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Education Prof. Alison Cook-Sather Travels for Expert Meeting in the Netherlands

December 5, 2022
Alison Cook-Sahter, Khadijah Seay, and Ebony Graham standing in front of the Hague University in The Netherlands
From left to right: Khadijah Seay, Alison Cook-Sather, Ebony Graham

Last month, Professor Alison Cook-Sather traveled to the Netherlands to co-facilitate a two-day expert meeting on pedagogical partnerships in higher education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. With grant funding from the university, Cook-Sather was able to co-plan the workshop and bring with her Bryn Mawr alum Khadijah Seay ‘16 and Haverford senior Ebony Graham ‘23. 

Cook-Sather is the Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr and the director of the Bi-Co Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI). She is also the creator and director of the Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT) pedagogical partnership program at the Bi-Co, which has been running since 2007. Through SaLT, faculty and staff members partner with students in one-on-one partnerships, whole department explorations, or Pedagogy Circles to engage in dialogue about teaching and learning within and beyond classrooms. SaLT and the many other pedagogical partnership programs that Cook-Sather has helped develop focus on affirming and further developing inclusive and equitable pedagogical practices. 

Both Seay and Graham have worked closely with Cook-Sather as student consultants in the SaLT program and came into the workshop with several years of experience with faculty partners across various disciplines. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, Seay became a Post-baccalaureate Fellow for Pedagogical Partnership at Berea Collegeone of the first such roles.

At the workshop, representatives from higher education institutions across the world gathered to share experiences and insights on pedagogical partnership practices. During the two days, faculty, staff, and students from these institutions workshopped ideas with the overarching goal of supporting The Hague University of Applied Sciences' development of their own partnership program while drawing upon other partnership models around the world.

Cook-Sather often names power as a dynamic in partnership work. “Pedagogical partnerships complicate and reconceptualize power as a shared dynamicpower with rather than power over,” says Cook-Sather.

"When faculty and students (and staff) work together both to affirm existing practices and wrestle with pedagogical challenges, they gain insights into one another's perspectives that can inform not only classroom experiences for all involved, but also wider community engagement," she says. "One of the exciting things about having the opportunity to share experiences at an expert meeting like the one in the Netherlands is that we can see the patterns across institutions—patterns of empowerment and engagement of all involved in higher education work." 

Returning to Bryn Mawr, Cook-Sather and the students say that they bring an affirmed excitement for an international network and support community for pedagogical partnership.

"Going to the Netherlands was an amazing experience for me,” says Graham. “I learned so much at the expert meeting and felt energized after being with so many people who share the same goals and engaging in conversations about pedagogy in terms that feel concrete and possible. I met so many thoughtful, experienced, and insightful people and I’m incredibly grateful for this experience.” 

The international discussion and exchange of ideas at the workshop will form the basis for an issue of the Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education Journal to be published in 2024.

Alison Cook-Sather is internationally recognized as the leader in pedagogical partnership research and program development. She has consulted at nearly 80 institutions across 15 countries and regions to help them develop their own pedagogical partnership programs. 

Honored in 2022 as a recipient of the Stanford University Graduate School of Education's Alumni Excellence in Education Award, Cook-Sather's most recent work, published by Harvard Education Press, is Co-Creating Equitable Teaching and Learning: Structuring Student Voice into Higher Education.

Recently, Cook-Sather was invited by The Chronicle of Higher Education to speak on a “How to do Design Learning for Student Success” panel. To learn more about pedagogical partnership, you can view the panel recording here.

Education Teaching and Learning Institute