Dominican Higher Education Colloquium 2018




 Concurrent Session III


A.  “Giving Voice to Disability and Inclusivity:  Research Findings and Ministerial Insights on Inclusion of Students with Disabilities”
           Karen Stalnaker and Rebecca Murray, Ph.D., Barry University

Please note:  Session A has been cancelled – If you have signed up for this session, you may change your session online with your registration link.

B.   “Integrating the Four Pillars of Dominican Higher Education into a Living-Learning Community”
            Charles Zola, Ph.D., Mount Saint Mary College

 This presentation examines how the values of Dominican higher education can be incorporated into and constitutive of a living-learning community. It will also illustrate how a Dominican inspired learning community provides an enriched educational experience that results in many positive outcomes.

In 2008 the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) reported research on highly effective practices that ameliorate the educational experience of college students. These practices are called High Impact Practices (H.I.P.s), and they have been proven effective in elevating students’ academic performance as well as student retention. Subsequently, in 2012, the Dominican Higher Education Council published A Vision in the Service of Truth that highlights the values and goals of Dominican higher education.

As part of strategic efforts to integrate the four pillars of Dominican education into the intellectual and spiritual lives of students, the Catholic and Dominican Institute of Mount Saint Mary College established the Dominican Scholars of Hope program in the fall semester 2016. The program was envisioned as a hybrid of both the H.I.P.s as proposed by AAC&U, and the values promoted in A Vision in the Service of Truth. This presentation will discuss this process—both advances and setbacks—and the positive impact it had for campus culture and college life.

      “Exploring Contemplative Pedagogy in Online Discussion Forums (Through the Lens of Dominican Higher Education)”
           Kristen Dellasala, M.A., Mount Saint Mary College

 In this presentation/workshop, we will explore online education and technology, how it may afford opportunities for deep listening, reflection and other forms of contemplation that the in-person classroom cannot achieve — because of time limitations and other considerations. Specifically, we will look at online asynchronous discussion forums as a space and place for contemplative pedagogy in its many forms (text, audio, and video). We will also explore foundational aspects of Dominican higher education, and its emphasis on contemplation and study.

C.  “Co-Teaching Philosophy with Undergraduate Students:  A Dominican Heritage of Inclusion, Diversity and Shared Progress Toward Truth”
           Peter Costello, Noah Gemma, Jillian Zelensky, and Kai Burton, Providence College

In this paper, I share the description, purpose, and outcome of co-teaching an upper-level Phenomenology course as well as a lower-level Introduction to Philosophy course with undergraduates.  This paper will be co-written with my undergraduate co-teachers, who have each written a reflection, in terms of course texts, on our shared project.  The point of the paper will be to communicate a way to bring about goals of diversity, inclusion, and academic rigor outside the usual paradigm of the professor in an ivory tower speaking to students who sit well beneath him or her.

Toward this end, in addition to the texts that the undergraduates reflect on, I will include reflections on teaching, empathy, and truth from Aquinas, Las Casas, and Edith Stein, and the Bible.  The goal of using these texts is to ground our account (which is also an argument for how Dominican education should proceed) in a tradition of shared reflection.  And to allow for questions and comments (even arguments) from those same texts to posit challenges or supports to the paper.

If the undergraduate students are available in June, I will ask them to attend and to help in the delivery of the presentation.  As this is the third year I am engaging with undergraduates in this co-teaching, and as I have had a number of students co-present with me at the St. Nicholas of Myra conference, I believe with some evidence that having them there at the conference will be of great benefit.

      “The Evolution of Teaching Biology:  An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Evolutionary Biology”
           Giovanna Czander, Ellen Dolgin and Bernadette Connors, Dominican College

 A Biology professor, an English professor, and a Religion professor walk into a classroom…. Thus begins an innovative, interdisciplinary, team-taught Biology course on Evolution at Dominican College of Blauvelt. Evolution is a required course in the Biology program for students pursuing a BS degree.  This course is an introductory course in the study of the evolutionary process.  Many fields of Biology use the concepts of evolution to explain processes and development of both individual organisms and entire species. Our decision to offer this course as interdisciplinary grew out of our decision to keep the Arts and Sciences Division intact rather than divide into two separate entities: one for humanities and one for mathematics and sciences.  The Evolution course run by Dr. Bernadette Connors already had included guest lectures from other disciplines, which she and her biology students found illuminating. We decided to build on those experiences.

Applying pedagogical principles derived from the Dominican values of pursuit of the truth and of integration of study and contemplation, the course, the three professors determined how to mount this course.  Born from a formal collaboration between the English, Religious Studies, and Biology programs, it is a discussion-based interdisciplinary course that aims to inform Biology majors about the interconnectedness between liberal arts courses perhaps taken as Gen Ed requirements and those taken within the sciences.

