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2020 Summer Faculty Development Institute

Make Next Year Special: Think Outside of the Box

The application cycle for the 2020 Summer Faculty Development Institute is now open.

Union College has renewed its annual summer Faculty Development Institute (FDI) program in order to help as many faculty as possible prepare and evolve their teaching practice if remote teaching continues in some way, shape, or form next academic year. This thinking drives the FDI theme "Make Next Year Special: Think Outside of the Box," where we are asking faculty to think creatively in order to imagine “multiple tomorrows” for Academic Year 2020-21.

Sign-ups for the Summer 2020 FDI: Track 1 closed June 17, 2020

Applications for the Summer 2020 FDI: Track 2 Incubator closed May 31, 2020

Presented below are more details about the two tracks in which faculty can engage with the summer program.

Track 1: All interested faculty

You are an instructional designer, so add that to your (already large) job description. Most professors begin teaching without any formal training in curriculum development, the science of how people learn, or the science of how to teach for how people learn, also called pedagogy. Even K–12 teachers are rarely taught curriculum development; they take one course, if that, in their teacher prep programs which include undergrad and grad.

Track 1 invites faculty to participate in a self-paced and interactive course where you’ll explore content from the learning sciences about the best practices of teaching and learning design. The course is designed to be completed over a 2-week period, roughly 2 hours a day. There are four modules and a final project, with new modules released every two days. Track 1 is self-paced, so you may opt in as much or as little as you choose. Due to the online format, all interested faculty may participate; large numbers will be managed through creating cohorts.

The core online curriculum is supplemented by a series of online, live workshops faculty can pick and choose from that best suit their interests and needs. Sample workshops include:

  • Designing Outdoor Activities and Assignments
  • Peer Learning
  • Making Groupwork Work
  • Collaborative Reading with Perusall
  • Active/Experiential Learning
  • Promoting Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Resilience
  • Reacting to the Past (game/simulation curricula from Barnard)
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Teaching in Online Environments

Any faculty member who signs up for Track 1 can participate. Faculty who complete the four modules and develop a course revision plan will receive a book tailored towards his/her instructional needs/interests. Note, faculty who participate in Track 1 do not receive an iPad technology stipend for participation. Only faculty selected for the Track 2 FDI Incubator receive a technology stipend (more details below).

Sign-ups for the Summer 2020 FDI: Track 1 closed June 17, 2020

Track 2 Incubator: 10 faculty members, selected through application

Would you like to rework an existing course you teach or develop a new one to support a goal to "Make Next Year Special?" If so, apply to be part of the FDI Summer Incubator where you'll work in a studio environment with your colleagues to rapidly prototype your course along with consultations from instructional designers, instructional technologists as well as consultations to help with writing instruction, digital scholarship, library use, and making. The incubator will take place June 19–July 2, with 1–2 hours of Zoom meetings each work day (presenting work, providing feedback to others, 1:1 consultations). These meetings will be scheduled based on each participant's availability each day.

Whether students will be on campus in the fall or not, “special courses” will have an energizing appeal for students and parents, and any course developed in the incubator can be taught face-to-face, online, or blended, as good instructional design transcends delivery format. Faculty in Track 2 have the option to participate in Track 1 as outlined above as they like, but it is not required. Courses developed in the incubator will benefit from:

  • Using a design thinking process to rapidly prototype the curriculum
  • Studio methodology where faculty frequently present and critique each other’s work
  • Many consultations for creative and collaborative brainstorming
  • Technology integration support from ITS
  • Facilitation and Instructional design coaching

Faculty can submit proposals for redesigning or developing new courses to occur any term in the 2020-21 Academic Year. Ten faculty will be selected for Track 2 and will receive a technology stipend for a new 128 GB 11" iPad Pro, Apple Pencil (Gen 2), and keyboard case.

Applications for the Summer 2020 FDI: Track 2 Incubator closed May 31, 2020

Developing an NY6 Community of Practice

If ever there was a time to connect with thought partners, this is it—there is no doubt our ideas get better when we collaborate with others. Therefore, for the first time, we are inviting faculty from all NY6 schools to participate in Union College’s FDI Track 1 as outlined above.

Rich discussion between faculty across the schools will occur through 3rd party, online learning technologies such as Perusall. In addition, within the current NY6 Slack workspace, a general “teaching excellence” channel is being set up for faculty to connect and ask each other questions. Additional, discipline specific channels, and potentially others (e.g., scholarly writing) can be set up upon request. If you have an idea for a specific channel you'd like to see created, please indicate it in your application.

