The “Faculty Work and Student Learning in the 21st Century” initiative was launched in 2011 to encourage university consortia to think through how faculty work can and should change in response to the changing conditions—indeed, the changing nature—of undergraduate liberal education. The premise of the initiative was that faculty work will need to be re-configured for the 21st century, in light of the fact that liberal arts education has been re-defined as an education that leads to a well-defined range of cognitive capacities and personal competencies, rather than simply as content knowledge (though that is still an expectation). The initiative recognized that achieving these outcomes will increasingly come from engaged learning practices such as internships, service learning, research with faculty, study abroad, new uses of technology, and more. At the same time, resource constraints demand that colleges—and faculty—do their work in different ways.
The “Faculty Work” initiative was informed by a listening held in September 2010 that explored what a re-imagined liberal education might look like. Critical to the discussion were a number of recent trends in higher education that have changed the way liberal education is understood and practiced at colleges and universities across the country: the re-conception of liberal education as a range of broad cognitive abilities and personal and civic competencies; the desire, as well as the pressure, to know that students are achieving these outcomes; the increasing interest in applying research from the cognitive sciences on how people learn to teach, as well as approaches to student development outside the classroom; the evolving sophistication of online learning environments that do not seek to replace face-to-face instruction, but to support and enhance it; and the 2007-2009 financial crisis, which affected the circumstances of nearly all institutions of higher education. College deans and presidents, faculty, heads of consortial organizations, researchers, foundation colleagues, and others explored the implication of these trends for teaching and learning, and offered possible directions the Foundation might take.
The “Faculty Work” initiative supported ten projects led by higher education consortia since they have the capacity to serve as—and to provide—centralized resources for their member institutions. Project implementation timelines ranged from 2012 through 2015. The initiative reached close to 100 institutions and over 900 faculty. Funded projects piloted new approaches to pedagogy, course delivery, and assessment and explored redefinitions of faculty workload, departmental and institutional goals, and hiring, tenure and promotion criteria and practices.
In April 2013, when funded projects were at the rough mid-point, grantees came together in a Teagle-sponsored convening to share insights on cognitive science, technology, and the changing forms of faculty work. Key themes that emerged from the convening discussion are available here. In the Library & Resources section, see video clips of presentations by Lawrence Bacow, President Emeritus of Tufts University; Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; and Steven Zucker, Co-Dean of Art and History at the Kahn Academy.
Lessons learned from the initiative-wide external evaluation are available here.