LA&S Supports Faculty in New Interdisciplinary and Team-Teaching Initiative

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce support for faculty development of interdisciplinary, team-taught courses. LA&S has awarded stipends to two pairs of faculty who will spend the summer designing two interdisciplinary courses. Each pair expects to team teach the new interdisciplinary course in spring 2015. Faculty members will be paid a stipend of $2,500 each for the course design.

Daniel Lipson
Daniel Lipson

The prospective teams are Daniel Lipson, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Rosemary Millham, Assistant Professor of Secondary Education, to team-teach the spring 2015 course, Climate Change and You; and Anne Roschelle, Professor of Sociology, and Luz Porras, Lecturer in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, for the course Guatemalans of Brief Childhood. Porras is also affiliated with the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

The faculty development initiative will be funded through the LA&S Dean’s Fund and the Faculty Development Endowment Fund. “I am immensely pleased to provide this professional development opportunity to faculty and grateful for the gifts that have made it possible,” said Dean Stella Deen. “This LA&S program aligns well with our strategic plan goal to nurture innovation and the learning environment. It also helps LA&S realize its commitment to enhancing the intellectual experiences of our students through interdisciplinary courses and programs.”

Rosemary Millham
Rosemary Millham

Applicants for the faculty development funding were asked to provide a rationale for an interdisciplinary course approach, indicating how it would enhance knowledge of a topic and serve students’ needs. Faculty were also encouraged to adopt innovative pedagogies or technologies to teach the course.

In their application, Lipson and Millham noted that conversations and debates on climate change are too often “rooted at best in misunderstandings of the scientific and social scientific data and at worst, in propaganda that fly in the face of scientific knowledge.”

Millham holds a PhD in Environmental Geography and Lipson’s teaching interests include American and environmental politics. The professors plan to structure the course to introduce students to one environmental-related issue each week, such as extreme weather and alternative energy, through the lens of science and politics. Students will also learn how to interpret and extrapolate evidence-based data to make informed decisions about climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Tentative course readings include The International Panel on Climate Change Report, the National Climate Assessment and readings by climate change activist Bill McKibben of 350.org. The course will also utilize technology, via videoconferences with NASA and NOAA scientists, online simulations, videos, and either a dedicated wiki site or a traditional Blackboard course page.

Anne Roschelle
Anne Roschelle

Roschelle and Porras’s course, Guatemalans of Brief Childhood, will explore the present culture of violence in Guatemala, as well as the impact of gendered violence, the drug trade and poverty on the increased migration and asylum seeking among Guatemalan youth.

Luz Porras
Luz Porras

A service-learning component of the course will allow students to conduct a research project with Guatemalan refugees at the Family Reunification Program for Undocumented Youth at the Children’s Home of Kingston and for Undocumented Mothers at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie.

A search committee comprised of Deen, History Professor Lee Bernstein and Assistant Professor of Economics Edith Kuiper selected the two proposals after ranking and commenting on all the proposals received.

In addition to the development stipends, the new program to support interdisciplinary and team teaching will enable the LA&S Dean to award additional $300 stipends to up to four faculty members chosen by the team teachers to enhance the interdisciplinary nature of their classes.

– Despina Williams