Center for Faculty Development
Programs and Events

Faculty Learning Communities


    During the 2013-14 academic year, the Center for Faculty Development offered three Faculty Learning Communities, each around a book.

    The first two were launched during fall quarter and continue into winter. The third began in winter quarter and continued into the spring.
    The first – on Ambrose et al.’s How Learning Works – was for faculty who want a better understanding of their students’ learning so that they can make smarter decisions in their own courses.

    The second – on Rabiner and Fortunato’s Thinking Like Your Editor – was for faculty interested in writing nonfiction for a broad audience.

    Meanwhile the third – on Stone et al.'s Difficult Conversations – was for faculty who want to learn how to communicate effectively in difficult situations, following a carefully structured process.

    What is a Faculty Learning Community?

    A faculty learning community is a group of cross-disciplinary faculty (usually 6–12 people) engaging in an active, collaborative program that meets regularly to support the enhancement of one’s teaching or scholarship (definition adapted from Miami University, OH). Participants in the learning community each pick a focus project and agree to apply the ideas, try out innovations, and report back to the group on what they have learned.

    The Center for Faculty Development provides you with a copy of the book, refreshments, and a designated “host” for your learning community. At each gathering, you’ll discuss key insights from the assigned reading, the progress you’re making on your own project, and questions that are surfacing for you.

    Who can join?

    Any Seattle University faculty member, part-time or full-time, can participate in the program.


    Faculty Learning Community #3: Difficult Conversations

    Are you interested in learning how to communicate effectively in difficult situations, but are not sure where to begin? Difficult Conversations, written by members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, provides a step-by-step approach for how to have your toughest conversations with less stress and more success. In this four-session Learning Community over winter and spring, you'll work your way through the principles in the book so that you feel better prepared to engage in important conversations on tricky topics, be they with a colleague, a relative, or a friend.

    If demand is high, then we will set up a separate group that will specifically focus on “difficult conversations around diversity.”

    3a. What's in it for you?

    Over the four sessions, you'll learn how to:

    • Decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation
    • Interpret the significance of what is said — and what is not
    • Raise tough issues without triggering defensiveness
    • Manage strong emotions — yours and the other party's
    • Stay balanced regardless of how the other party responds

    3b. Who is it suited to?

    This community is for any faculty member who would like to be better prepared for awkward conversations and wants to take a more measured and research-driven approach to broaching the topic. Ideally, you will have a future conversation in mind that you can consider as you work through the book with your learning community of up to 12 people. You may choose to share your topic with the group, but we won't require that of you.

    3c. Dates, times, and registration

    Wed, Jan 22 | 2:15-3:30 | Casey 517
    Wed, Feb 19 | 2:15-3:30 | Casey 516
    Wed, Apr 9 | 2:15-3:30 | Casey 516
    Wed, May 7 | 2:15-3:30 | Casey 500

    Twelve places* are available for this community on a first come, first served basis.

    * Due to interest, a second group focused on "difficult conversations around diversity," was formed and also met four times over winter and spring quarter.

    Please REGISTER for your place HERE

    FQ 13 Faculty Learning Community 2

    Faculty Learning Community #2: Thinking Like Your Editor

    Would you like to write a book about your area of expertise for a broad audience, but you’re not sure where to begin? In this five-session series over Fall and Winter Quarters, you’ll learn some of the trade secrets for writing a successful nonfiction book. We’ll be reading and discussing Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction – and Get It Published, recommended by editors at Harvard University Press, Oxford University Press, and HarperCollins, to name just a few. We won’t be talking about how to write a book for the dozen specialists in your field, but how to write a book that’s sold at regular bookstores and reaches 1,000 or more people a year. Whether you’re already outlining chapters or you’re just toying with the glimmer of a book idea, this faculty learning community can take your thinking and writing where you most need them to go.

    2a. What's in it for you?

    Over the course of this 6-part series, you’ll

    • set goals for what you want to achieve by the end of Fall and Winter quarters,
    • learn insights about the book publishing business,
    • work on questions that can help you narrow or broaden (whichever you need more) your thinking on your book,
    • analyze a successful book proposal, 
    • have the support of colleagues who are facing similar issues, and
    • make progress on achieving your book writing goals.

    2b. Who is this suited to?

     You can be at the early thinking stages of your book idea or you can already be writing chapters. We do ask, however, that you come with the intent to work on a nonfiction book project for a broad audience, rather than a niche book for a select group of like-minded specialists or a journal article. We’ll be able to provide the best support for one another if we’re facing similar challenges.

    2c. Dates, times, and registration

    Tue, Oct 15 | 10:30-11:30 | Casey 516
    Tue, Nov 12 | 10:30-11:30 | Casey 517
    Tue, Dec 3 | 10:30-11:30 | Casey 517 
    Thu, Jan 23 | 1:30-3:00  | Casey 200
    Tue, Feb 13 | 1:30-3:00  | Casey 200
    Tue, Mar 13 | 1:30-3:00  | Casey 200

    Twelve places are available for this community on a first come, first served basis. If more people apply, we will keep a wait-list.

    FQ 13 Faculty Learning Community 1

    Faculty Learning Community #1: How Learning Works

    Are you interested in finding out more about your students’ learning and adjusting your own courses as a result? How Learning Works, written by faculty developers from Carnegie Mellon University, is grounded in evidence from cognitive sciences, education, and psychology, and presents seven key principles that we can use to underpin the design of our courses. Covering such topics as mastery, prior knowledge, motivation, and classroom climate, this book has gained an international reputation for its clarity, rigor, and practicality. Over five sessions in Fall and Winter, we’ll be able to increase our understanding of learning, plan concrete changes for our classes, and discuss the results of these changes with an interdisciplinary group of peers.

    1a. What's in it for you?

    Over the course of this 5-part series, you’ll

    • set regular goals to try out new ideas in your current courses,
    • learn insights from the book and other group members,
    • provide one another feedback on your course experiments and adjustments,
    • have the support of colleagues who are facing similar issues, and
    • gain confidence in your ability to make well-informed decisions to aid your students’ learning.

    1b. Who is this suited to?

    This community is for any faculty member who would like to take a more research-based approach to teaching. Ideally, you would be teaching in both Fall and Winter so that you can put new ideas into use immediately and are therefore better able to contribute to group discussion and reflection. This will give everyone greater insight into the variability of teaching contexts and norms, and can lead to a deeper appreciation of disciplinary nuances in higher education.

    1c. Dates, times, and registration

    Thu, Oct 17 | 2:00–3:00 | Casey 517
    Thu, Nov 21 | 2:00–3:00 | Hunthausen 150
    Thu, Jan 16 | 2:00–3:00 | Casey 517
    Thu, Feb 6 | 2:00–3:00 | Casey 517
    Thu, Mar 6 | 2:00–3:00 | Casey 400

    Twelve places are available for this community on a first come, first served basis. If more people apply, we will keep a wait-list.