What is it?
The summer syllabus workshop sequence presents the opportunity for new and existing faculty to enhance their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The workshops are led by experienced BiCo colleagues who work in dialogue with students trained in pedagogical partnership through the Teaching and Learning Institute. Participants will be guided to consider the ways that their syllabi, in a broad range of fields, meet the needs, and goals of diverse student learners and direct attention to the ways that equity literacy, anti-racist literacy, and techniques of decolonization are purposely considered. Creating a community of individuals who are exploring syllabus development helps to encourage collaboration, reflection, and the consideration of multiple perspectives, and establishes pathways out of what Shulman called the “pedagogical solitude” that has sometimes limited and burdened the hard work of teaching.
History of the Syllabus Workshop Sequence
Now in its 15th year, this project was originated and led for the first several years by Alison Cook-Sather, Professor of Education and Director of the Teaching and Learning Institute (TLI) at Bryn Mawr College. From the start, it has exemplified the hallmark of the TLI -- pedagogical partnership -- and has included students with training and experience as Student Consultants in the design and delivery of each session. This valuing of student voice and students as knowers in pedagogical process affords workshop participants a unique opportunity to think with and learn directly from students currently taking courses at the Colleges as well as recent alums.
From the TLI emerged two opportunities to step out of "pedagogical solitude":
- Pedagogical Partnerships with Undergraduate Student Consultants. These can be semester- or year-long partnerships (which include weekly classroom observations and weekly meetings with the consultant) or short-term partnerships (e.g., one-time session to gather mid-semester feedback). Student Consultants bring their own individual perspectives as students (not an omniscient or representative student perspective) and skills to engage in discussion. They do not have any definitive answers or solutions to perennial pedagogical challenges, and thus the expectation is not that you should simply implement anything they suggest. Rather, dialogue with Student Consultants constitutes a newly informed conversation about classroom practice.
- Open Pedagogy Conversations. These are discussions of any pedagogical issues that faculty and staff members wish to explore together. We discuss faculty/staff-proposed topics such as: question framing and discussion facilitation; developing effective assignments; organizing effective presentations that are useful not only for the presenter but for the entire class; communicating about and using office hours; and more. Sometimes, TLI student consultants come to share their perspectives as well. You may drop in to one or two sessions when you have time and inclination, or you may participate regularly in sessions on either campus or both campuses. These sessions will be held in late afternoons and at lunch on selected days throughout the year.
How to use the website
This website is offered as a resource for faculty in all stages of syllabi development - origination (before), development process (during), and revision stage (after). On the Tools and Resources page, you will find tabs to each of the areas.
*A note on the intentionality and difficulty of imagery*
What does it look like to create and rethink syllabi?
While choosing images for the pages of this website, we saw how connected this question is to the larger project of this website: to develop syllabi that honor diversity, promote equity and inclusion, and spur decolonizing practices of thought.
The images on these pages are offered as a way of steering away from mainstream imagery. They may give pause. They may invite curiosity about what, after all, syllabus design deals with and relates to?
These images draw on the examples of growth, collaboration, change and survival found abundantly in nature. Here, much inspiration comes from adrienne maree brown’s thinking in Emergent Strategy and beyond, celebrating the ways of emergence and their lessons for our learning. Also, inspiration is found in the many survivals of living things.