Faculty/Staff Learning Communities
The Office of the Provost at Butler University sponsors Faculty/Staff Learning Communities (FSLCs) that bring together small groups of faculty and academic staff from a variety of disciplines and units to regularly engage in dynamic discussion, reflection, and collaboration on a professional development topic of shared interest.
The goals of FSLCs are to build and strengthen the Butler academic community and its commitment to community engagement, to share resources and expertise, to encourage evidence-based decisions about our work, and to support Butler’s faculty and academic staff in their pursuit of lifelong learning and multidisciplinary collaboration.
Each FSLC will consist of up to (approcimately) 15 voluntary participants who represent at least three major areas within the academic division (i.e., colleges, libraries, academic affairs units), represent both faculty and academic staff, and represent multiple career stages (i.e., a mix of junior and more experienced members of the Butler community). Participants are expected to attend the meetings of the FSLC, to assist the facilitator in developing agendas and group goals, and to contribute meaningfully to session discussions and activities. Participants will also contribute to the “final project,” which will be assembled by the facilitator.
FSLC facilitators will be expected to schedule meetings, reserve meeting space, select readings, assignments, and topics, and organize and steer group activities and conversations. Facilitators will also coordinate and assemble the FSLC “final project.” Each FSLC can decide what their final deliverable will be. Some examples of typical ways to present to campus or to the community include:
- Deliver a Brown Bag or Food for Thought session on what your FSLC learned
- Submit a report to the Core Curriculum Committee
- Present lessons learned from your FSLC at a professional conference
- Act as a mentor to other FSLC participants and facilitators
- Host a series of conversations on your FSLC’s topic
- Present on your FSLC at the Celebration of Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL)
- Submit a manuscript for publication in an applicable journal (e.g., Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) or a proposal for presentation at a relevant conference (e.g., the Lilly Conferences on College and University Teaching and Learning)
The FSLC facilitators have three main responsibilities:
- Champion—By keeping members’ focus on the big picture while motivating participants to take the risk to change in their individual areas, the champion serves as a catalyst for academic change.
- Coordinate—Initial tasks of a coordinator would be to identify the key components of the FSLC in consultation with the Program Directors and build a framework for the year around those components and the FSLC objectives.
- Energize—By thoughtfully observing and providing feedback on both the focus and the harmony of the group, the energizer makes any necessary interventions to bring the group back to the overarching goals of the FSLC program: to enhance student learning and to build community and foster relationships across disciplines (Petrone & Ortquist-Ahrens, 65-66).
Facilitator training will be provided prior to the start of the FSLCs.
Members of each FSLC are expected to meet approximately once every three weeks for 1-2 hours, for a total of approximately 6 meetings throughout the 2018-19 academic year. Facilitators will be responsible for coordinating participants’ schedules and arranging meeting times and places.
At the conclusion of the academic year, FSLCs will be expected to submit a brief summary of the topics that the group discussed, the group’s goals, the outcomes of those goals, and any next steps that the group plans to take. They will also plan to communicate what they learned and/or to present any products they generated at a year-end activity near the end of the spring 2019 semester.
Each FSLC will have $500 to spend on books and materials, refreshments, and travel (if appropriate). Funds may be used for other purposes with the approval of the Provost and expenses over $500 should be explicitly justified. Additionally, a stipend of $750 will be available for facilitators as a sign of appreciation for the extra effort involved in leading an FSLC.
FSLC Themes for 2018-19:
Fostering Community Through Mentorship
This group will research and investigate best practices on how to implement and maintain a new faculty and staff mentorship program. The goals of such a program would be to foster a sense of community amongst university members across university departments and divisions, and to connect those new to Butler with second and third year faculty or staff members even before they arrive on campus. An added goal would be to produce a proposal for creating a mentorship program, to be implemented the following year.
Talking and Teaching About Difficult Subjects
Building on the foundation laid by previous university programs, this theme will bring faculty and staff together to discuss how we presently lead, facilitate, and engage with our colleagues and students in difficult conversations about race, class, gender/sexuality and other sensitive topics, and to learn more about doing so effectively. This theme will support the new Social Justice and Diversity graduation requirement by helping faculty better develop and teach SJD courses and helping staff address the conversations and conflicts that arise outside formal faculty-student contexts.
Thriving as a New Faculty Member
This cohort-based group is specifically for faculty members who are within their first two years of teaching at Butler. Members of this FSLC will read New Faculty: A Practical Guide for Academic Beginners (by Lucas & Murry) and will discuss topics such as institutional and departmental cultures, faculty mentoring, advising students, getting published, effective teaching strategies, instructional management, getting grants, service expectations, and legal issues.
Please note that, because of the extra time commitment involved in being part of a FSLC, applicants should discuss with their supervisors how participation would affect their workload. Faculty applicants should secure department chair and dean approval. Academic staff applicants should secure support from their immediate supervisor. The application process for 2018-19 FSLCs is currently closed. Check back on May 1 for the opportunity to join an FSLC for 2019-20!
Timeline for 2019-20 FSLCs
May 1, 2019: Topics announced and participant online application opens
September 3, 2019: FSLC Lunch & Learn
September 9, 2019: Participant applications due by 5:00 pm
September 13, 2019: Participant applicants notified
September 3-13, 2019: Facilitator training
September 23, 2019: 2019-20 FSLCs officially begin (*please note that due to the nature of some FSLC topics, timing for certain groups may not necessarily start until later in the academic year)
March 2, 2020: Online proposal for 2020-21 FSLC topics opens
April 10, 2020: Proposals for 2020-21 FSLC topics due by 5:00 pm (please note this due date for an FSLC that begins in August 2020; we are happy to consider proposals that adhere to a different timeline if it makes sense for your proposed topic)
April 27, 2020: 2020-21 FSLC topics announced and online application opens
May 8, 2020: 2019-20 FSLCs officially end
To learn more about learning communities, please visit the following links:
- Introduction to Faculty Learning Communities by Milton Cox
- Learning Communities Journal
- Special issue: Building Faculty Learning Communities; New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Spring 2004, issue 97
- Facilitating Faculty Learning Communities: A Compact Guide to Creating Change and Inspiring Community Martha C. Petrone, Leslie Ortquist-Ahrens, New Directions for Teaching & Learning, Spring 2004, issue 97.
Please address questions to the FSLC Program Co-Directors: