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Coffees at the Center for Teaching and Learning Serve Up Much More

March 14, 2008
By: WSU News

At 9:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday morning, the conversation had turned to how to set up shared calendars to aid faculty-student research projects. By then, some nine faculty members had come for coffee and conversation, and had moved on to their classes in economics, criminal justice, biology and chemistry.

“Coffee at the Center” happens every two weeks starting at 8 a.m. in the Center for Teaching and Learning, which is in room
S-117. Andrea Bilics, the center’s director, started these coffees in the spring 2007 semester to bring faculty together to talk about teaching.

“Our departments are silos, and we stay within them,” she said. “We’ve created a space for people to meet informally, so we have a chance to talk across disciplines.” This, she notes, is a plus on a campus moving toward more interdisciplinary courses.

The coffees also serve a social function. Emily Soltano (Psychology) regularly drops by. “It’s the conversation,” she says about what draws her there. She says that people always have good suggestions about how to juggle work and life. “It’s also a way to check in and see what’s going on.” Jacqueline Brennan (Occupational Therapy) agrees. “Unless you’re on a college committee, you don’t know what’s going on. We’re an isolated department in OT.”

The coffees are also an easy way for faculty to acquaint themselves with the resources of the center—the books, the journals, the examples of college teaching research—as well as its services, which include consultation services for faculty who request help with their teaching. “The library is great,” said Francis “Tuck” Amory(Urban Studies).

The coffees draw anywhere from 30-35 faculty to just a few, said Bilics, who confesses that she does not like coffee. She’s a tea drinker. Rest assured, if you are too, there’s always tea at these coffees. And by the next one, maybe someone will have figured out the shared calendar problem.

Article written by by Barbara Zang, Ph.D.

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