HILT 2019 Conference: Afternoon panel

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Peer learning– so this
is obviously something that each of us has some
personal linkage to. And for me, I received on day
5 after I started teaching here at Harvard at Harvard
Business School feedback from my students,
saying, can you talk less and just
give us more space to discuss with each other? [LAUGHTER] I thought it was a
little presumptuous. But I decided to give them
space, a lot of space. And I’d jump in every so often. And after a few days, I
had a bunch of students, who came up and said,
those are the best sessions we’ve had all year and so on. [LAUGHTER] I said, I’m glad you’re
enjoying it, because I’m not. [LAUGHTER] They said, what do you mean? And I said, I feel
I’m losing control. And they said, no,
you’re in total control. And for me, that was the
light bulb that went off, which is it’s ironic how much
time we spend sort of trying to, quote unquote
“impart wisdom,” because we think we
have a responsibility to give something. But we don’t give enough
credit to our students. And just thinking this morning– I was telling Mike what I
found fascinating was he and Cecil were talking
about character and trust and confidence. And our students spend
most of their lives on campus in the
academic classroom. And how much time do we spend
thinking about those things relative to content? It’s just a thought that
I’m left with obviously, becoming more important in
digital and online worlds. And for this afternoon,
I wanted to close with inviting Robyn
Gittleman and Rakesh Khurana to a fireside chat, so
to speak, without the fire– [LAUGHTER] –to talk about one of the
most unusual institutions that I think any of
us have encountered, the ExCollege, the
Experimental College, at Tufts. How many of you
have heard of it? It’s about 20%, 15%. Imagine students
at a top university could decide on a
course that they want taught that doesn’t exist
in the curriculum, reflecting current interests and events
or something more far reaching. The students select what
courses that would be offered. The students teach
together with some faculty. This was started more than
50 years ago at Tufts. Robyn Gittleman–
we’re incredibly fortunate to have her today. She led this college
for 40 years. Plus. [LAUGHTER] Plus. Thank you. And she’s going to be
speaking with our own Rakesh Khurana, Dean of
Harvard College and one of the most thoughtful persons
about undergraduate education anywhere that I know– [BACKGROUND CHATTER] who
is intimately familiar, himself, with one
of the features of ExCollege, which
is active learning through his own
professional career. And I’ll just quote
you something. This is what Robyn said. Tufts is special, because it
allows ExCollege to exist. And ExCollege is
special, because it helps create the
world-class education that Tufts students expect. For many years,
Robyn’s ExCollege was allowed to exist because
of their president Larry Bacow. So if Larry has blessed
it, Robyn is here, and Rakesh is
sympathetic to it, who knows what might happen
after this discussion? Since Robyn and I have this very
long, extended relationship– we met each other on phone,
like, about 10 days ago, we were trying to think
about what would be the most sort
of productive way to kind of engage
in the session? And so what we’re hoping
for, just to sort of kind of is a very interactive session. I think one of the things
that we talked about– we don’t want to talk at people. We want to talk with
them to kind of model, you know, a little bit
about the importance of the interactive
nature and maybe even the pedagogy of
what ExCollege does. But also– but that it was also
important maybe to provide some context a little bit–
so especially, I think– Bharat, thank you for
that introduction. Thank you for inviting us– that it’s, you know, not
everybody’s as familiar. Some people may be
more familiar with it and how it might be
helpful to just get a little bit of the context
of you, Robyn, of your– and this sort of
theory of ExCollege and you know, to learn
a little bit about that. I would probably spend
a couple of minutes, because I was
reflecting after we spoke about how is it we think
about learning and teaching? And some of it gets
to what you raised, Bharat, which is sort of the
implicit theories that many of us still might carry in sort
of traditional environments about the role of peers, the
role of the faculty, the power relationships, the– where does the expertise arise? Just share a couple
minutes of reflections, and then, really sort of dive
into a couple more aspects of that of ExCollege, and
then open it up for everyone. Does that sound OK? So Robyn– Yeah, OK. Yeah, share a little bit about
your history, your background, and who you are and
your relationship. Well, in 1971, my husband and
family came back from Europe. And I decided that I was not
going to sit home any longer. And so I did it the
old-fashioned way. I went to a cocktail
party and said, oh, I’m looking for a job. And someone said,
I know of a job. [LAUGHTER] And so I started at
$4.50 an hour part-time. So for all the women
in the work world now and for everybody
else, it was a hard fight. But here I am. [APPLAUSE] The Experimental College– this
is like talking about my baby. So if I get off, you
will have to stop me. In 1962, the president of
the university at that time felt that Tufts was just
sort of sitting there as a sort of an all gray school. And nothing very exciting was
happening so that, in fact, he called together–
remember what I’m saying– the administration, not the
children, in 1962, said, OK. Let’s see who we can get
to form a committee to see what possibilities there are. So in fact, he called together
a number of administrators and a number of faculty
and some students– 1962. 1962 was not part
of the ’60s yet. [LAUGHTER] In 1964, when the ExCollege
actually started functioning, was not– it was a very
quiet time on campuses. But for whatever
reason, this grouping decided that they could
break down any barriers. They were not given
any instructions other than to meet and come up
with something in two years. So the Experimental College
began with faculty and students on their board. I mean, you have to
keep putting in context what it was like in
1964 to put students on the same level
as the faculty. We had four faculty
and four students and then five faculty
and five students. And that was what
went on for 40 years. That was the governing board. The faculty were not paid. They were not
given any time off. The students were not paid
or given any academic credit. It was of pure love
there that they wanted to do something different. And by breaking
down that barrier– those barriers immediately,
everything else sort of fell, you know. So somebody said, well, in ’68,
somebody said, why can’t we have students teach? And nobody said, you can’t. They said, well,
what do people know? And he said, there
are students that have some real good background,
or there are some questioning. In 1968, race issues
were beginning to move around campus. And so people were
teaching about that. When I started in 1971, we
had two students teaching. One taught COBOL. And one taught FORTRAN. That’s what they were teaching
in the engineering school, but not in arts and sciences. The Experimental College
was an undergraduate piece but became quickly integrated
into the whole curriculum. And it started with having a
five-year sort of trial period and then another five years. And then, the full faculty
voted it in after 10 years. And it has been a part of
the university in that way. So students have been
an integral part. And they started
teaching courses. In the ’60s, the late
’60s– ’68, ’69, ’70– there were huge numbers
of courses, anything that you could think of. Like, when I sort of
looked at it at one point, they had dashiki
making as a course. But it was a time
that people needed to let students figure out what
it was that they were doing. But they were always
very academic courses. People said, well–
the faculty complained. And I’m sure a lot
of you will say, how did the faculty
allow this to happen to have students teach? And we kept saying they
are not major experts. But they are mini experts. And they really
have great questions so they asked about
those questions. And they started a syllabus. By working together
on their syllabus, having interviews,
then having a seminar each semester on a weekly
basis, they got the support that they needed from faculty,
from myself most often, and then went off. And we have had great successes
with student teaching. Some of them just had a whim
and wanted to teach something that they had a big
question or a big book that they wanted to
talk about in depth. And others sort of took
what they were interested in and are now– we have lots of people from–
that taught in the Experimental College that are
now on faculties all around the country
and in Europe, as well. And we also have people
that have taken– somebody I met the
other day said, remember the course I taught
in the Experimental College? And I said, disk jockeying? And he said, yeah, but now,
I’m a professional disk jockey. And I go around making lots
of money, let me tell you. [LAUGHTER] And somebody else was talking
about dolphins and whales. And now, he’s a
major person in– I think he’s in Arizona
someplace teaching about that at the university. So it isn’t just a flip. Sometimes people just want
to learn how to teach. Sometimes they want to
really work with the subject that they have. And sometimes they’re
going to be a professional in one way or the other. So I don’t know. Maybe I’ll stop now. And then, you can ask questions. And I can come back. Sure. Great. Thank you. So you– just even
in that description, there was sort of
three or four things that I want to just ask a little
bit about, which you know, maybe gets to thinking about the
institutional context of where teaching happens. So one dimension you described
is, like, basically this notion of decreasing the vertical
space between, like, a faculty member and a student. And it’s rooted partly
maybe in our notions that there is an expert,
which is also a word. And then, there is
sort of a non-expert. And the job of the
expert is to sort of, you know, transfer knowledge
through some combination of– I don’t know– behaviorism,
like, you know, memorize this. And I’ll keep testing you
on it until, like, you– if I condition
you enough, you’ll eventually say your
multiplications fast enough, or
some notion of, let me hear your thinking process. And I’ll tell you
where you went wrong, which I think is another
way that we often think about education. And here, you’re sort of
describing a very different kind of interaction. And I was wondering
if you could share. Like, how did you
get the faculty to feel comfortable with
being uncomfortable? Not easy– [LAUGHS] I think what happened
is that by the time you get students and
faculty working together on a flat plane,
making decisions, they realize that, in fact,
students have something to say. We have included as many
faculty as we possibly can. The Experimental College
just doesn’t just have peer-taught courses. We have courses taught
by outside folks. They’re– about 25 or 30
courses each semester are taught by, what we call,
visiting lecturers. And one of the
things that we said is that we weren’t
looking for degrees. We were looking for expertise. So by looking for
expertise, we got people that were really
interested and excited about their subject and
sometimes didn’t have a PhD. Some of the times,
they had a master’s. But sometimes they
just had a BA. And we ask about it– so include a resume and all. But the truth of the
matter is everybody needs to be able to teach
and want to teach. All of our classes are
kept to 20 or fewer. And so by keeping
the classes small, you automatically have
that type of interaction. There’s very little lecturing. I think that in any
class, be it the visiting lecturers or our own
students, people get up, set the tone for class,
and try to tell you this is what the
assignment was before. Anybody have any questions? Let’s talk about that. And then, it gets to work and
breaking down those barriers– small groups, larger
groups, interaction. We’ve used case
studies very often. And it was at the
very beginning that we started using case studies
so that everybody could take home, look
at it, work on it, and come back and have a
decision one way or the other. So then, I think just trying
to feel that everybody has something to contribute– OK. Not even– not everybody
in any classroom is completely even and equal. But everybody has something to
say if you give them this space to say it. And that’s, I think, what
you were saying before, that you could– we could get
up and talk the whole time. But in fact, there are a lot
of interesting ideas out there. And you want to
get that out, too. And that’s where
people then jump off and get lots of other
answers and questions out. The one thing I should mention
is those visiting lecturers that we have. And we can sometimes
have 100 people put in to teach in the
Experimental College. We have a budget for 22 or so. And the way we do
that is besides giving of asking for a full
syllabus and a resume and recommendations–
but to be honest, the recommendations are all–
they’re the best people I want. So we have our own
faculty and the student– I said– let’s say we have
something in political science. I would send it to the
political science department and ask somebody there. So it’s very nice to
have been there 40 years, because I know a lot of people– [LAUGHTER] –so that I can
send it to a friend. I can send it to somebody,
whose field it is. And they will tell us, yeah,
but he forgot this book. Or she didn’t ask this question. And then, we have a faculty
member and two students on a subcommittee to
interview each person so that if we’re– now, we’re having
80 people come to talk to small groups. And it’s an
individual interview. So by the time they’re– first of all, we’re
inviting– we’re getting students and faculty
to work together on that level. We’re also getting faculty
to tell us what they think. So it’s not just
students saying, oh, it sounds like
a great topic. We have some real good
interaction there. And then, the board– faculty and students, again– vote. And so it’s really a sense
that people honor each other and care about each other. And the Experimental College
has been around so long that it really is
an integral part of the undergraduate experience. Great. Thank you. Yeah, I’m sorry. I– I don’t want to have to
keep making you get up, too. But so you feel free– But I do. OK. So if you’re comfortable– When you’re this size,
you’ve got to stand. [LAUGHTER] I know that. So– [LAUGHTER] I’m not really the center
of the basketball team here. So similar question on that–
so one of the things when I was kind of reading about the
background of ExCollege– and you alluded to it earlier
in your opening remarks– was that there were many–
there was a flexibility in that curriculum to
talk about subjects that hadn’t sort
of been in the sort of traditional disciplines. Students were interested–
you mentioned race earlier in your opening
remarks, which you know, given the way at that point– In ’68– –yeah, particular political
moment and cultural moment, and at the same time,
not necessarily in line with where the
disciplines were in terms of whose voices were heard or
what was sort of seen as sort of central to a syllabus. Two questions– one is did you
eventually see the questions and the topics or even the
readings or whatever it was that were taught in the
Experiment College– what was their relationship to
the traditional disciplinary departments, to the faculty? And in what ways
did you see success in terms of their openness? And in what ways
what did you see challenges when receiving
certain of the materials? Here I go again. OK. [LAUGHTER] Well, one rule was, especially
with the visiting lecturers, that if they were
overlapping significantly with anything in
the curriculum, they were pushed aside right away. So we weren’t trying to
compete with our own faculty. We were trying to supplement
and complement that. So when you got–
when I first started working in the early
’70s, women’s studies was just around the corner. And we– the people that
wrote Our Bodies, Ourselves, you know, depending on your age
or whatever, knew Our Bodies, Ourselves was a paperback book
selling for $0.10 originally. And I had one to
give to my daughter. So I know. They were teaching a course
about Our Bodies, Ourselves in the Experimental College. Well, I’m sure there were
places around in the curriculum. But there wasn’t
anything that was really, A, teaching from a woman’s
perspective, and B, about a woman’s thing. The African-American
type courses that we were having were coming
not from theorists or somebody that studied way back
when, but to sort of talk about the communities
that were happening now. So that was the way we
dealt with all that. The students came from a
very different perspective. And as I say, something like
COBOL or FORTRAN at that point was way out there. What are they doing? And then, slowly but surely, it
was picked up by a department. So we became an incubator
for a lot of things– women’s studies, black
studies, environmental studies. Peace and justice came out
of the Experimental College. There were all those sort
of what we might not– they were pretty much integrated
into the community now– were fringe things that we
could try and figure out. And it touched on
some of the stuff. So you know, some
biology courses may have been talking
about swamps and forests. But they weren’t talking
about the environment in its full sense. And that was a way that we
were able to bridge all that. And also, again, we didn’t
have large lectures. So it was a different
type of experience. Yeah, I know that’s
really helpful, because I think one of the
things that, in my current role as dean of the college, we
often hear from students is that our curriculum isn’t
responsive or flexible enough to talk about certain
issues to the day. And we obviously try in a
variety of different areas to be as responsive. But I think fields and
disciplines in the organization of a profession operates at
a different time space, given the urgency of problems that
students are seeing or the– and it’s really interesting
to try to think about, can we create these
kind of incubators, where questions actually
guide us rather than answers? I think that’s another
way that’s sort of– Yeah. –slightly different. I think, as scholars
and academics, you feel sort of
responsibility to be– if there’s going to
be a question asked, we better have a good answer
or need to feel comfortable with that answer versus I think
just holding the question out there and everybody sort
of working their way– Yeah. –to answer. It’s a different kind of model. And it’s an interesting way. If you don’t mind me
asking you a question, so what was the resistance–
was there any resistance? If so, where did it come from? How, from a resource
perspective, whenever there’s sort of,
you know, the ebbs and flows in a kind of institution’s life
to sort of feed something more or you know, to try to
think about putting it somewhere else, how did
you manage through that? The resource part was simple. We have a budget
that we work out of. But it’s a very small budget. And we pay very little. Is there anybody here that
taught in the Experimental College? Wow. Well, you know– Wow, there’s a whole
group out there. –you were making $4.50 an hour. So I– you kind of– Well, that’s right. But now, I think that
