Cross-Disciplinary Learning and Teaching Initiative
Cross-Disciplinary Learning and Teaching Initiative (CDLTI)
Purpose of Initiative
Funded by the Advancing Excellence in Teaching Endowment, the purpose of this initiative is to enable faculty members to develop and participate in cross-disciplinary workshops that enhance the quality of the academic program of Whitman College.
Over the course of the 2009-10 academic year, the Committee of Division Chairs prepared Building on Excellence, 2010. As its preface indicated, a central purpose of that document is to identify the principles that “should inform comprehensive planning of the academic program over the course of the next five to ten years, and to offer recommendations about how these principles might be translated into practices that will contribute to the vitality of a liberal arts education at Whitman.”
Building on Excellence, 2010 stated that “the capacity to draw connections between apparently discrete domains of knowledge and experience” is one of the distinguishing features of a liberal arts education. Consistent with this commitment, a key principle of that document encouraged the cultivation of “webs of connections among established departments and other key elements of the academic program.”
In accordance with this principle, Building on Excellence, 2010 offered the following recommendation: “In order to encourage forms of inquiry that take their starting point from substantive issues, questions, and problems that cross established disciplinary lines, the College should invite faculty members to develop new ways to draw connections between established departmental majors as well as between these major programs and other key elements of the academic program.”
The initiative presented here is intended to facilitate realization of this principle as well as the recommendations that accompanied it.
Proposals for workshops to be conducted in accordance with the Cross-Disciplinary Learning and Teaching Initiative should be submitted by the faculty member who has agreed to coordinate it, but on behalf of all who have agreed to participate in it.
Proposals for workshops to be conducted during the fall semester of the 2013-14 academic year are due no later than August 30, 2013; for workshops to be conducted during the spring semester of the 2013-14 no later than November 29, 2013. (So that I can apportion available funding over the course of the 2013-14 academic year, if you do not intend to propose a workshop for the fall but do intend to propose one for next spring, it would be helpful if you would send me a quick email indicating your tentative intent.)
All proposals must include the following items (several of which are elaborated in greater detail in the following section):
1. The name of the workshop coordinator
2. A title for the workshop
3. A brief statement of the theme or topic that will form the subject-matter of the workshop as well as an indication of why or how this theme or topic lends itself to cross-disciplinary treatment
4. A list of the faculty members who will participate in any given workshop as well as a current curriculum vitae for each participant
5. A preliminary syllabus for the workshop, indicating the major topics to be covered as well as the principal readings to be assigned
6. A schedule indicating when any given workshop will be conducted
7. A budget indicating any expenses that the conduct of a workshop will require over and above those required for stipends (see below for more information about stipends)
Using the template provided at the end of this document, all proposals should be submitted in electronic form to Susan Bennett (email@example.com) in the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty.
Requirements and Expectations
1. Workshops should consist of approximately five members (but not less than three and never more than ten), including their coordinators, and must include representation from at least two, but preferably, a larger number of academic departments. Although not required, preference will be given to proposals that involve faculty from two or more academic divisions. (While any theme or topic that lends itself to cross-disciplinary treatment will be considered, authors of proposals are encouraged to recall the recommendation, included in Building on Excellence, 2010, to build on “current efforts to introduce global perspectives into the curriculum.”)
2. Regardless of whether scheduled to take place during the fall or spring semester of the 2011-12 academic year, workshops must meet at least five times over the course of the semester for a total of not less than 15 hours. If workshops are scheduled to meet during the summer of 2012, they must also meet at least five times for a total of not less than 15 hours.
3. Each workshop is expected to devote time not merely to the question of how any given theme or topic might be approached from several disciplinary perspectives, but also how one might learn and teach about this theme from a cross-disciplinary perspective. When possible, readings that expressly address this question should be included among the workshop assignments. Where appropriate, participants are encouraged to include elements (e.g., lab sessions, field trips, local speakers) that assist in exploring ways of accomplishing this purpose. Finally, in addition to supporting workshops that explore specific themes or topics from cross-disciplinary perspectives, proposals for workshops that explore how cross-disciplinary inquiry is itself conducted, as well as the difficulties of doing so well, are also welcome.
4. While each coordinator will assume principal responsibility for the logistical details of any given workshop, every participant is expected to be a fully engaged member (e.g., by suggesting readings, by organizing activities aimed to supplement readings, by active involvement in each session, etc.).
5. Within a month following completion of any given workshop, each coordinator must secure from every participant a brief statement indicating:
a) the workshop’s success (or lack thereof) in meeting the goal of encouraging creative inquiry into the possibilities of cross-disciplinary teaching and learning;
b) how each member anticipates incorporating the results of the workshop into his or her instruction—e.g., by altering the content or pedagogical framework of currently-offered courses or by developing new courses. (In doing so, participants should keep in mind the following recommendation from Building on Excellence, 2010: “Possible ways to do so [i.e., to draw connections between established departmental majors as well as between these major programs and other key elements of the academic program] include the development of courses taught by faculty members in different disciplines and across academic divisions; the promotion of cross-listed courses as well as the creation and/or addition of courses that can count toward more than one set of major requirements; and the grouping of courses from different disciplines into thematic constellations”); and
c) any concerns each member has about how this workshop was designed, organized, and led as well as suggestions about how these concerns might be addressed in future workshops.
The responses to a) and b) will be posted on the PDF website, along with the coordinator’s synopsis (see below). The responses to c) will only be shared with the workshop coordinator as well as the Provost and Dean of the Faculty. These comments will be used in order to improve the conduct of subsequent workshops.
6. Within a month of receipt of the workshop assessments submitted by each participant, each coordinator must prepare a written synopsis indicating the topic or theme that was explored; how the workshop was conducted; what its participants learned about cross-disciplinary teaching and learning; and how future iterations of such workshops might better accomplish their purposes. These synopses should be submitted to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty; and they, along with the responses to a) and b) above, will then be posted on the website of the Center for Teaching and Learning so that all faculty members can secure access to and learn from them.
The funding made available in conjunction with this initiative will be employed: 1) to defray the costs of the materials required for the conduct of these workshops; and 2) to provide remuneration to faculty members who participate in cross-disciplinary workshops.
With respect to remuneration, each participant in a faculty workshop may choose either to receive:
a) Up to $1500 toward reimbursement of expenses (not subject to taxation) associated with professional activity (in addition to but separate from her or his Professional Development Account) in the academic year following that during which a faculty workshop is conducted; or
b) A stipend of $1,000 (taxable revenue)
c) The coordinator of any given faculty workshop will receive an additional $500, which can be provided in either of the forms indicated in a) or b).
Remuneration received in the form of additional funding for the reimbursement of expenses related to professional activity will not be taken into account by the ASID Committee when it considers requests for funding over and above that made available through Professional Development Accounts.
The budget submitted in conjunction with each workshop proposal must specify those who have elected to receive their remuneration in the form of a one-time stipend as well as those who have elected to receive their remuneration in the form of an increment in funding available for the reimbursement of expenses incurred in conjunction with professional activity.
Remuneration will be made available following completion of any given workshop as well as completion of the post-workshop requirements indicated above.
Proposals will be reviewed by the Steering Committee of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and that Committee will advance recommendations to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty.
Preference in selection will be given to workshops whose members are tenured and tenure-track faculty, Forensics-track faculty, and Senior Lecturers. Preference will also be given to workshops whose members have not previously participated in a CDLTI workshop (but persons who have done so are encouraged to apply). Participation by other members of the instructional staff is not precluded, but does require special justification by the coordinator in order to demonstrate how such participation will enhance the ongoing academic program of the College.