Feature | 21 December 2017

Teaching the Humanities now

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“The Humanities Institute was very generously willing to come along with me on an entire project on pedagogy,” says Jody Greene, founding director of the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), a resource center for higher education teaching transformation at UC Santa Cruz.

CITL and The Humanities Institute have co-sponsored a research cluster called “Teaching and Learning in the Humanities Now” in an effort to respond to two urgent needs: the growth and diversification of UCSC’s student body and a growing concern nationally that critical intellectual skills are not being fostered at the secondary level or beyond. Despite the strength of Humanities at UCSC, there has been little focus on classroom innovation—on how rather than what we teach. “The sciences are way ahead,” says Greene. “They’ve been making big changes—more active learning, more interesting uses of technology, and programs that address inclusivity.”

This research cluster aims to close that gap by exploring what’s distinctive and valuable about a humanities education and establishing ways of realizing that value in today’s classrooms, while equipping our students with expertise that will prepare them to thrive in a world—and a workplace—in constant flux. Forty-two percent of UC Santa Cruz students are the first in their families to go to college—a dramatic increase over decades past. The demographic shift is just one of three major changes that affect both how we teach and how our students learn, according to Greene. In addition to shifting demographics, the evolving role of technology and an expanded body of education research should prompt a recalibration of teaching methods, she says.

Learn more about the upcoming event with Cathy Davidson on “The New Education,” presented by the UC Santa Cruz Humanities Institute and Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.