Talks + Quotes from Past FDI Participants


8×8: Leaps of Faith: 8 Stories about Cultivating Complex Thinkers for a Messy World


“I highly recommend the FDI to colleagues who are interested in learning about and discussing innovative teaching strategies at the intersections of technology and pedagogy. If only one could participate every year!” Kristin Bidoshi, Associate Professor of Russian

"The FDI gave me a good opportunity to reevaluate some of the courses I taught this year, as well as envisioning my plans for new courses next year. Much of the content was versatile and had a place somewhere in my curriculum." Joel Lefever, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

“Sessions provided a great opportunity to recharge and refresh my teaching strategies.” Tim Olsen, Associate Professor of Music

"The FDI was a very supportive environment pulling together teachers that want to improve the student experience. The facilitators provided a fantastic list of curated references and engaged faculty in the teaching techniques there were highlighting through activities. A must for any Union faculty!" Holli Frey, Professor of Geology

"Don't think about teaching even a single course without attending the FDI.", Younghwan Song, Professor of Economics

"Opened my mind and made me realize that there are strategies available to any problem experienced while teaching. Provided me wonderful resources to help kickstart my teaching career." Pradeep Gudlur, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

“However you teach now, the FDI will open your eyes to teaching ideas that are probably new to you.” Doug Klein, Professor of Economics

“The thing I love most about being an educator is the constant challenge to engage students who come into a class with such varied skills and background knowledge. After this workshop, I feel more confident about trying new techniques and technology to (hopefully) inspire more of my students to push themselves, take risks and think creatively.” Barbara Danowski, Professor of Biology

“It made me think about teaching in new ways.” Helen Hanson, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

“If you are in a pedagogical rut, or looking to take a new direction with your courses, the readings and workshop discussions in FDI offer excellent ways to shake up your routine and develop alternate ways of thinking about the elements of teaching and student learning.” Kara Doyle, Associate Professor of English

“The program is full of helpful suggestions and examples for how any teacher at Union College might improve and enrich their teaching.” Mark Walker, Professor of History

“High-impact, high-quality teaching practices that will make your courses the most sought-after on campus.” Megan Ferry, Associate Professor of Chinese and Asian Studies

"It was such an amazing experience taking this program with all faculties (juniors and seniors together, sharing experiences etc.) and I saw that implementing teaching technologies to your courses can easily increase your performance and efficiency." Funda Dogruer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

"The opportunity to share ideas with other faculty is really a big draw, but this needs to be framed in something active and structured like the FDI. This is not the faculty lunch, but something more." Jennifer Matsue, Professor of Music

"I appreciated hearing more about the student learning experience during the program. I found that my assumptions as to why students may not be learning were incomplete, and learned potential approaches to increase student comprehension of the course material." Rebecca Cortez, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of Engineering

“The FDI is about collaboration. It’s an opportunity for individual faculty members to think through their teaching as part of a well informed, experienced, and supportive group of like-minded teachers.” Joe Johnson, Director of Writing Programs

“FDI helped me re-evaluate some of the long held assumptions I had about course and lesson planning; but, most importantly, it renewed my commitment to seeking change where change is positively meaningful for a more engaging, more purposeful educational experience for me as well as for the students.” Daniel Mosquera, Associate Professor of Spanish

"With its friendly, receptive environment, the FDI program allowed me to revisit some of the most crucial issues in teaching from a refreshing perspective, in a dialogue with others, and with questions and ideas well supported on a solid repertoire of ideas, research, and technologies." Guillermina Seri, Associate Professor of Political Science

"Teaching is a practice, Stacie and Denise guide you through hands-on techniques to take charge of your teaching experience." Marianna Bergamaschi, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

“A transformative experience for novice and expert instructors who care about teaching and learning.” Maritza Osuna, Senior Lecturer of Spanish

“Beyond providing excellent practices and learning technologies, the workshop creates a community of shared support for reflecting on your current approach and trying new ideas.” Melinda Goldner, Professor of Sociology

“I anticipate that what I’ve learned about pedagogy will be helpful in my future courses. I found the presentations and our reading motivating, especially for revamping my syllabi and adopting other ways to give feedback on student writing.” Andrea Foroughi, Associate Professor of History

"After a very long term of teaching, the FDI was a really well-timed means of (re)igniting my excitement about what I teach and how I teach it. Working with Denise and Stacie—as well as colleagues across departments and disciplines—was engaging, fun, and super generative." Jennifer Mitchell, Assistant Professor of English

“I found the opportunity to think and talk about pedagogy with fellow professors really stimulating. The organization of the FDI was highly conducive to this.” David Cotter, Professor of Sociology

“Lots of ideas! Helped me identify small, easily implemented changes to help me engage student even more. Will keep me and my students from getting bored!” Joanne Kehlbeck, Associate Professor of Chemistry

“I think this is very useful time invested for faculty at any stage in their career.” Michele Angrist, Professor of Political Science, Dean of Studies

“It’s very helpful to get together with faculty from other departments to discuss how we can improve our teaching. We get so few opportunities to reflect on what we are trying to accomplish in the classroom and how we might better engage our students.” Carol Weisse, Professor of Psychology