Tag: inclusive pedagogy

President’s annual matriculation convocation opens Lawrence’s five-part 2018-19 series

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein officially opens the university’s 170th academic year, along with its 2018-19 convocation series, Thursday, Sept. 13 with his annual matriculation address.

All convocations begin at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel and are free and open to the public.

President Mark Burstein
President Mark Burstein

Now in his sixth year as Lawrence’s 16th president, Burstein has focused on creating learning communities in which all members can reach their full potential.

Prior to Lawrence, Burstein served nine years as executive vice president at Princeton University and 10 years at Columbia University as a vice president working in human resources, student services and facilities management.

Joining Burstein on this year’s series will be:

Katherine Cramer
Katherine Cramer

Oct. 23 — Katherine Cramer, professor of political science, UW-Madison
Known for her innovative approach to the study of public opinion, Cramer presents “Listening Well in a World that Turns Away.”

Her scholarship focuses on the way Americans make sense of politics and their place in it. She is the author of “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker,” which examines rural resentment toward cities and its implications for contemporary politics. The book earned Cramer the 2017 American Political Science Association’s Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section Giovanni Sartori Award for the best book developing or using qualitative methods.

She also has written the books “Talking about Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference” and “Talking about Politics: Informal Groups and Social Identity in American Life.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science at UW-Madison, she earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan.

Phil Plait
Phil Plait

Jan. 17, 2019 — Phil Plait, astronomer
A popular science writer based in Boulder, Colo., Plait is the mind behind the blog “Bad Astronomy,” on which he tries to debunk scientific myths and misconceptions. In 2009, Time magazine included it on its list of the 25 best science blogs. He will deliver the address “Strange New Worlds: Is Earth Special?”

While he’s never been a NASA employee, he was part of the Hubble Space Telescope team at NASA ‘s Goddard Space Flight Center and has been involved with NASA-sponsored public outreach programs for several satellites that study high-energy forms of light emitted by black holes, exploding stars and super-dense neutrons stars.

Pliat, who earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Virginia, is the author of “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing ‘Hoax’” and “Death from the Skies!,” in which he provides real science behind all the ways astronomical events could wipe out life on Earth.

Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur

April 11, 2019 — Matika Wilbur, director/photographer Project 562
Wilbur, a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington, has been on a five-year mission to change the way we see Native America. As a visual storyteller, she has traveled the country with her camera, creating portrait art of the lives and experiences of people from the nation’s indigenous communities. She will present the address, “Changing the Way We See Native America.”

A one-time fashion photographer who earned a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography, Wilbur launched Project 562 in 2012 with a goal of photographing and collecting stories of Native Americans from each federally-recognized Indian tribe in the United States. To date she has visited more than 300 sovereign nations in 40 states documenting the diversity, vibrancy and realness of Indian country.

She has taught visual arts at Tulalip Heritage High School in Washington state, providing training and inspiration for the indigenous youth of her own community.

Her photography has been exhibited in national and international venues, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and France’s Nantes Museum of Fine Arts.

David Burrows
David Burrows

May 22, 2018David Burrows, professor of psychology and director of inclusive pedagogy
Burrows, whose address is titled, “Education for Effective Action,” is the 10th recipient of Lawrence’s Faculty Convocation Award, which represents the judgment of faculty peers that the person’s professional work is of high quality and deserves the honor of selection.

His career in higher education spans more than four-and-a half decades, including the past 13 years at Lawrence after joining the administration in 2005 as provost and dean of the faculty. In 2017, he returned to the classroom as a full-time member of the psychology department, where he teaches “Principles of Psychology,” “Cognitive Psychology” and Freshman Studies.

Burrows, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, taught and served as psychology department chair at the State University of New York at Brockport and spent 17 years at Skidmore College, where he was department chair and associate dean of the faculty. Immediately prior to Lawrence, Burrows served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Beloit College from 1997-2005.

