At its spring forum on April 30, 2014, the three committees of the Commission on the Liberal Arts presented their findings and preliminary recommendations to the Emory community. Each committee—Learning Through Instruction, Learning through Innovation, and Learning through Integration—offered sets of both immediate and more long-term projects and goals. The aims of their recommendations are to build on the many existing strong programs at Emory, in order to meet new challenges in higher education, have more flexible and permeable structures that facilitate innovative approaches to teaching and research; and share across disciplines and units the core values that affirm the principles of liberal education.

Among the committees recommendations:

Learning Through Instruction

Short-Term
  • Intellectual tailgating event during a visit by a high-profile Emory-affiliated figure
    •  Pre-event
    •  Post-event
  • Implementation of a Common Book or Performance
  • Virtual connected space on Instagram or Twitter
Long Term
  • Create an Emory liberal arts experience that is shared across units
  • Tell our story in such a way that we become known as a liberal arts research university
  • Provide opportunities for cross-school teaching and learning

Learning Through Innovation

Short Term

Pilot Project 1

  • URC-type funding to provide release time to develop cross-unit, team-based initiatives in creativity, discovery, research, and innovation
    • Faculty-led but with student input and involvement
    • Flexible and fluid in structure and life-cycle
    • Structured and supported to provide time and space (e.g., library)
    • Outcomes-based
    • Structured for follow-up activities
    • Based on existing successful models: Piedmont Project; Academic Learning Communities; Global Health Institute

Pilot Project 2

  • Expansion of SIRE program to pair undergraduate (future innovators) with graduate students (current innovators) in a systematic way

Pilot Project 3

  • Facilitation of cross-unit scholarly interaction
    • Forums for interacting across units (e.g., salons, faculty dining room, “speed dating” gathering)
    • Clearinghouse of faculty research interests
Long Term
  1. Cultivation of a culture of cross-unit innovation
  2. Sustainable incubator of entrepreneurial innovation
  3. “Pop and prestige” associated with participation in cross-unit innovation
  4. Evaluation of impact of cross-unit research projects

Learning Through Integration

The work of this committee is still in process, based largely on the still-open survey of the Emory community it began in late April. Their forthcoming recommendations will include

  • Establish user-friendly repository
  • Provide adequate infrastructure
  • Provide rewards & incentives
  • Improve faculty integration across ranks — adjunct, instructor, and tenured
  • Improve liberal arts/studies/learning models — past and present

Commission Chair and psychology professor Robyn Fivush also described some infrastructural changes already underway to address the following:

  • Creating processes to allow faculty to easily teach across units
  • Creating processes to allow students to easily enroll in courses across units
  • Development of more coordinated academic calendars
  • Development of more flexible types of course offerings
    • –Variable credits
    • –Variable time: semesters, mini-semesters, workshops, etc.
  • Development of a system for allocating teaching credits across units based on contact hours, student enrollment, etc.
  • Consideration of faculty evaluation/ reward structure for teaching and mentoring.

“Our goal,” she said, “is to increase flexibility: we envision more faculty opportunities to engage in cross-unit teaching and mentoring for those faculty who are interested. Our recommendations aim to increase possibilities, rather than requirements.”

In her response to the presentations, Provost Claire Sterk praised the thoughtful and focused work of the committees and added, “What we are talking about is culture change.” She also announced that Fivush had accepted an appointment in the Office of the Provost to work on implementation of many of the outcomes of the commission.

Click Below to Download PowerPoint Presentations from the Forum