Teaching and Learning in the Humanities Now


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About the Cluster

Over the past quarter century, a transformation has been occurring in higher education pedagogy. Until recently, preparation for teaching at the postsecondary level worked almost exclusively through a replication model, in which having been a student in a college or university classroom ostensibly prepared one for how to teach college students, while one’s research and disciplinary training determined what one would teach. Now, professional development centers grounded in research and scholarship on teaching and learning—such as UCSC’s Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning—have opened at a majority of colleges and universities around the country, with the aim of studying and also of changing the culture of teaching and preparation-for-teaching at the postsecondary level. Active learning, backward design, learning technologies, collaborative learning, learning outcomes, rubrics, metrics, and evidence-based teaching practices have emerged as movements or practices that form part of this New Pedagogy. At the same time, concepts like cultural competence, universal design, and inclusive classrooms have refocused diversity and equity concerns from the subject-matter of our courses to our teaching practices themselves.

With co-sponsorship from the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), this research cluster seeks to initiate a collective conversation about the following questions:

• What is the current rationale for studying the Humanities?
• What “skills” do students learn in Humanities classes, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of thinking about a university education in terms of skills?
• What exactly is meant by phrases like “learning-centered teaching” or “active learning” in Humanities disciplines?
• How do we identify and then structure what we want our students to be learning, and how do we figure out whether they have learned it?
• What kinds of assignments do we give our students, both in and out of class? How do we assess the results of those assignments?
• What is the place of collaborative learning in a Humanities classroom?
• How can we help our students become skillful producers as well as critical consumers of digital content?
• How can we better prepare our graduate students—including our TAs—to teach in 21st-century classrooms, when many of us teach using tools and methodologies that have changed little for the past century (or more)? What would a Professor-TA relationship look like under the New Pedagogy?
• What are the workload implications of expecting faculty and graduate students to engage in professional development and “retraining,” and how will we recognize and reward that additional workload?

The aims of this research cluster are twofold: to define the purpose and process of an education in a Humanities field, and to consider how to better use the tools available to us—including both scholarship and technology—in order to teach the students we have now, almost half of whom are first-generation college students. Rather than questioning the value of the Humanities, this cluster seeks to better define what we think an education in the Humanities should and can accomplish—and how—at the present time.

Cluster participants will address these questions through engagement with scholarship on teaching and learning in the humanities and beyond; workshopping actual pedagogical practices, including assignments, classroom activities, syllabus revisions, and program redesigns; and participation in a two-day symposium with invited speaker Cathy N. Davidson.

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Faculty and Graduate Student Participants

Principal Investigator: Jody Greene, Professor, Literature

Chessa Adsit-Morris, Graduate Student, HAVC
Noriko Aso, Associate Professor, History
Erik Bernadino, Graduate Student, History
Bristol Cave-LaCoste, Graduate Student, History
Alan Christy, Associate Professor, History
Rachel Deblinger, Director, Digital Scholarship Commons
Grace Delgado, Associate Professor, History
Nathaniel Deutsch, Professor, History and Literature
Janette Dinishak, Assistant Professor, Philosophy
David Donley, Graduate Student, Philosophy
Jessie Dubreuil, Lecturer, Writing Program
Maggie Edge, Graduate Student, Literature
Jonathan Ellis, Associate Professor, Philosophy
Jeffrey Erbig, Visiting Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies
Lara Galas, Graduate Student, Literature
Gabrielle Greenlee, Graduate Student, History of Art and Visual Culture
Kimberly Helmer, Teaching Professor, Writing Program
Andrea Hesse, Director, Academic Divisional Computing
Kara Hisatake, Graduate Student, Literature
Kate Jones, Associate Professor, History
Sean Keilen, Professor, Literature
Courtney Kersten, Graduate Student, Literature
Taylor Kirsch, Graduate Student, Literature
Akash Kumar, Visiting Assistant Professor, Literature
Stephanie Lain, Lecturer, Spanish
Philip Longo, Continuing Lecturer, Writing
Jennifer Macasek, Graduate Student, Literature
Alexandra Macheski, Graduate Student, HAVC
Alex Moore, Graduate Student, History of Art and Visual Culture
Matt O’Hara, Professor, History
Sarah Papazoglakis, Graduate Student, Literature
Tonya Ritola, Teaching Professor, Writing
Kyle Robertson, Lecturer, Philosophy
Daniel Rodriguez Ramirez, Graduate Student
Karina Ruiz, Graduate Student
Jennifer Russell, Graduate Student
Sheeva Sabati, Graduate Student, Education
Heather Shearer, Teaching Professor, Writing
Deanna Shemek, Professor, Literature
Amanda M. Smith, Assistant Professor, Literature
Elaine Sullivan, Assistant Professor, History
Cynthia Tibbetts, Graduate Student, Philosophy
Tsering Wangmo, Graduate Student, Literature
Zac Zimmer, Assistant Professor, Literature


March 1, 2018 – Cathy Davidson: “The New Education”