His current scholarship focuses on how students learn in college settings. He has worked with students to help them develop good self-evaluative skills as an enhancement for learning and is interested in the concept of engagement as a critical factor in learning and cognitive development.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence University receives $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to pursue inclusive excellence in the sciences

Stefan Debbert calls it a “transformational” approach to science education at Lawrence University.

The chemistry professor will direct a new initiative designed to significantly change the way Lawrence teaches many of its introductory natural science courses.

Stefan Debbert
Stefan Debbert

Lawrence was one of 33 schools in the country selected for a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to implement its Inclusive Excellence Initiative. The program’s aim is to catalyze schools’ efforts to engage science students of all backgrounds and identities. Lawrence and the other 32 schools selected for the program this year join 24 schools that were chosen in 2017.

“This initiative is about encouraging colleges and universities to change the way they do business — to become institutions with a significantly greater capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those from nontraditional backgrounds,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea in announcing the grants.

“The commitment to inclusion is a signal feature of a Lawrence education,” said Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty. “Last year, our efforts to more fully incorporate inclusive pedagogies in the humanities received a great boost through funding from the Mellon Foundation. This new grant makes it possible for us to deepen and expand this commitment into our instruction in the sciences, as well. HHMI is one of the nation’s most prestigious science philanthropies. Their support of our program is a tremendous vote of confidence in the skill, dedication, and passion of our faculty.”

As its name implies, the program is targeting “the New Majority” — underrepresented minority, first generation and low-income students. Recent efforts on Lawrence’s part have significantly increased its number of New Majority students, leading to a re-examination of how its policies and resources support those students.

“It’s called the Inclusive Excellence Initiative because data suggest some groups are being excluded,” said Debbert, associate professor of chemistry and Lawrence’s HHMI project director. “We want to make sure students stay in our science ‘pipeline.’ To do that, we’re looking at a fundamental shift in how we teach.

“Our goal is to create a natural science community that unreservedly welcomes, fully embraces, thoughtfully engages and effectively teaches all students of all identities—from their very first class through graduation,” Debbert added. “Lawrence’s natural science division intends to lead the university as we place inclusive excellence at the root of our curricula, our mindsets and our shared mission.”

Lawrence will use the grant, which will be allocated over five years, to “fundamentally change” the way each of its large introductory courses in biology, chemistry and physics are taught.

“We’re going to take them out of the big lecture hall model and go to a more active learning approach where students are working in small groups around a table, talking with each other and working with each other instead of just passively absorbing a long lecture,” said Debbert. “We’re also going to enhance our student’s hands-on learning opportunities by better integrating our labs with our classroom work.”

Lawrence biologist Elizabeth De Stasio, whose own position at Lawrence was created originally in 1992 by a $500,000 grant from HHMI, says that as a result of this work, “Our students are going to be learning in a new way. They are going to carry that to their other classes and, we hope, their social spaces, resulting in a more inclusive culture at Lawrence, not just in the introductory science classes.”

“The commitment to inclusion is a signal feature of a Lawrence education. HHMI is one of the nation’s most prestigious science philanthropies. Their support of our program is a tremendous vote of confidence in the skill, dedication, and passion of our faculty.”
— Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty

Lawrence’s first step in the initiative will be transforming a large, tiered lecture hall in Youngchild Hall into a “science commons” with small group tables and built-in technology so students can share work with each other more easily.

“Our hope is to make our introductory science courses a more welcoming and engaging place, so students won’t feel left out or excluded because of where they’re coming from, what they look like or how they identify,” said Debbert. “We’ll be able to say to all students, ‘We can help you succeed.’”

Over the next five years, Lawrence will add visiting faculty members who specialize in modern science pedagogy for two-year appointments. These positions will be created in the biology, chemistry and physics departments.

“These ‘STEM Pedagogy Fellows,’ as we plan to call them, won’t just be scientists, they will have extensive experience in modern pedagogy and classroom revision,” said Debbert. “They will be people whose Ph.D.s essentially are in science teaching, so they will help us in many ways.”

Biology professor Beth De Stasio in classroom with students
Professor of Biology Beth De Stasio (right) has tested some of the inclusive education practices in her genetics class that Lawrence will incorporate more broadly through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant.

