In Brief: BTtoP News and Notes

News

BTtoP Sponsored Retreats: Preparing Professors for New-Majority Students in Higher Education
Led by BTtoP consultant Barry Checkoway and our colleague Chad Berry, academic vice president and dean of the faculty at Berea College, BTtoP is pleased to highlight a series of scholar retreats, “Preparing Professors for New-Majority Students in Higher Education.” With the support of a BTtoP grant and matched by funding from Berea College and the University of Michigan, twenty participants including faculty, independent scholars, and administrators joined students at an initial gathering at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, from November 10 to 12, 2017. At this gathering, participants reimagined a higher education wherein immersive programs, pedagogies, and inclusive campus cultures would support the flourishing of all students. A second gathering was held at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor from April 13 to 15 with a goal of building materials, suxh as a collection of narratives, that could be shared with administrators and faculty nationwide in order to deepen and broaden knowledge about and commitment to new majority student well-being. These materials include creating a new-majority student clearinghouse of information for having conversations and fostering positive change in higher education settings.

BTtoP Well-Being Grantee Research Collaborative
On June 1, Ashley Finley, BTtoP national evaluator, and L. Lee Knefelkamp, BTtoP senior scholar, led a day-long “Well-Being Research Collaborative” seminar convening researchers and project leaders from BTtoP’s 2015–17 Well-Being Research Grantees. With representatives from over fifteen diverse campuses across the country, attendees discussed the connection between interventional educational practices that facilitate social and emotional learning and the related effects on assessable well-being and success outcomes, particularly for students who have been traditionally underserved within higher education. The goal of the collaborative is to examine effective campus-based models in relationship to empirical findings to identify the most transferable and scalable models for linking well-being with underserved student success and campus commitments to equity.

Travels

BTtoP Director and Project Manager Attend Retreat on Promoting Thriving in Colleges and Universities
From March 18 to 19, Don Harward, BTtoP director, and Caitlin Salins, BTtoP project manager, attended a retreat in New York City organized by the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy and funded by the Citrone Family 33 Foundation. Titled “Promoting Thriving in Colleges and Universities,” the all-day seminar examined philanthropy’s role in promoting aspects of well-being, with particular focus on thriving in US higher education, and it included perspectives and presentations from researchers, academic leadership, philanthropists, practitioners, business leaders, and designers. Harward presented on the differences between eudaimonic and hedonic well-being and the importance of understanding these contrasts in relation to student thriving.

BTtoP Director Don Harward Represents Bates College at Maine Campus Compact Awards
As president emeritus of Bates College, BTtoP director Don Harward traveled to Bates’s campus on April 25 to represent the institution at the annual Maine Campus Compact Awards ceremony. The ceremony recognizes exceptional work in public service and civic engagement by Maine faculty members, campus organizations, students, and local community and corporate partners.

BTtoP Project Associate Represents BTtoP at AAC&U’s General Education and Assessment Conference
From February 15 to 17, 2018, Mercedes Yanora, BTtoP project associate, attended the Association of American Colleges and Universities Network for Academic Renewal Conference, “General Education and Assessment: Foundations for Democracy” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Held in the birthplace of American democracy, the conference addressed engaged learning, authentic assessment, issues of citizenship, and economic and social well-being. Yanora moderated the session “Project-Based Designs for Civic Engagement and Learning,” which showcased presentations from SUNY Plattsburgh and Hendrix College.

Ashley Finley, BTtoP’s National Evaluator, Leads Workshop on Student Well-Being
As part of a series of inclusive pedagogy workshops organized by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, Ashley Finley, BTtoP’s national evaluator, offered three presentations asserting student well-being as an essential part of high-impact practices and inclusive excellence. The workshop included linking aspects of the Ryff Model of Well-Being—including self-acceptance, personal growth, positive relationships, autonomy, purpose in life, and environmental mastery—to essential learning outcomes such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and intercultural competence. To learn more and view the PowerPoint slides from Finley’s presentation, visit: https://www.bttop.org/resources/research-and-presentations

What We're Reading

Transforming the Academy: Faculty Perspectives on Diversity and Pedagogy
Edited by Sarah Willie-LeBreton
“In recent decades, American universities have begun to tout the ‘diversity’ of their faculty and student bodies. But what kinds of diversity are being championed in their admissions and hiring practices, and what kinds are being neglected? Is diversity enough to solve the structural inequalities that plague our universities? And how might we articulate the value of diversity in the first place? Transforming the Academy begins to answer these questions by bringing together a mix of faculty—male and female, cisgender and queer, immigrant and native-born, tenured and contingent, white, black, multiracial, and other—from public and private universities across the United States. Whether describing contentious power dynamics within their classrooms or recounting protests that occurred on their campuses, the book’s contributors offer bracingly honest inside accounts of both the conflicts and the learning experiences that can emerge from being a representative of diversity.” 

What Would Socrates Do? Self-Examination, Civic Engagement, and the Politics of Philosophy
By Joel Alden Schlosser
“Socrates continues to be an extremely influential force to this day; his work is featured prominently in the work of contemporary thinkers ranging from Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss, to Michel Foucault and Jacques Rancière. Intervening in this discussion, What Would Socrates Do? reconstructs Socrates’ philosophy in ancient Athens to show its promise of empowering citizens and non-citizens alike. By drawing them into collective practices of dialogue and reflection, philosophy can help people to become thinking, acting beings more capable of fully realizing the promises of political life.” 

Transformative Civic Engagement through Community Organizing
By Maria Avila
“Maria Avila presents a personal account of how, from her experience as a teenager working in a factory in Ciudad Juarez, she got involved in community organizing and how she has since applied its distinctive practices to civic engagement in higher education. Her premise is that community organizing can help create a culture that values and rewards civically engaged scholarship and thus advance higher education’s public, democratic mission. Adapting what she learned during her years as an organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, she describes a practice that aims for full reciprocity between partners and is achieved through the careful nurturing of relationships, a mutual understanding of personal narratives, leadership building, power analysis, and critical reflection.” 

The Evil of Banality: On the Life and Death Importance of Thinking
By Elizabeth Minnich
“How is it possible to murder a million people one by one? Hatred, fear, madness of one or many people cannot explain it. . . . In The Evil of Banality, Elizabeth Minnich argues for a tragic yet hopeful explanation. ‘Extensive evil,’ her term for systematic horrific harm-doing, is actually carried out, not by psychopaths, but by people like your quiet next door neighbor, your ambitious colleagues. . . . In periods of extensive evil, people little different from you and me do its work for no more than a better job, a raise, the house of the family ‘disappeared’ last week. So how can there be hope? The seeds of such evils are right there in our ordinary lives. They are neither mysterious nor demonic. If we avoid romanticizing and so protecting ourselves from responsibility for the worst and the best of which humans are capable, we can prepare to say no to extensive evil—to act accurately, together, and above all in time, before great harm-doing has become the daily work of ‘normal’ people.” 

Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education
Edited by Alison Cook-Sather
Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education (TLTHE) serves as a forum for the reflective work of college faculty and students working together to explore and enact effective classroom practice. Published three times per year, the journal is premised on the centrality to successful pedagogy of dialogue and collaboration among faculty and students in explorations and revisions of approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. The journal has several aims:

• To include student perspectives and voices in analyses, affirmations, and revisions of educational practice at the post-secondary level

• To offer windows onto the development of pedagogical insights that faculty and students gain when they collaborate on explorations of classroom practice and systematically reflect on that collaboration

• To create forums for dialogue between faculty and students whose work is featured in this journal and others engaged in similar work

    • To explore in particular the challenges and possibilities of such collaborations”