The course ran in Fall, 2017. In the first part of the course, we examine evolution from molecular, ecological, and population standpoints, covering Darwinian Theory, population and quantitative genetics, speciation and adaptation, molecular models of evolution, phylogeny and determination of evolutionary relationships, human evolution and the origins of life, and sexual selection.  In the second part of the course, we explore the relationships between religion and science, faith and reason, biblical and other ancient cultures’ creation stories/myths, as well as the philosophical and theological implications of the Darwinian Theory. The third section of the course focuses on brief readings from the literature, journalism, and popular culture in Victorian and Edwardian periods (19th-early 20th centuries).  It revolves around the cultural assumptions of the era, with emphasis on income, ethnic and gender limitations, and how these lead to the advent of “Social Darwinism.”

The future of education may lie in interdisciplinary, liberal-arts based, collaborative educational opportunities. If so, the experience of teaching and taking this course can offer a valuable contribution to possible approaches to other disciplines and institutions. In this panel session, faculty members and students who participated in the course will discuss the challenges in teaching and taking a course of this sort, and reflect on the relative success of the novel pedagogical approaches taken and consider how we would revise it going forward so students can grasp the inextricable links among these disciplines from the “seven liberal arts” tradition and experience the shared pursuit of truth.

D.  “Friar4 – Developing and Using Learning Outcomes to Guide Our Work”
            Kristine Goodwin and Patti Goff, Providence College

Providence College’s vice president for student affairs and the assistant vice president for integrated learning will describe how they facilitated a campus wide conversation about learning outcomes and ultimately created the Friar4 Foundational Pillars.  The Friar4—(1) Human Flourishing; (2) Contemplation and Communication; (3) Cultural Agility; and (4) Integrated Learning—summarize the college’s commitments to extending learning beyond the classroom and to mission.

E.  “All Are Welcome In This Place, or Are They? The Status of Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination in Catholic Higher Education”
           David Fletcher, Barry University

Is it appropriate for a Catholic university to include the words “sexual orientation” in its non-discrimination clause? Conversely can a Catholic university fail to include “sexual orientation” in its non-discrimination clause and still maintain that it is living up to Gospel values, and the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church? Pope Francis, with his model of accompaniment, has set the example for more inclusivity of LGBTQ members in the Church at large, but Catholic universities have long been leading the way in this area.  The Dominican vision for higher education supports this leadership: “the pursuit of truth, … seeing God in all things, compassion and justice…”, as does the “Catholic principle of the inherent dignity of each person… [which] lies at the heart of Dominican education and fosters a spirit of inclusion, mutual respect, empathy, hospitality and caring to create diverse learning communities.” This presentation will demonstrate that explicit protection based on sexual orientation is both a common reality in the Catholic higher education environment and is supported by magisterial teaching. Attendees can use information from this session to be advocates for inclusion initiatives in their own communities/situations.

F.  “Embracing Diversity in the English Classroom”
          Kathleen Hickey, Dominican College of Blauvelt

This presentation will focus on incorporating diversity in the English classroom. Researchers point out that there is a great deal of value in reading culturally diverse texts. As teachers, we have a responsibility to provide our students with opportunities and techniques to read such texts, many that may fall outside the typical literary canon.  Students need to be exposed to diverse works so they can see “other” and potentially learn empathy. Reading some controversial texts, however uncomfortable they might be, enables students to critically self-reflect and see the interconnection between characters, as well as themselves and their peers. The presentation will consist of looking at some texts, examining quotes, discussing them, and finally suggesting how we can do this in the classroom. Literary theory notes that there is interaction among the reader, the text, and the context, so cultural diverse texts are necessary for creating an inclusive environment in the classroom.

G.  “Must Everything be an Argument”
             Daniel Anderson and Sheila Bauer-Gatos, Dominican University

One of the most popular and widely used textbooks in collegiate composition courses is Everything’s an Argument (now in its 5th edition from Bedford St. Martin’s).  One of the book’s central premises – a tenet generally accepted in academia – holds that students must learn to write and speak in the form of an argument, preferably one that they can thoroughly defend and support.  This panel of two composition instructors – both directors or former directors of programs in composition and developmental writing – proposes to question the pervasiveness of the premise that argumentation is essential in collegiate composition.  Moreover, the panel will examine the role of argument’s much-maligned but essential counterpart: doubt.  While academics often put forth thesis-based argumentation as a contrast (or antidote) to the partisan squabbling that dominates the news media and contemporary popular culture, our panel will explore the value of uncertainty in inquiry-based research and the pursuit of truth.