Previous Academic Learning Communities

Artificial Intelligence and the Ethical Dimensions of Data Science

Fall 2019


  • John Banja, Professor, School of Medicine
  • David Benkeser, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
  • Lance Waller, Professor, School of Public Health 

Data Science, Machine/Deep Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are rapidly emerging areas in research and teaching as well as ubiquitous in our daily lives.  At Emory, there are many strategic initiatives working together to propose integrated data science efforts across campus.   The interface of ethics and AI has captured attention in both research and the popular media.  Based on the unique opportunity presented within a university with a dedicated Center of Ethics as well as multiple initiatives relating Data Science at Emory, this multidisciplinary ALC will explore the unique ethical issues arising from Data Science, locally, nationally, and globally. 


The Seminars will meet from 12:00-1:30pm on the following dates:

  • Monday, September 16
  • Wednesday, October 2
  • Friday, October 18
  • Thursday, November 7
  • Thursday, November 21

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Fall 2019-Spring 2020 


  • Bree Ettinger, Mathematics, Emory College
  • Jessica Barber, Psychology, Emory College 

This ALC will introduce participants to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) across the university and begin projects of their own. We will develop a taxonomy of SoTL questions, provide examples of SoTL projects, and discuss methods for investigation. Participants will learn about collecting and analyzing different types of evidence, conducting literature searches, navigating human subjects requirements, and selecting venues for presenting or publishing their work. Participants will collaboratively select and transform a teaching problem of their own into a question for scholarly investigation. This ALC is perfect for anyone looking to strengthen their teaching portfolio and diversify their scholarship, or for those who are interested in assessing student learning, teaching effectiveness, or curricular progression. You need not have prior expertise or even familiarity with the scholarship of teaching and learning to take part in or benefit from this ALC. 


The Seminars will meet from 1:00-2:20 pm on the following Thursdays:

  • September 26
  • October 17
  • November 7
  • December 5

In addition, the seminar will meet for two Special Sessions on Monday October 7 with Prof. Mick Healey

  • 10:00-12:00 Reflections on Developing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • 1:00-3:30 Getting published: Going public with your SoTL work 

Mentoring Diverse Students in Lab Settings

Fall 2019

Resources for Mentoring Across Identities in STEM


  • Nicole Gerardo, Associate Professor, Department of Biology
  • Amanda James, Assistant Dean, Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement 

Mentoring students in research and project settings outside the classroom leads to a long-term mentoring relationship between faculty and students. Whether these students are undergraduate or graduate students, they are often part colleague, part student and part collaborator. To these collaborations, students bring their own identities and experiences, which are often not those of the faculty. While the traditional model was to apprentice all students similarly, this model may ignore that each student’s experience shapes the challenges that they will face and their expectations. Through this six-week series, we will broadly explore literature on mentoring students of diverse backgrounds and identities.


The Seminars will meet on Mondays from 12:00-1:30pm on the following dates:

  • November 4
  • November 11
  • November 18
  • November 25
  • December 2
  • December 9

2018-19 ALCs

Spring 2018 ALCs

Fall 2017 Academic Learning Communities

Data Science Research and Education at Emory University

Conveners: Lance Waller, Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Rollins School of Public Health and Vaidy Sunderam, Professor of Math and Computer Science, Emory College

Data Science is rapidly emerging as a cross cutting discipline that poses great opportunities for new scholarship as well as new courses and educational programs. It is truly cross cutting in that every discipline has come to depend on Data Science as a new paradigm, and intrinsically, evolution in Data Science is itself informed and influenced by other disciplines. Members of this Academic Learning Community will analyze and develop a notion of what Data Science can and should be distinctively at Emory, in particular, the types of Data Science scholarship we should promote and the types of degree-granting or certificate programs we should develop.

Learn more about Data Science Research and Education

Teaching and Contemplation: Nurturing the Teaching Self (Fall 2017 and Spring 2018)

Fall 2017 & Spring 2018 (year-long ALC)

Conveners: Bobbi Patterson, Professor of Pedagogy in Religion & Joonna Trapp, Senior Lecturer, English

“To be awake is to be alive” (Thoreau). 

