On Pedagogy and Collaboration
University 222 presents many opportunities for the campus, faculty, and students, from the GMC venue to the class size, from your collaboration as deans to the subject matter itself.
Given all of the above, what is your role in facilitating the course and helping to achieve UNIV 222’s objectives?
My role is to oversee course planning and implementation and to help to tie the various parts together. Dean Leeder was the first to point out the course needed a “ringmaster.” This fits perfectly within my responsibilities as Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Studies. I work with and across departments and schools and, with UNIV 222, across all of them at once to encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration that results in the implementation of new and exciting curriculum.
A significant portion of that kind of collaboration on campus to date has happened with Freshman Learning Communities, but I am also consulting with the School of Social Sciences on a sophomore year experience as well as engaging in a variety of other projects. UNIV 222 as a course will showcase not just the campus’ academic and intellectual scope, but also its multitude of resources like the Green Music Center, bringing them to MANY students all at once.
As one example, my work with the Music Department, which is resulting in eight mini-performances spread out over the course of the semester, is related to the goal of not only showing how perfect the Hall is for music, but also to introducing UNIV 222 students to the range of arts performances going on at Sonoma State. In addition, it's an exciting opportunity for the music students to perform to a large audience in the Hall. It's also part of our intention to create a solid connection between Weill Hall and SSU academics. We have to bring students to here to Weill Hall. Students don't yet see it as a part of their campus, and UNIV 222 can help to change that misconception.
What’s it like working with 750 students, and, of course, all of the deans and the provost?
Teaching 700 plus students in Weill Hall is not like teaching them elsewhere. We are marshaling incredible resources to create an intellectual and social bonding experience. It’s inspirational. There are opportunities for faculty incorporated too. Some of the deans are bringing others in to teach segments. What a rush.
I have to state how much fun it has been, and continues to be, working with the Deans on this project. I've worked with all of them over the years on administrative tasks and issues, but this project has taken us all back to our roots as scholars and teachers. The conversations have been intellectually enriching and rejuvenating.
In a broad sense, what opportunities are you excited about out of this class?
Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” This course will help us all to explore the possibilities of what can be done academically with this venue and by extension, class size. When I think of a very large lecture, I picture an enormous hall the one that comes to my mind is one at Berkeley that is an enormous semi-circle. You don’t’ feel connected to the speaker at all. Weill Hall offers an intimacy that belies the number of seats on ground floor. It’s quite extraordinary.