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Academic Learning Communities

The CFDE organizes a number of academic learning communities on a range of topics each year as well as helps organize faculty initiated explorations.

Call for Proposals- Academic Learning Communities, 2014-2015

The Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) is soliciting proposals for our academic learning community initiative. Academic Learning Communities are informal seminars that are intended to

ALC specifics:

To propose an academic learning community, please send the following to Donna Troka at by Monday, April 21.

Spring 2014


Conveners: Daniel Rochberg, Eri Saikawa, Stefanie Sarnat, Justin Remais, Jeremy Hess

The Climate@Emory Academic Learning Community seeks to foster a series of conversations about the status of climate change scholarship, teaching, and service at Emory, with the goal of enhancing Emory’s engagement in the field of climate change at multiple levels. Proposed core outcomes of this effort include

The Climate @ Emory Academic Learning Community will include a monthly series of Working Sessions throughout the semester, during which we will consider the following topics:

1. Scope and Scale of Climate @ Emory
2. Pedagogy and Student Engagement
3. Research
4. Community and Policy Relevance

Additional activities will be organized throughout the semester to complement and/or advance the Working Sessions. 

Dates: February 14, March 20, April 18 and May 9, 12:00 - 2:00 pm

For more information, please contact or any of the conveners listed above.

“Teaching International Students” Academic Learning Community (ALC)- Spring 2014

Convened by: 

Open to faculty, graduate students, and staff, this Academic Learning Community will examine the resources that are already available to international students, what resources are needed, and what are some best practices when working with international students in our classrooms. The main outcome of the ALC is to develop best practices and a training that will help faculty to better serve international students. 


The deadline for application was January 10, 2014.

Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

The Changing Landscape of Higher Education

Convener: Pamela Scully

It is clear that the landscape of higher education is changing rapidly in ways that we can identify, although the results of all this change are still hard to fathom or predict with great accuracy. Some of the changes that seem evident: the cost of a college education getting out of the reach of many students; the decline in state funding for education; the growth of online learning; the rise of For Profit colleges; the growing dominance of an idea of education as being only about competencies and predictor of employment, and yet the enduring popularity at the same time of the four year residential college model.

This Academic Learning Community on The Changing Landscape of Higher Education will meet once a month in conversation to educate ourselves about the changing contexts of higher education. The readings will be determined in part by the participants, but I thought it would be good to start with the recent book, College Unbound: The Future of College Education and What it Means for Students, by Jeffrey J. Selingo the editor at large for The Chronicle of Higher Education. I imagine a kind of salon in which different faculty lead the discussion each week. But this is not essential and people should feel comfortable participating as they wish.

The long-term goals of the ALC are to think through Emory’s place in this changing landscape as well as to help us articulate to the outside world what it is that we do best.  We are particularly interested in engaging a faculty from different schools and disciplines in this academic learning community, including faculty from the humanities, who have an important role to play in articulating the values of a liberal arts education.


  • The Seminar will meet on Thursdays from 12-1:30p.m. over the course of the 2013/14 academic year. Venues TBA.  The dates are as follows:  October 17; November 14; January 23; February 20; April 3. A light lunch will be provided.
  • Each meeting will balance presentations by the facilitator or invited speakers with group discussions of pertinent readings and presentations by members of the seminar.  
  • Suggested readings will be posted on Blackboard prior to the session, or will be made available separately.
  • A companion lecture series on topics related to the ALC is being planned in conjunction with the Senate.
  • Up to 20 participants will be accommodated.  Should space be available, faculty members may nominate a graduate student to attend the seminar.

The deadline for application was October 4, 2013.

The CFDE co-sponsored a number of academic learning communities in the 2012-2013 year.

Spring 2013

Brazil, A Growing Global Force: Beyond Soccer and Samba, convened by Dabney Evans and Uriel Kitron and co-sponsored by the Halle Institute. The eyes of the world will focus on Brazil as it hosts the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.  Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and one of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries. A Goldman Sachs report suggested that by 2050 the combined BRICS economies could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world. Brazil is investing substantial resources in academic research and in academic faculty and student (undergraduate and graduate) exchanges. For example, the Brazilian government began the “Science Without Borders” program that aims to fund travel scholarships for “100,000 Brazilian students and researchers in top universities worldwide by 2014” ( and provides funds for American scientists to lecture and research in Brazil. This opens enormous opportunities for collaborations including “sandwich” studies which are short term research exchanges funded entirely by the Brazilian government.  The goal of the seminar is to develop a 5-10 year strategic plan for Emory relationship to Brazil with special attention to the identification of strategic institutions which offer either existing or potential for two-way faculty, staff and student exchanges, joint scholarly projects and opportunities for  funding.

Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment, convened by Hiram Maxim and David Jordan. The goal of the seminar is to develop participants’ understanding of how assessment can be a meaningful and useful process for improving learning and teaching in their respective programs. Topics will include: 1) formulation of effective learning outcomes, 2) Assessment in online, hybrid, and flipped classroom formats, 3) Writing assessment (Guest lecture: Gerald Graff, Professor of English and Education at University of Illinois at Chicago), and 4) Peer assessment techniques.

View a presentation by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein on "Assessing Student Writing While Avoiding the Laundry List Trap" (iTunesU)

Offered in Fall 2012

Emory and the Future of Hispanic/Latinos in Higher Education, convened by Vialla Hartfield-Mendez and Karen Stolley and in collaboration with the Laney Graduate School and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  The goals of the seminar are 1) to come to a nuanced understanding of the very complex population that is collectively called “Latino” in the United States (see the Pew Hispanic Center report, “When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity”;, 2) to better understand the role of institutions of higher education like Emory with regard to current and future students from this population, and 3) to proactively create an institutional framework for Emory University’s research and teaching mission (at all levels and in all units) to address the realities of a nation in which people of Hispanic and Lusophone heritage make up a significant portion of the total population and in which Spanish is the de facto second language.

Online Teaching and Learning at Emory, convened by Steve Everett. The goals of the seminar are 1) discuss the dynamic discourse on online learning in higher education circulating throughout various publications like The New York TimesThe Chronicle for Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. 2) outline and evaluate the various companies (like 2U or Coursera) that work with universities to get their online education programs up and running. 3) Begin to strategize about how we would like online teaching and learning to unfold at Emory University. These conversations will help to pull together the many approaches to online learning already in practice as well as propel the discussion forward into a formal strategic plan for online teaching and learning at Emory.

Complex Networks, convened by Monica Capra and Edmund Waller is a trans-disciplinary academic forum of people at Emory, and possibly beyond, who are interested in complex networks.  Biological, physical, and social networks represent a point of interdisciplinary convergence because 1) their architectures tend to have similar properties, 2) they face similar challenges, such as questions about diffusion and robustness, and 3) they require the same methodological tools. In this proposal we provide brief applications of complex networks to economics, neuroscience, and molecular biology.