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Social Sciences Faculty

Notes from Meeting with Social Sciences Division

19 September 2012

Attendees: Mark Smith, Kathy Giuffre, Sandi Wong, Wade Roberts, Peter Blasenheim, Dan Johnson, Randy Stiles, Corina McKendry, Pedro de Araujo, Esther Redmount, Eric Perramond, Peter Wright, Charlotte Mendoza, Vibha Kapuria-Foreman, Anne Hyde, John Gould, Lyrae Williams, Tip Ragan, Phoebe Lohstroh, Kristina Lybecker, Jane Murphy, Aju Fenn, Eric Popkin.

Extending Our Reach: What do we do better than anyone else and what do we want to be known for doing better?

  • FACULTY-STUDENT collaboration!  Students produce “wow” output; block plan enables student-faculty collaboration and research like no other school can.  There’s hypocrisy in owning the students because the block plan should allow professors and students to collaborate fully; but neither has enough time.
  • Our academic structure promotes an intensive, immersion experience for both the student and the faculty.  Personal, one-on-one experience should resist the technological experience.  Our brand and strength is face-to-face engagement.
  • We know it when we see it, but we don’t know how to articulate it beyond our campus.  We should be known not for the “weird” curriculum but for what it really is.  We do an intensive academic experience like no one else.  The outcomes cannot be replicated anywhere else.
  • Create a program in Chicago, perhaps next to and/or near the Newberry.  Chicago is a great social sciences lab for our faculty and students.

Engaged Teaching and Learning:

  • Addressing the debilitating student culture of misogynistic partying and throwing derogatory insults at sporting events. We can bring in diverse students but they may encounter a hostile environment. White students feel like students of color are receiving preferential treatment. Questions: 1) what do we want our students to look like when they come to campus, assuming they will be transformed through the Colorado College experience, and 2) what do we want the students to look like once they graduate, 3) how do we eliminate the spaces on campus where students are able to preserve their prejudices?  Students should be able to rationally choose appropriate discourse for venue; goal can be how to have those conversations and how to professors lead community to a higher level. Unsure whether professors deliberately convey skillsets of effective communication and leadership. We want a stronger communication between what goes on in the classroom and what goes on in student life. The block plan was in tandem with student-centered learning upon its inception; what is our philosophical basis of education and how do we parlay block into making it as effective as possible.
  • A student needs to take authorship of his/her own education and he/she needs to be supported and not only able to escape to silos but to challenge them in all aspects of their education. Creating better meta-cognition by connecting blocks instead of binge-and-purge learning. Students need to take the knowledge and apply it from classroom to life. Faculty may be sending mixed messages institutionally about “checking things off” rather than interconnectedness. We want students to be drawing connections across classes and collaborating with student life. How do we get students to be self-aware and then turn this self-awareness into agency?  Students are sensitive to hypocrisy so how do professors balance responsibility with teaching the things we talk about versus demonstrating them. Studies show that parents expect their children to be transformed.
  • Professors have pressures to disassociate with community; are there things that the college itself could do to promote the kinds of conversations that span across disciplines and arenas? The block plan has evolved into something rigid that has disallowed conversations. Professors might enjoy visiting other classrooms. Our students should have awareness and empathy but also a positive direction. In thinking strategically, maybe incentive should be given to those who help students most.


  • Perhaps having a campus elsewhere so that we may export and import students. Very little identity from Colorado to North Mexico; we should start taking pride in making mutual resources and connections to make a corridor of top learning in the Southwest (and country). Spaces for learning in and out of the classroom to be facilitated; maybe there could be an ID building in which people talk about common interests or themes. We should perhaps pay attention to achieve better learning environments. Other campuses have enriched the energy of their spaces by having china cups so that people cannot leave. Why does the campus seem so large? Because we don’t have time or reason? Perhaps professors and students are inefficient because they are so busy.
    • Broadly, how do we rethink the use of space on campus to promote communication, learning, and community?
    • An unintended consequence of the block plan has become isolating programs and people. The philosophy of “my” has become a consequence – how do we take advantage of that or break beyond that? Collaboration is something I can add but it’s something I can’t replace, so time becomes an issue. Perhaps doing an experiment in which everyone has to at one point teach along with another professor.
    • Should we question how the curriculum is set up? Do we want interdisciplinary versus departmental and how do we reward it? What outcomes do we associate with study abroad experiences and what resources are available for professors? We want our teaching lives to feed us in the same way that our scholarly lives do. There is a strong strain of hypocrisy among faculty because CC offers courses that can require large fees that not all students have access to. How do we promote students being global citizens and increase their desire to want to travel to a broad range of courses, going outside their comfort zone? Could we partner with tribal colleges?