To further support students in these introductory science courses, Lawrence will build on a successful program in their introductory biology curriculum by developing and implementing peer-led learning groups for introductory courses in chemistry and physics. These groups will help students develop skills and strategies for success in coursework, and will lead to more connections and cohort-building among students and a more inclusive learning environment for all students, particular those from underrepresented groups.

“Diverse groups are shown by research to make better decisions; there is less group-think if you are in a group with diversity on any level,” said De Stasio, the Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science and professor of biology. “We’re trying to have students realize working in diverse groups of any kind is a huge plus.”

In addition to these programs, Lawrence will bring outside speakers to campus to conduct seminars for the faculty and staff with a focus on how to teach more inclusively. Additional personnel will be added to the office of research administration to gather more data to assess project progress during the grant period.

During the two rounds of selection in 2017 and 2018, HHMI received applications from 594 schools of which 140 were invited to submit proposals for plans to develop more inclusive environments for their students.

“For years, the higher education system has focused on treating symptoms instead of addressing root causes,” said HHMI Program Officer Susan Musante. “With the Inclusive Excellence initiative, HHMI is asking institutions to identify how they are standing in the way of success for certain groups of students and then find ways to change.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Choral director Stephen Sieck addresses inclusive instruction in new book

Some challenging, and eye-opening, conversations with students two years ago led Lawrence University choral director Stephen Sieck to some more introspection regarding his approach to teaching and concert program selections.

That self-reflection resulted in a recently released book, “Teaching with Respect: Inclusive Pedagogy for Choral Directors” (Hal Leonard, 2017), which examines deep questions about the language we use, systems of power and our heritage and inheritance.

Stephen Sieck
Stephen Sieck

“This book comes out of a lifetime of well-intentioned but harmful experiences that singers have had in my and other peoples’ choirs,” said Sieck, who joined the Lawrence conservatory of music faculty in 2010. “The specific spark for my personal change in pedagogical approach was a series of difficult conversations in the fall of 2015. Students raised concerns we had not previously thought much about, such as the role of the African-American slave spiritual as a form of concert entertainment. Once I began looking at the kinds of repertoire and pedagogical techniques I had learned and lived as a choral director from my students’ eyes, I saw the need for a conversation to start in our field.”

In “Teaching with Respect,” Sieck looks closely at teaching strategies and how everything from instruction to repertoire choices intersect with singers’ identities, their learning abilities, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity and race. He advocates an ethical approach to teaching choral music that is centered on respecting the singers each singer as a human with a distinct set of experiences.

With some form found in every culture in the world, Sieck calls choral singing “the most natural way to build community and share an artistic or spiritual experience in any culture around the world,” which underscores the importance of how it is taught.

“When students find a negative or harmful experience in choir, we have to see that we have strayed very far from such communal power,” said Sieck. “This book asks us to consider the ways in which our teaching either builds that community or fractures it.”

Book cover Teaching with RespectDespite its subtitle, Sieck says the book’s lessons apply broadly to all educators.

“Choral music provides a very specific set of challenges, especially around texts and religions, but the principles discussed in the book are universal,” said Sieck, who was honored with Lawrence’s Young Teacher Award in 2014. “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Learn to acknowledge the tilt of the playing field and work to make it level. Don’t treat someone who is not part of the ‘majority’ identity as a marked ‘other’ category. These principles would be just as appropriate in a calculus class. It’s just that in choir we have so many of these challenges woven into long-held traditions like programming a Christmas concert in a public school.”

Sieck is co-director of Lawrence’s Concert Choir and Cantala women’s choir, both of which performed at the 2014 American Choral Director’s Association North Central convention. He also directs the Viking Chorale, which performed at the 2015 Wisconsin Choral Director’s Association convention.

A former professional singer in Los Angeles, Sieck earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Chicago. He also holds a master’s degree and doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of Illinois.

He recently finished a second, yet-unpublished, book that profiles eight of the best university choral programs in America. Through case studies, he examines what makes them so consistently successful and offers applications for teachers everywhere.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.