The first NIU Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship Conference launched on Tuesday, March 6. Faculty and staff, and even a few students, from across campus had an opportunity to learn from one another, engage in important dialogue and discussion, and establish new collaborations. Over 150 people participated in the conference including several individuals from institutions throughout the region. From understanding the benefits of contemplative practices to using project-based learning to engage undecided students, the schedule was packed with new ideas and inspiring practices that have tremendous benefits to the NIU student experience.
Amy Pratt, Ph.D., founding member of the National Alliance for Broader Impacts and assistant dean in the School of Education and Policy Studies at Northwestern University, provided the audience with concrete examples of the ways in which engagement can lead to broader impacts on the local, regional, national and even global community.
The end of the conference provided participants with a chance to discuss the future of engaged learning at NIU in small groups. Many participants highlighted the importance of conferences like this as a way to encourage professional dialogue, but also to better understand how faculty and staff across campus are establishing mutually beneficial relationships with community and industry partners and encouraging active learning in the classroom.
Renique Kersh, associate vice provost for engaged learning, and Rena Cotsones, associate vice president for engagement, served as co-chairs for the event. Kersh noted in her closing remarks that, “we have an opportunity moving forward to find ways that our work connects and to maintain and even enhance our commitment to actualizing our mission. In order to do that, we must consider the diversity of ways that engaged learning and engagement are practiced across campus. Not in a way that leaves us in silos, but in ways that value everyone’s contribution.” She shared this model to bring this point to life.
The conference was coordinated in collaboration with the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, Faculty Development and Instructional Design, the Experiential Learning Center in the College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Committee members included members from Student Involvement and Leadership Development, Honors, the six colleges, and Marketing and Communications. Images from the event are available on Facebook.