we’re paying $4,000– $4,500. That’s not what the part-time
people at Tufts make. They make quadruple that. But that’s what we pay. And you think, well,
who wants to teach for that amount of money? But you’re teaching at Tufts. You’re teaching
Tufts undergraduates. You’re teaching your
subject, your baby. Very often, we get people that
have just finished their PhD or are graduate students. And they really are experts
on the subject that they are writing their dissertation on. There’s no ba– they
know the newest stuff. They know what they’re doing. And we give them a
small soapbox to get on and to get everybody else’s
opinion so that people very often even work
out a book idea, because they have a subject. And the students are open to it. And they can do that. Tufts students are a lot
like Harvard students and anybody else’s students. They’re really good. And so you give
them the opportunity to do their own research. And they really do a good job. And so we don’t have– we didn’t have the resistance. In the ’70s, when– again, I
can graph it with my hands. I mean, the ’60s
was very exciting. The ’70s– I don’t know
how many of you were around in the ’70s– was plenty flat. There wasn’t much happening. And so the faculty was
then getting very itchy. Who are these people trying
all these new things? And we are doing the same
stuff so that that’s when we got the people pushing back. Who’s teaching? How can you have
students– how can you have somebody that doesn’t
have a PhD teach and give the same credit, OK, the same
credit towards graduation? So it’s not for your
major necessarily. But it could work
into your major, depending on what your
department thinks. For the most part, it
wasn’t for your major. So we weren’t competing there. It wasn’t for– we were
paying very little. A lot of people were
coming in from the outside. And when someone, you
know, would come and say, well, I want to teach
about Shakespeare. We say, wait a minute. We have Shakespeare in
the English department. We have Shakespeare in
the drama department. What do you want to
teach about Shakespeare? And they said, well, we want
to teach about the women. Now, of course, that’s in there. But at that point, women in
Shakespeare was not a course. Or we want to talk
about Shakespeare and their contemporaries
so that there were ways of switching things over. One thing I didn’t
mention is that we have a very large program
for entering students. It’s peer taught or peer
advised with a faculty advisor, as well. So the faculty advisor is
part of the explorations. And the two students
are the teachers. OK. And the original model– [LAUGHS] –this is where it
didn’t always work out– [LAUGHS] –the original model was that
one faculty member would come– the faculty member
would come and sit in, not being the
faculty, but being one of the students in the group. So you sort of say,
here you are here. And now, we’re pushing you down
with the first-year students. Well, what happened
is the faculty said, I don’t really want to be
here, because I don’t– they know more than I do. They care more than I do. I’m just here for– because I’m supposed to be here. So they would come for the
first half hour and then leave. And then, the
students would teach for the rest of the course. But those subjects were
very, very interesting. And people would come to me and
say, I want to teach about air. [LAUGHTER] What– how can you
teach about air? And they said, well, you can
talk about planes, airplanes. You can talk about how
air dries clothing. You can talk about– and
they went on and on– books, you know, The Red Balloon. And then, they talked
about Winnie the Pooh. I mean, it went on and on. They had– [LAUGHTER] So air was– you could teach– I believe after this
experience that I’ve had, you can teach anything
in an academic way. You just have to think
about it in an academic way. There’s literature. There’s culture. There is bringing in experts,
who are in different areas so that you could make a very
good course even though it is initiated in a way
that is sort of like, huh? And you’re not quite sure
how to put it together. But they come up with a 13-week
semester with exams and papers mostly, a few exams. That’s great. I have one more question. And then, we’ll open it
up, because we talked just now a lot about content. And I want to connect
it to something, you know, around
participant-centered learning and kind of peer learning. So you know, Bharat
learned it in five classes, that how to kind of pull
back and choreograph a class for many– for
myself, it took a lot longer. And if you think about that, not
just sort of as creating space, but also there’s a kind of– there’s a pedagogical theory
underneath that actually about how you can choreograph
appropriately your role, how you develop an environment,
where the students trust to take risks and won’t feel
like if they make a mistake, it’ll be sort of a
corrective moment, rather than a learning moment. There’s an environment
in which you are cognizant of who’s speaking
and who isn’t speaking, how you bring their voices
that not all of that comes to people naturally. In fact, it may be a
very unnatural act. Did you develop approaches so
that these kinds of pedagogies could be taught, that
they could be evaluated, that people had a capacity to
have some kind of self-critique or have others provide feedback
in a kind of student– like, what was the way that you made
sure it didn’t just end up with a mini lecture, or
largely just reproducing– Yeah. –some other things that
were happening in the more traditional classrooms? I think that was
less the question. The most important
thing is to make sure that something was
happening, you know, because we don’t have
professional teachers. And they could have the
best ideas but never able to get it across. Before I forget, I should
mention to you that any student-taught course, be it
for the first year students or for anybody across there– is a pass-fail,
that we do not feel that students should be giving
their peers letter grades. And so in that
case, at Tufts, it doesn’t count for your major. It doesn’t count– unless
you’re getting something special from– you might write an extra
paper that a faculty member in the department would read. It doesn’t count
to distribution. It doesn’t count for foundation. So people in the
classes are there, because they want to be there
and not because you check it off as something else. So that’s– there were checks
and balances all the way through. Tell me your question again. Did you teach
