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 (approximately) 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
- 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 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 2020-21:
All faculty (full-time or part-time) and staff are welcome to join any of the FSLCs listed.
Universal Design for Teaching and Learning
Through this FSLC, participants will consider the application of universal design principles in student interactions at Butler. Universal design for learning (UDL) allows for flexibility in learner engagement with a focus in three primary areas: how the material is represented, how students engage with the material, and what form of action and expression will meet the competency. This theme could also include UDL related topics such as accessibility, inclusivity, learning theory, instructional theory, and instructional design. The goal of this FSLC is to create a space to share where UDL is already being applied, identify new opportunities, and consider if there are advantages to applying UDL to foster inclusivity, support flexible delivery, and/or increase engagement in our community.
Junior Faculty Accountability Meetup (JFAM!)
This FSLC will consist of a cross-disciplinary group of junior faculty that extends across campus and is open to those beyond their first year, aiming to establish longer-term connections among newer faculty, spark discussions about research topics and possible collaborations, enable sharing of expertise, and create an environment in which to brainstorm ideas and work through challenges free from any type of evaluative structure. This FSLC's goal is to help early career faculty both feel more supported and achieve greater tangible success as they grow their bodies of work.
Presumed Incompetent 2 - A Book Reading and Dialogue
Participants in this FSLC will read the book, Presumed Incompetent 2, a new volume that follows up on the first volume of essays and provides more perspectives of women of color who are mid-career in the academy. This group will read essays in this second volume together, and discuss and consider how to address these struggles on our own campus. This is a critical conversation to have across disciplinary constraints, especially at this time where our university, among others, is continuing to strive to become a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment.
Incorporating Sustainability into Butler Life and Curriculum
Participants in this FSLC will conceptualize the holistic lens of sustainability and analyze preconceived notions of the term and how mainstream society is ‘greenwashing’ sustainability by using the term incorrectly. Using this new understanding, we will discuss how sustainability can be incorporated into classes across disciplines through experimental learning, place-based education, and campus and/or community engagement. Participants will hear about sustainability initiatives on Butler’s campus and in the community while learning about opportunities to engage students with Butler staff and/or community partners to address real world sustainability challenges.
The 2020-21 FSLC participation application can be found by clicking here.
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.
Timeline for FSLCs
February 28, 2020: Online proposal for 2020–21 FSLC topics opens.
May 8, 2020: 2019–20 FSLCs officially end
May 15, 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)
Tentative timeline for 2020-21 academic year FSLC events:
October 2020 date TBD: Facilitator training
October 2, 2020, 1:00-2:00 p.m.: FSLC Information session
October 16, 2020: Participant applications due by 5:00 PM
October 23, 2020: Participant applicants notified
October 30, 2020: 2020–21 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 1, 2021: Online proposal for 2021–22 FSLC topics opens
April 9, 2021: Proposals for 2021–22 FSLC topics due by 5:00 PM (please note this due date for an FSLC that begins in August 2021; we are happy to consider proposals that adhere to a different timeline if it makes sense for your proposed topic)
April 26, 2021: 2021–22 FSLC topics announced and online application opens
May 7, 2021: 2020–21 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: