Teaching and Curriculum

Student diversity enriches the intellectual community on campus and potentially contributes to a culture of high achievement. When all students are genuinely engaged with faculty and staff in fruitful academic work, the overall climate of achievement becomes palpable and self-sustaining. To reach their greatest potential students must be challenged, led, and inspired. Full engagement with inspiring role-models is likely the single most important factor in instilling a climate of achievement. This is particularly true for students of color, for whom there have historically been fewer such models. A curriculum rich in the representation of various backgrounds with content that is thorough and accurate, acknowledging diverse contributions and perspectives is essential, but so to the delivery must concern itself with a diversity of learning styles while challenging dynamics of power and privilege in the classroom.

Director of Academic Development

(2006-2007) The Office of Academic Development, in partnership with the Office of the President, presented the "Known Way, Safe Passage Series", aimed at sharing with students the personal narratives on academic achievement and success of exemplary role models from our faculty, staff and community leaders.

(2007-2008) Plans are underway for a "Difficult Dialogues" series hosted by the Office of Academic Development to include the use of roundtables, guest lectures, and "welcome table" conversations to help students practice talking about/across religious differences on a secular humanist campus.

(Spring 2007) Recommendations from the Director of Academic Development include a push for each Academic Department to host open houses and teas that expressly target ALANA students - meeting them in their cultural houses and through their cultural organizations - bringing the students into more direct contact with an increased number of Faculty. The Director also envisions the development of a center for teaching and learning services at Mount Holyoke that would help to lead the way in identifying ways in which elite, predominately white, Liberal Arts Colleges can better serve the needs of students from non-traditional backgrounds.

Workshops and Seminars for Faculty

(March 2004) Faculty Workshop on Ensuring an Effective Learning Environement for All Students presented by Josh Aronson (NYU) and Goeff Cohen (Yale)

(Spring 2005) Summer 2004 study group evolved into a Faculty Seminar on Race and Pedagogy, sponsored by the new Office of Academic Development.

(June 2007) Faculty Development Seminar "Course Design & Learner-centered Teaching Workshop"

(Spring 2007) Ongoing Series of Faculty Workshops (one per semester) co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Development and the Weissman Center.

(Spring 2007) Workshops for new department chairs run by the Dean of Faculty.

Public Lectures, Symposia, and Panels on Pedagogy & Curriculum with respect to Diversity & Inclusiveness

(September 2004) Faculty workshop, student seminar, and major public lecture by Claude Steele on “Stereotype Threat.”

(2005) A series of three lectures and panels offered by the history department entitled “What Difference Does History Make? Understanding Race in Comparative Contexts.”

(2005) The Weissman Center for Leadership & The Liberal Arts has offered regular lectures on pedagogy for faculty, coupled with an examination of how to move to smaller classes.

(Oct. 1, 2007) The Dean of the Student office and MCCL co-sponsored the Anti-racism activist, Tim Wise, presenting on "The Pathology of Privilege: Racism, White Denial, and the Costs of Inequality".

(Oct. 19, 2007) Contemporary Women's Rights in Iran: Human rights activist, attorney, and educator Mehrangiz Kar delivered the first lecture in the Weissman Center's 2007-2008 series, Bearing Witness, Thursday, October 18.

(May 2008) Mount Holyoke will host the CHAS Faculty Symposium on Teaching and Pedagogy in the Humanities. The CHAS Symposium for Faculty in the Sciences was successfully hosted here in 2005.

Multicultural Course Requirement

(Spring 2007) In response to community feedback the MCCL has requested that the APC begin to review the current Multicultural Course Requirement to examine its effectiveness, and the accuracy of its fulfillment of the intended mission. MCCL recommendations will be submitted to the APC.

Encouraging students in the sciences

(Fall 2006) The science faculty have piloted a combined introduction to chemistry and biology, and they intend to teach the course again in the coming year. The course, which explores the intertwining of biology and chemistry in living systems, is team-taught and includes a lab component combining methods from both disciplines. The class is roughly half the size of a traditional introductory science lecture. In addition to this course, there are also small seminar alternatives to the large introductory biology course.

Science faculty have also piloted a cascading mentorship program enabling students of color with science interests to do laboratory research and become acquainted with mentors during the summer before their first year at Mount Holyoke.

See also Peer-Led Undergraduate Mentoring System (PLUMS) in Mentoring & Advising.