people how to create this kind of flat classroom? So after– when we– because
of the interview process, you right away know is this
going to be somebody that’s going to talk, talk like this? Or are they actually
going to speak to you? And so you’re getting
the cream already of people that want to teach and
can teach, for the most part. Then, we have an
introductory meeting. And people come and say, oh,
would you copy my syllabus? And they give me an
eight-page syllabus, you know, and that sort of thing. And then, what I did– and
I know that it’s carrying on now– is that we introduce them to
what we call the Experimental College way of teaching. And that is to really
involve the students. So in that very first class,
don’t go and read your lecture notes to say this and
this and this and this, but rather to say, OK. How many of you have done this? You know, right
away, you’re getting them to raise their hand. Or break into groups according
to where you live and talk about what was the most
important thing in your family, if you’re talking about
a sociology course or a psychology course, or
if it’s a literature course, break them up right– in
that very first class, you’re breaking up– even if
it’s a class of 15 people– into groups of threes. And if it’s a very small class–
and every now and then we have a class of 10 people or so– that you then have just pairs,
and let them start talking. And then say, OK. Who would volunteer to
say this, this, and this? So I would do that
in the first meeting when it’s just an
introduction orientation. And people would say
to me, oh, you better give me back my syllabus. And before we had a chance to
even think about copying it, they came back and
said, well, I’ll send you something
on email right away, you know, the next day
so that it can be copied. And they get an idea of
what the ExCollege is. We don’t really talk
about theory very much. And we don’t talk about their
past experience if they have– and their graduate
work or in their– what they were
doing, but rather do say to people, what is
it that you remember as one of your better
experiences in the classroom, or have people sort say,
you know, don’t sit still. But move around. So you give– without
giving them theory, you’re giving them
background in all. And as I say, with
peer teaching, they met once a week with
me, but with each other. And I’ll say, OK. What was any great
successes or failures? And the successes they don’t
want to talk about too much. It’s the failures that
they say, oh, I tried this. And nobody spoke. You know, and somebody
said, did you try this? Did you try that? So it’s a lot of collaboration. You know, it’s really great. I’m going to open
it up for questions. But it’s interesting
just, again, those examples that
you gave, creating a community of practice among
people, who were teaching, letting them share
with each other. The fact that this is a
non-evaluative space in which people are teaching,
which you know, I think sometimes
for our educators, promotion decisions or– Right. –tenure decisions–
this is, you know, makes people a little bit more
kind of want to have control, because you know, you
feel like you’re having a valuation connected to it. Right. And you’re thinking about– I mean, you’re sharing a
very different set of spaces that you’re creating
for people, who are– Absolutely. Absolutely. –teaching. And I think it’s important
lessons for us to take actually even into our regular classrooms
about how we sort of share this. But I think also, you know,
the last thing that really sort of struck me about
what you just said is, it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s that– you know, and using
that as a learning opportunity and modeling– Absolutely. –very much the theory. I know you said you’d
stay away from theory but modeling the
theory of what you believed ExCollege could do. Yeah, we do have a
mid-semester evaluations for all our classes. And we try to make it on
the early side of mid. So it’s in about the
sixth week or so so that people can get the answers. And that’s– Corrective action. –the faculty may give
their own evaluation. It doesn’t come from our
censor or anything like that. And then, they have a
chance to look at it. I then collect it. So I have a chance– a sense of what was happening. But the reality is it
was their questions. And very often,
they say, you know, what was your favorite book? Or why did you– what didn’t you like,
and asked a question that asks them to write– do some criticism. And then, there’s another
evaluation at the end. So we know if they want to
teach again if it’s of value. Yeah. Great So open it up for the– our audience– thoughts,
questions, remarks. Great. I’m going to walk around
and channel my inner Oprah. We’ll just go ahead
and take questions. And I will do a cold
call if no one’s offered. Yeah, Gabe. Hi, thanks so much for sharing. I’m Gabe Abrams. I’m work at the
Extension School. And I work half the
time on developing tools and half the time on
pedagogy and education. And I had a question about
demand for the classes. So I got a sense of how
you chose people to teach. How did you know
that people were going to attend the classes
once you brought out a– Well– –new concept? –that’s a good question,
but it’s an easy answer. Great. [LAUGHS] You’re inviting students
into the evaluative process. Remember, s were the ones
that are evaluating them after meeting the interview. And also, then our board has
students, as well as faculty. We make some mistakes
but very few. And they filled
very, very quickly. Part of it is the subject. Part of it is the ambiance of
the sense that you’re there. Everybody wants to be there. And you know, as you say, if
there’s not a greater value– if there’s a visiting lecture,
they do get letter grades. But all grades are no
different than anybody else’s. And so those that want answers,
you know, you can do it, because it’s a small
group, you know. Great. Yeah, thank you. Other questions, thoughts? Yeah, Allison. Hi, I’m Allison Pingree. I’m at the Graduate
School of Education now, but have been at different
teaching and learning centers across Harvard and
also previously at Vanderbilt. I’m curious about
the role over time, if any, of the Teaching and Learning
Center on campus at Tufts. And I’m wondering
to what extent there may be some analogy between
the incubation impact that happened to
content and readings in courses in the regular
curriculum that bubbled out of the ExCo. Is there any analogy
to the incubational aspects around pedagogy
