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Proposals Accepted for 2010-11


Teaching Creativity

Creativity was chosen for this FLC because creativity is looked upon as a key to success in many disciplines:  business, science, art, math, engineering, and medicine.  However, we rarely teach people how to be more creative.

This is a good topic for a FLC for the same reasons that there’s a FLC on critical thinking. Critical thinking and creative thinking have the same goal -- to make one’s learning richer and to make one’s work better. Critical thinking is a reflective evaluation of work in order to make the work better. Creative thinking happens during creation of the work so the work that is produced is better. To think critically and creatively on a subject requires a deep understanding, and this leads to better learning on that subject. VCU has a commitment to encouraging critical thinking for obvious reasons. Since students learn differently and students work differently, it makes sense to also encourage creative thinking.

The aspects of an FLC that connect most with this topic are collaboration and cross-pollination. This means to be able to connect with other instructors to learn how they teach creativity and inspire new thinking in their students… and to learn how it happens differently in different disciplines (if it does).


  • Piete Blikslager:  Advertising, MASC
  • Lisa Crawford:  DaVinci Center
  • Andrew LeVasseur:  Brandcenter
  • Shana Meganck:  Public Relations, MASC
  • Robert Meganck:  Arts
  • Bill Oglesby:  Journalism, MASC
  • Scott Sherman:  Advertising, MASC
  • Julie Wolfe:  Interior Design, Arts


Faculty Development in Teaching

Our Faculty Learning Community will focus on Faculty Development in Teaching (FDT FLC). Throughout the University there are individuals who work to design, provide, and coordinate faculty development activities for our teaching faculty.  Some Schools and Programs have faculty and staff specifically assigned to this area.  While many of us have had opportunities to interact in an occasional or informal manner, we have not had a structured setting for spending time together to share our professional experiences and expertise, review faculty development literature and evidence for best practices, and collaborate on faculty development program design and delivery.   The FLC format will provide the structure to support this process as well as the flexibility to explore collaborations and projects that are most productive for the group.

he FLC format is ideally suited to this subject matter and we expect that all opportunities inherent in this format will be explored by this group:  approaching faculty development as “expert learners” to increase understanding, identifying potential improvements, and sharing this among a group reflecting a variety of schools and programs.  There is a strong desire among the individuals already identified as FDT FLC members to increase collaboration and opportunities to work together in faculty development.  Each of us has a set of knowledge and skills related to this area and this will allow us to each expand our knowledge and skill set, apply this to our own programs, and work together on initiatives where programs have shared goals.


  • Meredyth Bryk, Dentistry
  • Stephanie Call, Internal Medicine
  • Kim Fisher, CIRC
  • Judy Gary, Family Medicine
  • Kathy Kreutzer, Faculty Affairs SOM
  • Suzanne McGinnis, Nursing
  • Elizabeth Miles,Nursing
  • Joan Pellegrini, Dental Hygiene
  • Jeanne Schlesinger, CIRC
  • Veronica Shuford, Pharmacy
  • Brigitte Sicat, Pharmacy


Teaching Strategies for Reducing Disaster Risk with International Disaster Case Studies: Beyond the Haiti Earthquake

This FLC is focused on understanding the antecedent conditions and root causes of disaster events and exploring best practices to prevent, mitigate, and prepare for them in the undergraduate and graduate pedagogy. The impact of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Boxing Day 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and 9-11 provide painful reminders of the vulnerabilities of communities to disaster risk. These events highlight the fact that natural, health-related, technologic and human-induced disasters are on the rise worldwide, including statistically-probable but unanticipated catastrophes as well as moderate-scale repetitive events. This FLC is a major attempt to address, comprehensively and in-depth, a pedogical approach to the many issues associated with disaster risk reduction.

We emphasize that devastation and loss allow for new opportunities to manage disaster risk in ways characterized by adaptation, transformation, and resilience: traditional plans and policies for mitigating disaster losses are inadequate and so decision makers must understand how natural hazards impact their communities and the policy frameworks in which they are managed.  This FLC incorporates the many different perspectives of faculty across VCU departments and curricula that are related to international disaster risk reduction, including gender and disaster issues, socio-historical approaches to studying disasters, public health, and the role of social workers, especially the skills of social workers of color. We will examine the challenges and opportunities associated with promoting disaster risk reduction strategies in the classrooms. Specifically, the role of social media and social networking tools in disaster education will be explored with a focus on incorporating the viewpoints of minority students and educators, bridging the digital divide, and teaching critical thinking skills in a culture which has become increasingly inundated with disaster images and security alerts.

Accordingly, this FLC develops teaching tools to assess the causes and consequences of disasters through the use of international case studies, as well as providing a global survey of post-recovery policies. Teaching and learning strategies will focus on promoting disaster risk reduction strategies for managing the unexpected and cascading impacts of natural disasters, particularly trans-boundary catastrophes that cross policy domains, geographic, political, and sectoral boundaries. Since this educational field draws on a diverse range of paradigms and influences, discussions are expected to include disaster case histories, empirical studies, conceptual-theoretical investigations, policy perspectives, institutional analysis, and risk analysis, among others.


  • Nell Chenault, VCU Libraires
  • Jason Levy, Wilder School
  • Jenny Jones, Social Work
  • Marian Jones, Wilder School
  • Carmen Monico, Social Work
  • Karen Smith Rotabi, Social Work
  • Patricia Selinger, VCU Libraries


Genetics, Health and Policy: Teaching and Thinking Critically Across Disciplines

The goal of this proposed FLC is to critically examine the pedagogical strategies for addressing the interrelationships between genetics, health, and policy within an interdisciplinary framework.  The facilitators have explicitly sought to engage faculty from various disciplines and from both VCU campuses to spur engaging debate and discussion about strategies for promoting critical thought in the classroom about this complex topic.  Too often complex issues such as these are only given a cursory discussion, and as a primary product from this project we aim to produce modular learning objectives that are transdisciplinary and can be incorporated into many different parts of existing curriculum to provide educators an effective and concise means of promoting critical thought about this topic.

Since the early twentieth century, when Gregor Mendel’s pea breeding experiments were ‘re-discovered’ by the wider scientific community,  social applications of genetic science  have flourished – in eugenic sterilization laws and Army IQ testing, from hybrid corn crops in the US to Lysenko’s failed program of crop genetics in Russia.  But although the uses and misuses of genetics have long been a part of ethical and policy discussions, developing genetic technologies (in areas like prenatal testing and forensic DNA testing and databases) have begun to outpace existing discussions of policy and ethics.  Although many NIH institutes have Strategic Initiatives that explicitly encourage their grantees to integrate genetic information in proposals, the wider implications of genetic information and technology remain underexplored.

As indicated above, an explicit goal of our FLC is to bridge VCU’s two campuses, bringing together faculty from various departments with a keen interest on focused discussion on the topic of “Genetics, Health and Public Policy.”   Through collective critical thinking – by which we mean purposeful and reflective intellectual engagement (through discussion and debate) with shared texts and ideas – we hope to identify and develop a more focused understanding of the critical areas for research and teaching in genetics, health, and public policy.


  • Joann Bodurtha, Genetics
  • Brian Cassel, Massey Cancer Center
  • Danielle Dick, Psychiatry
  • Briana Mezuk, Epidemiology and Community Health
  • John Quillin, Genetics
  • Karen Rader, History
  • Roxann Roberson-Nay, Psychiatry
  • John C. Powers, History
  • Judyth Twigg, Wilder School

Black Education Association – A Conversation on Learning, Race and Pedagogy

In light of the mission of the BEA, we created a Faculty Learning Community through the Center for Teaching Excellence that began a conversation focused on how to enhance the learning experience of Black students at Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the 2009-2010 academic year, five colleagues (Dr. Blue Wooldridge, Dr. Micah McCreary, Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Dr. Allen N. Lewis, and Dr. Katherine Bassard) engaged in extensive discussions centered around five foci:

  1. How to become more responsive to student learning styles of students of color at VCU,
  2. How to enhance the learning experiences of students of color at VCU,
  3. How to more effectively evaluate the learning styles of students,
  4. How to incorporate African American literature and experience into the classroom, and
  5. How to more effectively bridge the gap between the African American community and the academy, particularly the faith, underserved, and prison communities.

The FLC approach is consistent with the concept of "communities of practice," a way to ensure that all stakeholders are at the table and that a broad, multiperspective engagement ensues.  This aligns with two key values of the BEA (1) multidisciplinary points of view (debunking the traditional silo tendency) AND (2) full empowerment of all voices in the discussion. We have used the community of practice/FLC model for our discussion this year to great effect.

Bringing together faculty with expertise in the social sciences (psychology and public administration) the arts (theater and performing arts) and humanities (literature) is no easy task.  What has united us is our common commitment to enhancing the quality of education for all students, particularly students of color.  What has emerged from our process is not only a solid, important research methodology but a new appreciation for the work of colleagues in other disciplines and an ability to frame a truly interdisciplinary conversation that we feel will be of value to other faculty in the BEA, at VCU and beyond.


  • Katherine Bassard, English
  • Micah McCreary , Psychology
  • Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Theater
  • Blue Wooldridge, Wilder School

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Last modified: June 20, 2013
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