How Do Faculty Benefit from Calderwood Seminars

HOW DO FACULTY BENEFIT

FROM CALDERWOOD SEMINARS?

Teaching this course was transformative for me as an educator.
– PAUL FLIKKEMA, PROFESSOR OF ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

In addition to valuing all the benefits students receive from taking a Calderwood Seminar, faculty receive benefits themselves
when they offer one.

Here’s what Calderwood Seminar instructors say about their experiences with the program:

When students enjoy a course, faculty do too.

The mechanics of Calderwood Seminars result in active student participation. Students welcome this opportunity and are eager to contribute. Their excitement is contagious, and the instructor gets caught up in it.

My teaching experience is better because my students seem more engaged in and excited about what they are learning, and they appear to feel more ownership over it. The classroom vibe is more positive, more fun, more lively.

– SARAH ELLENZWEIG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, RICE UNIVERSITY

The seminars demonstrate the relevance of academic fields and the value of ideas.

I came to appreciate that if the study of the humanities is to survive outside of the halls of the elite liberal arts schools, it will depend upon our students not only succeeding, but being able to articulate for others the unique and important value of their education.

– PAUL HURH, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

In Calderwood Seminars, faculty often ask students to translate academic work for a public audience, making academic disciplines feel more relevant to students’ lives. Because faculty are excited by their subject, having students see its value too is incredibly rewarding.

Teaching becomes more spontaneous.

In Calderwood Seminars, students’ research and writing drive the discussion, and students have more agency in the classroom and in their learning. Leading one of these seminars encourages spontaneity; teachers have to think on their feet and are delighted to do so.

I had things to say. That sounds obvious, and a bit silly, but it came as something of a surprise, and it felt new. It reminded me of the excitement of my earliest days as a teacher, when I really was finding out just what I knew.

– BARRY LYDGATE, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF FRENCH, WELLESLEY COLLEGE

The hierarchy of the classroom is deconstructed.

Students taking Calderwood
seminars engage with their peers as colleagues, and they seem consistently, and reflexively, to regard their faculty as something like senior colleagues—people whose knowledge and expertise is certainly respected but not treated with deference or awe.

– SEAN MCCANN, PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

Many Calderwood faculty say they feel like they are participating in the workshop, rather than leading it. As one faculty member put it, “I have the sense that we’re all in this project together, and it allows me to bring my whole self into the classroom, to meet the whole selves of my students.” Faculty enjoy this change, embracing the chance to step back from being the sage on the stage, from controlling the class to supporting it.

Faculty improve their own public writing skills.

A number of faculty have said that Calderwood Seminars made them rethink not only how they teach, but also how they write and edit, and they have started to take a more public-facing approach to their own work because of the experience. Some have pursued public writing and publishing as a complement to their academic scholarship.

My piece “Palmyra’s ruins can rebuild our relationship with history,” in Aeon magazine, was among the winners of the American Philosophical Association’s 2018 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest. … Ideas originally sown in this short piece have subsequently grown into aspects of three different peer-reviewed articles. So there have been benefits to my academic scholarship through this process as well.

– ERICH HATALA MATTHES, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, WELLESLEY COLLEGE

“Several students said, as we wrapped up and I gathered their opinions, that the Calderwood Seminar should become a required course for all graduate students. I agree. Teaching this course was a highlight of my teaching career and I’ll try to teach it every year from now until I stop teaching.”

– Christian Novetzke, professor at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Funding may be available to support a pilot program at your institution.

For more information, contact us at Calderwood@wellesley.edu.