that bubbled out of the ExCo that then landed
at the Teaching and Learning Center or for that
matter, anywhere else? I often find that the Teaching
and Learning Centers are ahead of the faculty so that they
connect with us right away. The other role that the
Experimental College plays is that it also is there to
give credit to what sometimes doesn’t– there’s no department
for things to do. So we have a number of RAD
courses, rape acquaintance defense courses. Well, it doesn’t sit any place. So that comes and is in
the Experimental College. So the subject is different. When people– we have
a writing center. And they do seminars
for their writing. Well, it’s not an
English course. And we don’t have any
writing department. So they get their credit
through us, as well. So we’re really overlapping
in a lot of things. Yeah, what we do, they do. But most people– way
back when, everybody was willing and able
to say lecturing is not the only way to
get subjects across. And so we really do
work well with them. I’ve been on their boards. We encourage our own faculty
to go to their seminars that they’re doing
and stuff, you know. Other questions. This way. Right behind over there. Great. Oprah can’t run this fast. [LAUGHTER] Hello, my name is
Manja Klemencic. I teach in sociology and gen ed. I was wondering,
hearing your experience with Experimental
College whether there would be any other
variation of it that we could possibly consider
in a place like Harvard? And this is pretty much a
question to both of you. [LAUGHTER] We have– we have
special concentrations. We have undergraduate students
as course teaching assistants. We have [INAUDIBLE],,
Bok Center, students as teaching consultants. And I’m just trying
to think, you know, are there any
other variations, apart from going all the way
into the Experimental College that you could possibly
foresee in an institution that is concerned about
giving students more agency in the
co-constructive knowledge? Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I’ve gotten many people,
many schools come to visit. And my answer can be a
really quick and dirty one. I’m not sure it can happen now. [LAUGHTER] What happened in the ’60s
when things were very quiet and there wasn’t the competition
for jobs, et cetera– they allowed us to flourish. And it was like 1,000
flowers sort of blooming. I’m not sure that you could get
it integrated, except that you have the center here. I mean, it seems to be that
you have a lot to start with. And we will– where are you? We were having lunch
and trying to figure out what could happen here. You have such a great place. Do you do this? That’s what I kept saying. Have you tried this? Does this happen? Not to make suggestions,
but for my own background– and there are things that
can pop up, you know. You could have classes here and
get credit one way or the other or not get credit. We, at the Experimental
College, we often had four-week sessions or alumni
coming in and giving a half a credit when we–
or we work on– well, we’re working at
the credit system. Now, we’re working on
the three-hour system but so that there were ways of
doing things that can either be attached to departments
would be my thought or in fact, some center, where
you already have a place, where it could work with
small amounts. But that’s not for me. That’s for you. [LAUGHTER] I’m supposed to be
doing the questioning. [LAUGHTER] You know, it’s interesting
when you said– you know, I actually had written my–
a question down about how– could you do this
again and how specific was this to the cultural
moment you were talking about, the academic– kind of just sounds like
the academic labor market– Right. –the kind of sense there
was not a sort of resource shortage, was not seen as
sort of a zero-sum kind of environment, which I often
think is actually more often perceived than real in
any kind of context, but also I think the things
that come to my mind– and I don’t know
if this has been– you know, it’s– I think it’s had mixed
elements in terms of how higher education
institutions do it, because right
now, we live at a time when colleges and universities
themselves are sort of highly contested institutions in
society about, you know, what their exact
role is in terms of for the larger social good. There’s a lot of
kind of notions, especially selective schools. I think we live in a time of
quantification and assessment. And that tends to be whether
we’re doing accreditation, et cetera, a kind of
notion of how legitimacy is determined about a course. Liberal Arts and Sciences
itself is under sort of complex sets of pressures– you know, this
notion that there’s, you know, the commitment to
Liberal Arts and Sciences, what it means to sort of just
educate people for learning for learning’s sake to educate
them to be, you know, engaging and creative citizen and
citizenship versus thinking about loans and you know,
job factors and you know, and to what extent does that
feel like in competition with this sort of Liberal
Arts and Sciences ethos? I think what I would say is is
that we’d have to do something process-wise very similar
to what happened at Tufts, which is we’d have to have a
dialogue and a conversation and bring the stakeholders– in your case, you said it
was students and faculty– bring students, faculty, staff,
some external stakeholders together, and I think
have a conversation. What are the areas
that we’re doing well? What are the areas, where
there’s opportunities and spaces that right
now– and in fact, one area I would
say that students– and I’ll stop after this– do this on their own is in
the extracurricular space. So many of our
students, I think, are often describing
to me many of their extracurricular activities
as co-curricular activities, as helping them learn
how to be on a team, as putting on a conference
in a subject area that’s very important to
them, finding ways to bring speakers
or experts in areas that are of great
interest to them, whether it’s in public health. So one of the things
that I’m thinking about is that we would need to have
a conversational space that, in fact– you know, I love
this sort of sign here, which is, like, you
know, this notion that we’re all teachers. And we’re all learners. And I think we have to
sort of really sort of see that when students are here,
we’re always in the classroom. It just takes a different form. It takes the form– it could
be on a athletic setting. It could be in the form of
a extracurricular setting. It could be a study abroad. It could be in the classroom. And I think we have to have