What does it mean to be awake as a teacher? How do we keep ourselves alive, thriving, growing, curious about our various teacherly enterprises? Our decisions to enter the profession of teaching might well have been guided by passion and fascination for our fields and for learning. Perhaps it was even guided by the desire to find that “place” where our “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets” (Buechner). Yet, in spite of a deep sense of gladness in teaching and learning, and in spite of realizing the great need for quality educational work in our communities and culture, teachers report burn-out, frustration, and the need for inner renewal.

Learn more about Teaching and Contemplation

Evaluation & Implementation Sciences for Public Health

Convener: Matthew Freeman, Associate Professor of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health

Faculty in Rollins School of Public Health and throughout Emory are involved in implementation design, rigorous program evaluation, and the development and dissemination of research to improve and scale programs and support policy formation in public health. These activities encompass “Implementation Science,” a field that broadly encompasses the rigorous study of methods for documenting project and program planning, design, and roll-out; process and impact evaluation; and translation of research into practice. “Evaluation science” includes understanding the myriad methods that can be used to assess implementation effectiveness within different contexts.

Learn more about Evaluation & Implementation Sciences

Spring 2017 Academic Learning Communities

Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Based Learning (POGIL) in the Biology Classroom

Convened by Patrick Cafferty, Lecturer in Biology

For biology faculty only. This ALC is part journal club part development of POGIL activities for faculty in Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology

Religion and Public Health Collaborative on Contextual Learning 

Convened by Mimi Kiser, Assistant Professor, Global Health; Ellen Idler, Professor of Sociology; and Letitia Campbell, Assistant Program Director, Candler School of Theology

For Theology, School of Public Health, and Nursing faculty but also co-sponsored by the Laney Graduate School for its focus on strengthening interdisciplinary experiential learning for graduate students enrolled in theology, religion, public health, and nursing programs.

The Environmental Humanities: Methods, Challenges, Debates

Convened by Paul Buchholz, Assistant Professor of German Studies, and Caroline Schaumann, Associate Professor of German Studies

"We believe that the humanities have a crucial task in articulating and communicating environmental concerns to a contemporary public and that it is equally important to carefully look at depictions of local, global, and planetary environments in both past and present texts of all kinds in order to fully understand the narrative modes of current crises and evaluate their rhetoric and effectiveness.  

Learn more about The Environmental Humanities

Fall 2016 Academic Learning Communities

Blurred Boundaries: Prospects of the Human/Humanoid Engagement


Steven Kraftchick, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Candler School of Theology & Laney Graduate School

Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, School of Law


The news is filled with reports of technological breakthroughs almost on a daily basis. Self-driving cars, the internet of things, micro-sensors in almost everything we own, and soon to be part of our very bodies. Our relationship to the technologies is changing with rapidity, almost outstripping our capacities to understand these changes. In some sense, human beings are fast becoming “cyborgs” as changes in nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and genetic engineering reorient our social, physical, and mental makeup. These changes are affecting more than single individuals, they are making an impact on our society and our physical environment, raising fundamental questions about what humans are, what their relationship to the non-human might or should be, what their roles in the workplace will be, as well as how or if they should control their biological makeup and destiny.

These questions cut across disciplines raising ethical and legal questions as well as moral and physical ones. This suggests that they are best discussed by a range of people, doctors, lawyers, anthropologists, public health officials, political science and business thinkers, as well as sociologists, theologians, philosophers, and historians. But the range of input is not limited even to these disciplines. Much of our most interesting and imaginative treatment of these questions occurs through literature, film, and the arts. The goal is to surface the fundamental questions and challenges that arise from this change in the human being’s capacities to control its destiny.

The Humanities for Health


Kylie Smith, Assistant Professor, Andrew W Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing & the Humanities, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Andrew Furman, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine


This community seeks to bring together academics across Emory already working on diverse approaches to health and the humanities. The aim is to explore the use of the humanities in order to enhance approaches to human health, and to develop inter-professional collaborations in education and research, which draw on the humanities in their broadest sense. Critical theory, narrative, reflection, art, literature, history and film will all be explored to tease out new ways of thinking about the role of the humanities for understanding the illness experience, the patient–professional relationship, and posing new questions for humanistic education and research in health.

Fall 2015

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 

  • Do you love teaching?
  • Do you want to learn more about the educational research that informs and supports teaching?
  • Are you curious about ways to share your teaching innovations with other teachers?

