FAS Discusses Global Teaching

A panel takes a worldly angle on the FAS teaching and learning initative

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences met Friday in the second symposium to discuss the school’s initiatives on teaching and learning, which FAS Dean Michael D. Smith has identified as a lead priority in a Faculty Meeting at the start of the academic year.

The panel discussion was led by Department Chair of Sanskrit and Indian studies Diana L. Eck, East Asian Languages and Civilization Professor Peter K. Bol, and Professor of African and African American Studies Caroline N. Elkins. Each discussed his or her approach to providing a greater global angle into their course curricula.

“I choose the angle of images that represent India,” Eck said, detailing how she uses powerful images of practicing Hindus and striking Hindu imagery to motivate her classroom discussions on the religion.

She added that her class has benefited from a greater number of students of Indian origin—who have contributed a more personal element to the discourse.

“That dynamic has changed things very dramatically—in a very pleasant way,” she said.


Bol, a non-native speaker of Chinese, discussed the unique dynamic he experienced when teaching Chinese history to a Chinese student—in English.

“And he said to me, ‘You really surprised me—I didn’t know that you could teach Chinese history not in Chinese,’” Bol said with a light laugh.

Bol added that symposia like this one help unite the message of the important relationship between research and pedagogy.

“Without researching—and that curiosity—you can’t have teaching and learning,” Bol said.

Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds will host the third symposium on integrating collections into the classroom on April 1.

The teaching and learning program, which aims to improve the school’s policies on education, was established after a task force identified improving teaching and learning as a priority in a 2007 report.

“To renew its commmitment to excellence, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences must motivate and empower committed teachers as well as distinguished researchers, and actively encourage intelligent pedagogy as well as pathbreaking research,” the report said.

Smith has adopted the initiative as a top priority for the school since his appointment as FAS dean in July 2007. But department chairs have said in the past that the economic crisis and the school’s resulting $220 million deficit has hindered progress on the project.

The first symposium, held on February 11, concentrated on active learning, according to Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Allan M. Brandt.

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.


The Mar. 28 article "FAS Discusses Global Teaching" misstated the name and date of the first teaching panel. It was held on Feb. 11 and discussed "active learning."


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