a more expansive nature and definition of that than
maybe our day-to-day taken for grantedness allows us to do. What about house courses? Don’t you– Yes, we do. –courses in houses. But– Wine– I know one of the houses
is offering wine tasting– [LAUGHTER] –which is very popular. [LAUGHTER] I think part of– But you could make an
academic course out of it. Yes, you can. And there are house
courses that are academic. I’m just sort of– but you
know, I think there is. I think part of it is maybe–
and I’m going to just stop here– is this notion of
professionalization that, like, to teach, it’s a kind of– there’s a kind of
professionalization and certification that’s sort
of needed in order to even see oneself as teaching. And I think that’s maybe
not a good orientation. I think the thing
that you said– they didn’t have a PhD– this
credentialism thing, I think, gets in our way about
thinking about that role. And I haven’t interrogated
that idea enough. This is a– but I think those
are some of the things that as a– in my kind of a role as a
dean of the college and as also as a faculty member
and also as– I am actually faculty dean
of one of our houses– I think there’s some
complexities around that that I would want to bring
a bunch of stakeholders around to have
this conversation. Sorry. I guess there’s also
another piece there that says we’ve already,
at least at Tufts, and I believe here
at Harvard, as well, broken down the faculty
wall by saying that we have professors of practice. Don’t you all have that? Well, you know,
that’s a little bit of movement outside
the realm already. Now, it doesn’t work for
tenure in that sense. But it does give
you an opportunity to open up the curriculum. And I think that the teacher– you have so many
different places, where people are doing great
teaching and great places, where they can talk about it. But depending on how you
can open the curriculum, I mean, any time you
open the newspaper, you realize that there are 10
topics out there that nobody’s touching along the way. I mean, anytime you
open a scientific paper, you can– oh, my God. Nobody’s talked about this. I don’t quite understand this. How do you work that out? So for me, it isn’t so
much the teaching aspect. I think that goes along with
collaboration and cooperation, et cetera. I think it’s a subject area. And the students
have great ideas– Yeah. –of what they’re missing. So if you can bring
in the student sense of, say, what is it that
I’m still missing even at a school of this size, where
there’s so much happening? They have still more ideas. I mean, I’m a pro students. Yeah. [LAUGHTER] Go ahead. Thank you. Wendy Purcell, the Harvard
Chan Public Health– it’s a brilliant segue into
my question, because it’s a– Well, that’s a brilliant place. Yeah. Well, thank you, but I’m hearing
that this space that you’ve created became an incubator. It became a way of
sensing into the future. It became a way of bringing
elements of the future in it, as you described. Can you– and you’ve
touched on a couple. But can you tell us some of
those experimental topics, that edge that you were
bringing, and how they came into the mainstream
through university? You mentioned women and– Some of it is now
quite academic. And some of it is
still on the edge. I mean, we live in
Somerville, Medford. Somerville is changing,
changing, changing, changing. When my husband and I first
came, it was Slummerville. I mean, you really
didn’t want to be there. And someone said, wait. The red line is coming. And we said, what’s
the red line? We’re from New York. So– [LAUGHTER] –what’s the red line? And all of a sudden,
the red line came. And it changed it completely. So if you can get somebody
that lives in Somerville to talk about the changes
and how it affects people– so is it urban stuff? Is it sociology? Is it health? Yeah, sure. I mean, so all that stuff
that crosses lines are there. I’m trying to think of
some of the other topics– certainly peace and war. There’s stuff that’s
there and may not be covered in the same
way that you would is it’s probably some of it. As I said, the computer stuff
started with the ExCollege. And before it went into
the traditional department, we had a mathematician
and a philosopher teach together in the
Experimental College. And then, it went off to– I think it probably went to
math first and then the computer science department so
that things have changed. I’m trying to think of
some other topics that might have been– I can’t think of
anything offhand. But give me some ideas. And I’ll –some ideas, and I’ll
tell you if we’ve done it. Once we had somebody
talk about the prisons. And if anybody’s
in sociology, that could easily fit into
a sociology department. But this person happened
to be a prisoner. He had just come out, and he
had an undergraduate degree. But his education was
inside, not outside. Well, when he taught a
course about the prisons, it was very, very different
than what it could be. And I said, we’ve had a
course taught on cancer. It was medical school
students that were teaching a course on cancer. And we said, well,
who would take it? Well, it turned
out the people that took the course were people
that were in biology, and were go on to– people that had cancer, people
who had cancer in the family, people who were dealing
with– in different ways. And the conversation
there was very different than it would be in
any one department. And they had women talking
about cancer very differently than men, as well as
books, both novels as well as texts and stuff. So it’s the way of you bringing
in all the information. But that was a
graduate student– of course, they were
in the medical school. But what made the
course so special were the people
in the classroom. And certainly we’ve had a
lot of stuff on reproduction, and that comes– again, I’m
going back to your field– of where it comes from. What was it like– you know, when you were– somebody said, were there
trans people before? Yeah, there were, but
we didn’t know about it. And we never talked about it. And now there’s a
whole other feeling. We’ve got another question here. You had mentioned
stakeholders before. And as a parent who
just put two children through very
expensive institutions I thought, am I a stakeholder? And the reason I bring
this up is that– Or a double stakeholder? –is that my son, when
he was at Johns Hopkins, took a course called Zombies. And– We’ve had that. When I first read– he told me on the
phone that one of his– oh, what course are you taking? He said, well, one
of them’s Zombies. And my first thought was,
I’m paying $5000 for you to take a course on zombies? And of course it ended up
being a very interesting course in which they looked at
literature, and culture, and the undead through history. But do you get
pushback, not just from faculty perhaps in
the original institution, but parents who
say, why am I paying this much money for my child
to take a course on whatever it is? Well, just what went
through in your family is what often goes through,
especially for new parents– I mean parents
with new students. They’re thinking about the
dollars that they’re paying, and what it looks like. And how is this
going to be a career? Or how is this going
to deal with it? The students convince them. My best story is that
in the first year program where we had lots of
students come in, somebody– and I recognized the
name because the faculty was somebody that I knew– and she came up to me
and said, my father said I can’t stay in this. And I said, so this
is the faculty– not even paying, because– [LAUGHTER] Said, that’s a waste
of your education. I said, you’ll find out
I’m willing to be here and to talk about it. And she was back in the
class the next week. So you’re right, that
is definitely a topic. And do you know–
how many courses do people take that
they’re sorry they took, or how many times you walk away
and you say, what did I learn? How am I going to use that? It’s a crapshoot. [LAUGHTER] And I think that a
next college course can be more meaningful because
of the fact of the interaction in the classroom. But we have had that lots. Great. So we have time for
one more question. Oh, no pressure. So I’m Alexandra Sedlovskaya. I’m from Harvard Business School
with Teaching and Learning Center there. And I do think that peer to peer
learning is an important topic to consider, which I think
is also important to consider simultaneously with the theme
of inclusion and diversity that we’ll be discussing
extensively as well. And I am wondering as we
think about– even what does peer to peer mean? And what does credentialing
mean, especially from the faculty perspective? To some of the
faculty, credentialing has more of an importance
than to others. For example, when I started
teaching as a doctoral student, one advice I received
is to make sure you are able to
differentiate yourself because you seem like
you’re too much of a peer. I sometimes get that
as well, even here. But how do we think
about this peer to peer learning
and this expertise, especially in your environments,
where maybe PhD is not one of the markers? So how do faculty who might
not be naturally perceived as experts– how do they do in that
kind of environment? And how does peer to peer
play out in the context? I think you just– some people
you’re not going to convince. They just think that
they’ve got the right degree and from the right school. They have the right topic. But at least at
Tufts, the curriculum within every department has
been changing continually– not like this, but
slowly but surely. When I started, Shakespeare
was a huge class in the English department. It is no longer used. There are so many
other things being offered by our own faculty. So I think that
that’s part of what helps the change and
the credentialing. It’s a difficult time to
find a full time tenure track position if that’s what
you’re looking for. And there’s no way
of saying, teach in the experimental college. On the other hand,
if you’re looking for a job in a smaller
school that isn’t just looking at prestige
and your research, but is looking at your
teaching, a course where you’ve taught
what you love, or what your
dissertation is, or what your expertise is in
the experimental college is on your resume. And it works in that way. So if that is part of it– did I answer your question? Or– Well, I was thinking also more
from the faculty perspective. So for example, when I
go into the classroom, one advice that I’ve
received is mention that you have a doctorate. Mention that you have it from
an Ivy League institution. But mention it, as a woman,
in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re actually boasting. So like– just the way
I have done now, right? I’ve told you I have all of that
without explicitly telling you I have all of that. So if, for example,
your college celebrates faculty who might not
necessarily have that, how do they do in the
classroom without having those credentials which some of
us might need more than others? We’ve had a number
of people that have gone from the experimental
college to different university programs, as well as
into our old departments. And every now and then,
somebody says, oh, hi Robyn. And I say, hi,
how are you doing? And I realize that they are
now an associate professor in the department, but they
started in the next college because they had that confidence
that says, I can teach. I have my subject
and I can go to– and having been taught. So somebody from
the faculty heard from a student, that said they
had the best class they ever had, and it should
be in our department. And that carries through. We had a woman that had a
PhD, and used to be in the– she taught sign language
in the hospital. There’s your change again– back to the hospital– sign
language in the hospital. And she taught in the
experimental college for a number of years
and was very good. And then our own students said,
why can’t that be a language? Well, why don’t you
break some barriers– sign language counting instead
of Spanish, French and Russian? So you’re breaking
all those barriers. And Tara went over
to child development. She now teaches a
four semester sequence as part of the department. And it got language
requirement, but she had to fight the
whole of the faculty. The students came up and
said, it’s a real language. Well, the question is– any of you in languages? Where’s the literature? Well, then they came up and
they found the literature. I mean, it’s a battle when
you’re breaking barriers. But that’s a good
example, and it’s being taught still in the
child development department. And that must have
been 20 years ago when it started in the ex college. Thank you very much,
Robyn, Rakesh– Dean Khurana– one of my bosses. Thank you so much for your time. We themed this
around peer learning. And everyone’s a teacher
and everyone’s a learner. And I think this panel that
really captured that feel. Thank you very
much for your time. And I think we should give
them a great round of applause. [APPLAUSE]

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