report may be delivered in various ways and include a presentation at a conference or an event at Centre College, a workshop for Centre colleagues, a journal article, or some other scholarly report. Facilitators can discuss mode of reporting with CTL staff.

If you are interested in proposing a topic for a LC, please fill out the proposed topic survey. Our preferred proposed topic deadline for Fall Term (or AY 23/24) LC’s is Monday, September 18th. Spring Term options, please contact the CTL with your ideas. The CTL will reach out to you via email to discuss and coordinate.

Book Groups

Book Groups are smaller and less demanding learning groups, similar to a book club. Form a book group with at least 4 people and the CTL will provide funds to purchase the book.  Email Nisha Gupta with interest.  

2023–2024 Learning Communities

We are pleased to announce confirmed Learning Communities (LC) topics for 2023–24.  If you are interested in joining one or more of these Learning Communities, please contact Nisha Gupta or Matt Downen.

Genterative A.I./Chatgpt: Prickly Parrots

ChatGPT and other AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications are revolutionizing the world, raising prickly issues in academia. Is it plagiarism if a student uses ChatGPT to rewrite their draft? Or for academics to compose assignments or grant proposals with similar tools? To explore this polarizing topic, we propose a learning community to read, discuss articles, and personally experience the possibilities and limitations of these tools—sometimes called Stochastic Parrots for their ability to generate language without understanding. Proposed discussion topics include copyright, plagiarism, and innovation strategies in pedagogy, with more emerging through our dialogue. 

Gen z Students: Does a New Generation Need a New Approach

A new generation of students, Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is entering higher education with different experiences, perspectives, and in a different climate than previous generations. This is the first generation to never know the world without internet, value diversity, and finding their own unique identities. This learning community will review recent literature on understanding and teaching Gen Z students. One possible book to read is Gen Z, Explained or other resources determined by the group. 

Inclusive Teaching

Inclusivity, diversity, equity, anti-racism. These are all terms used in relation to pedagogies. This learning community will focus on topics related to inclusive teaching. Possible topics include teaching in today’s culture wars, equity-minded teaching, inclusive pedagogies, and inclusive practices centered around different identities. Feel free to indicate topics you prefer from this list or others in your response. 

If you wish to propose your own please fill out this survey to indicate your interest. We are also looking for facilitators/co-facilitators. Preferred proposals deadline is September 18, 2023. Learning Community Interest Survey 

Previous Learning Communities

Practicing Self-Care

Title:  Practicing Self-care   

Fall Facilitators:  Eva Cadavid and Kristi Jenkins 

Contact: eva.cadavid@centre.edu 

Spring Facilitators: Philip Limerick and Kristi Jenkins

Planned readings:  The Age of Overwhelm, “Unraveling Faculty Burnout“, articles from Inside HigherEd and Chronicle of Higher Education, authors: Kerry Ann Roquemore, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, Rebecca Pope-Ruark 

Description:  The nature of our work leads us to focus on meeting the needs of other and often leaves us in a reactionary mode rather than a proactive one. This learning community will focus on finding and discussing resources that can help us understand how to care for ourselves such that we can better respond to students’ need. It is inspired by the LC we had in the Spring, Caring for the Self in Order to Care for Others. We will serve as a community of support as each of us identifies our individual needs and finds the space to meet those.

Possible topics: strategies for avoiding burnout, creating and enforcing healthy boundaries, why do we need to take time for ourselves, wellness and self-care in academia  

Belonging and Bandwidth

Title:  Belonging and Bandwidth   

Facilitator:  Andrea Abrams 

Contact: andrea.abrams@centre.edu 

Reading: Bandwidth Recovery:  Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism and Social Marginalization by Cia Verschelden and excerpts from the book, The Impact of a Sense of Belonging in College by Bentrim and Henning.   

This learning community would focus on the topics of cognitive bandwidth and belonging.  Cognitive bandwidth allows people to reason, focus and resist impulses.  It is depleted by stressors such as social marginalization and unsustainable workloads. When members of a college community contend with chronically depleted bandwidth and are not provided adequate resources for recovery, this can result in feeling disconnected from the place and feeling as if they do not matter. Belonging is the feeling of connectedness and the experience of mattering to the community.  In order to nurture belonging, the college must provide the resources for bandwidth recovery and resilience. 

While this learning community will of course consider ways to increase bandwidth recovery and belonging for students, an important focus of the learning community will be to consider and recommend programming and policies to support bandwidth recovery and belonging for staff and faculty.   A cognitively depleted and disconnected staff and faculty will struggle to foster belonging and resilience in students. 

Equity in World Languages Instruction

Title:  Equity in World Languages Instruction

Facilitators: Chantell Limerick and Laura Chinchilla 

Contact: chantell.limerick@centre.edu or laura.chinchilla@centre.edu 

Readings:  Racialized Identities in Second Language Learning by Uju Anya 

The focus of this learning community is equity in world languages instruction. Uju Anya, a scholar of applied linguistics, has noted how the multicultural dimension of language instruction in the United States means that issues of equity and race are often unexamined and are evaded in favor of a cosmopolitan color-blindness.  In her scholarship Anya explains how textbooks, class materials, and instructor biases contribute to the disempowerment of African-American students. Following Anya’s work and the work of other scholars working at the intersection of gender studies, critical race theory, and language acquisition and pedagogy, we envision this learning community as a space for inquiry and exploration of equity practices in language pedagogy for our on-campus courses and experiences abroad with students. We welcome everyone who teaches languages and those who work with international and multilingual students.  

Builders or Critics: Imagining Better Ways for a Just and Inclusive Social Order 

Title: Builders or Critics:  Imagining better ways for a just and inclusive social order

Facilitators: Nisha Gupta and Milton Moreland 

Contact: nisha.gupta@centre.edu 

Reading: Eboo Patel, (2022) We Need To Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy, plus additional readings and TED talks, etc. based on group interests 

As college educators, there might have been a time in our lives when we were more invested in ‘criticism’ than ‘building.’ Eboo Patel’s recent work, We Need to Build, encourages educators to inspire students to BUILD.  Social changes and forces are widespread and the higher education landscape is one place these formulations are playing out.  We want to argue for social change towards a just and inclusive democracy.  This form of social change is more attractive as we enter this new age of higher education at Centre.  Quoting Patel: “ The goal of social change work is not a more ferocious revolution; it is a more beautiful social order. It is harder to organize a fair trial than it is to fire up a crowd, more challenging to build a good school than it is to tell others they are doing education all wrong.”   In this Learning Community we propose to read Patel’s book and use its messages to launch discussion and exploration of other resources and ideas related to ‘critics’ and ‘builders.’ It takes both to make change.