Fourteen Whitman faculty members and two staff members recently returned from the second annual conference for the NW5C, a consortium of five liberal arts colleges in the Pacific Northwest. Along with Whitman College, the NW5C includes Willamette University, University of Puget Sound, Reed College and Lewis & Clark College.

Attendees gathered at the Skamania Lodge on the Columbia River, where they discussed the challenge of teaching students about culturally diverse regions. The title for the conference was The Global Campus.

Associate Professor of Sociology Helen Kim said that in 2012 she had become interested in the NW5C conference mostly out of curiosity. This year, however, she was more interested in the cooperation between colleges. “The second time around, the primary value for me was the real possibility of collaborating with faculty from the five colleges. I am especially interested in establishing a mentoring network for post-tenure faculty from the NW5C schools.”  

The NW5C was created last year with the assistance of a Mellon Foundation grant. The consortium has been set up to support the academic and professional advancement of faculty and students, to build a community across the campuses and to raise the profile of the five institutions.

Tim Kaufman-Osborn, provost and dean of faculty at Whitman, said, “I have been delighted to see so many faculty members committed to cultivating collaborative partnerships with the NW5C. This year’s meeting generated a host of interesting proposals that have the potential to contribute considerably to Whitman’s Global Studies Initiative and to enhance our ongoing efforts to suffuse global perspectives throughout our curriculum.”

Some specific ideas for future collaboration included faculty exchanges between campuses, shared study abroad sites and region-specific networks that would pool resources. Faculty members also talked about the power of digital media and technology to enhance these collaborations.

On Oct. 22, the Center for Teaching and Learning is hosting a conversation titled Teaching the Global, which will serve as an opportunity for further discussion of the ideas broached during the conference.