More than 30 faculty members and administrators from across campus participated in the 30th Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium held virtually Aug. 7 and 10.
During the two-day “Teaching and Learning in the Connected Environment: Bringing the Best Forward” symposium, attendees reflected on their recent teaching experiences and shared tips and wish lists since the pivot to online instruction in March.
Josef Broder, symposium planning committee chair and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, welcomed participants and invited them to focus on the future of teaching and learning. He noted that past symposia recommendations led to substantive initiatives, including the development of the Offices of Service-Learning, Experiential Learning and Faculty Affairs and the passage of the Joint Resolution on Academic Excellence.
José Antonio Bowen, author on higher education innovation and senior fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, delivered the keynote address, “The New Nimble,” that focused on a reimagined three R’s of education: relationships, resilience and reflection.
Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav responded to questions from the faculty and provided more details on the events of the spring when instructors around campus moved 4,500 courses with 11,000 sections online in two weeks.
The faculty collaborated in four breakout groups focused on undergraduate instruction (in and out of the classroom); graduate students as learners and as current and future educators; faculty support, resources and professional development; and instructional technology and classroom design.
Meg Mittelstadt, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning; Laura Crawley, assistant vice president and director of Gwinnett Campus; Ruth Poproski, associate director for teaching and learning (CTL); and Alice Hunt, assistant director for instructional development (CTL), facilitated the four groups respectively.
The working groups prepared and presented short- and long-term recommended actions that the university could sustain or initiate to actualize the lessons learned since the spring semester.
Major cross-cutting themes emerged around supporting community wellness; bolstering instructional design, affordable learning and technology support; recognizing and encouraging classroom innovation; facilitating wider promotion of faculty activities; and engaging in holistic assessments of career preparation and professional job markets.
After the presentations, Provost S. Jack Hu cited ways UGA responded to the challenges of the spring and summer. He emphasized the university’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion as well as expanding support for enhanced student learning experiences and opportunities.
President Jere W. Morehead closed the program by thanking the faculty for responsively altering the ways in which they teach, serve and conduct research in order to reach students and the community during challenging times. He acknowledged that faculty members continue to innovate for our students, and our community continues to make a positive difference. He highlighted two new groups: the Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community and the Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.
This annual symposium, which typically takes place in the spring, was delayed by the changes to instruction delivery and general campus life in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the overarching purpose and format remained the same.
The symposium received support from the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost and PricewaterhouseCoopers.