Teaching ExpertiseGAMBIER, Ohio (August 29, 2011)
A $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has set Kenyon on a course for greater innovation and cutting-edge ideas in teaching.
The Center for Innovative Pedagogy (CIP) is up and running for the new academic year, headquartered in the Olin Library. Center director Joseph M. Murphy and a staff of four instructional technologists will work with faculty members to enhance the art and science of teaching across the curriculum.
Provost Nayef H. Samhat said the pursuit of innovation in teaching is rooted in the expressed desire by faculty members to develop a central place to talk about teaching. "They are not only outstanding teachers but what makes them outstanding teachers is a commitment to explore and engage in conversations about pedagogy and curriculum," Samhat said. "It is this commitment to engage in these conversations that makes us one of the finest teaching institutions in the country."
A step in that direction is the grant approved by Mellon in June. Mellon provides $525,000 to develop the center and its programs over the three-year life of the grant and another $225,000 in endowment funds to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the College to sustain the CIP, the Writing Center, the Math and Science Skills Center, and the Teachers Teaching Teachers program. The CIP is intended to be a hub that helps coordinate and build on those other pedagogical resources, including the John B. McCoy - Banc One Distinguished Teaching Professorship, now held by Pamela Camerra-Rowe, associate professor of political science.
The CIP roadmap is guided by the "essentials"—points of teaching emphasis at Kenyon that include writing, quantitative reasoning, visual literacy, geography and interpretation of spatial phenomena, oral expression, and languages and cultural engagement.
Murphy and his group will boost the integration of technology into courses in every field of study, support student projects, and coordinate and present a series of events, including demonstrations, workshops, and discussion groups to enhance teaching. "We know the bulk of the faculty is really hungry for conversations about pedagogy that cut across departments and social networks," Murphy said. "They love teaching and they're good at it and they want to share that experience. And they have concerns, and they want to share the job of looking for solutions."
"What we envision here is a place of energy ... an environment that generates energy and that energy generates creativity and enthusiasm," Samhat said.
Higher education and scholarship make a core program area for the Mellon Foundation, based in New York City.