Then these meetings are for you!

The Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) is accepting proposals for an Academic Learning Community on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (often called SoTL). This Academic Learning Community will consist of four meetings in the fall semester and will focus on the following topics:

  1. an introduction to SoTL;
  2. data & evidence in SoTL;
  3. engaging students in SoTL work; and 4) how to “go public” with your SoTL work. We will also discuss and begin research on specific content topics for SoTL workshops in Spring 2016. Some examples may be: “Engaging Students in Large Classes” or “Best Practices for Bedside Teaching in the Health Professions.” The readings in this ALC will be empirically-grounded, and are intended to generate discussion among members of the group. 

Meetings are from 1:00-2:30pm in the Jones Room in Woodruff Library on the following days:

  • Friday, September 25
  • Friday, October 9
  • Friday, October 30
  • Friday, November 13
Please direct any questions you may have to Donna Troka at:

Spring 2015

Community-Engaged Learning: Liberal Education in the Health Sciences Education at Emory

Conveners: Jenny Foster, Weihua Zhang, Erin Lepp, Vialla Hartfield-Mendez

Community engaged learning has been the subject of previous academic learning communities.  This proposal, however, is the result of a successful collaboration between faculty in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing who participated in the Faculty Fellows Program within the Center for Community Partnerships (CfCP) during the 2013-2014 year, and thus it has a specific focus in the Health Sciences.  Increasingly, health professions’ education emphasizes the value of interprofessional education (Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel, 201

  1. . Community engaged learning is one of the ways that students in the health professions can learn about themselves, their profession,  other health professions, and the communities they serve. (This includes students who aspire to the health professions as well).  As part of the Faculty Fellows Program, three faculty are currently creating a series of online videos to be used as an open access online resource to be piloted during the Fall, 2014 semester, as part of a course in the Professional Nursing introductory course.  This series of self-directed learning modules will allow faculty and students interested in participating in community-engaged learning and community-based participatory research (CBPR) to develop a shared understanding with community partners how to develop processes for evaluation of successful partnerships. These modules will serve as the basis for further exploration and discussion with the participants in the learning community.

Recent literature highlights the development of specific standards of rigor in community-based participatory research, based on the epistemological principles of social justice and co-constructed knowledge.  An initial pilot of interprofessional CBPR with the Center for Black Women’s Wellness in 2012-2013 underscored the complexity involved in interprofessional participation in community-based projects while upholding these principles. Based on the learning from this pilot, faculty will endeavor to create common readings and other learning materials to help all participants (faculty, students, and community partners) to approach community-engaged research and program projects with shared understandings and mutual goals.

Fall 2014

Building a Sustainable Farm and Food System

Conveners: Peggy Barlett, Anthropology; Amy Webb Girard, Global Health, RSPH; and Mindy Goldstein, Law

Across campus, Emory faculty and students are studying various aspects of this farm and food system. This Academic Learning Community seeks to foster a series of conversations about the status sustainable farm and food system scholarship, teaching, and service at Emory. We seek to:

  • provide a platform to share relevant scholarship and community engagement;
  • identify collaborative research and teaching opportunities, cross-unit programs, and new initiatives;
  • identify ways to build, foster, and maintain a food studies community on campus, which could include the development of a lecture series or research symposia; and
  • explore development of a university-wide, team-taught course on Food, Environment, and Health.

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

  • Near-term outcomes that will assist Emory’s teaching, research, scholarship, and student and community engagement on climate change (e.g., Climate@Emory website, catalog of current course offerings, new research projects or grant proposals, etc.).
  • Strategic analysis, discussion, and recommendations of mid- and long-term steps that the Emory community or members thereof might consider for further shaping the Emory climate change community, including collaborative research and teaching opportunities and cross-unit programs and initiatives.

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: 

  • Stacy Bell, Senior Lecturer in English and Director of Multilingual Writing, Oxford, Oxford College 
  • Benjamin Hary, Professor of Hebrew, Arabic and Linguistics and Director of the Program in Linguistics, Emory College 

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 Seminar will meet from 12-1:30 pm on the following dates:  February 4, February 25, March 25, and April 29.  A light lunch will be provided.
  • Each meeting will balance presentations by the facilitator/s 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.
  • 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 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.

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 Times, The 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.