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Proposals Accepted for 2012-13

Creating the Sustainable Classroom

Through the 2011-2012 academic year, we have conducted an FLC focusing on “A Framework for Sustainability Academics.” This FLC has allowed us to develop a concept of sustainability as it applies to academics in a university, discuss its place within a culture characterized by “disciplines,” and discuss different levels of commitment to sustainability within the academic endeavor. As a part of this FLC, two important issues recurred: How do we get buy-in from faculty and is it possible to approach sustainability academics as the development of a “sustainable classroom” with different levels of intensity and commitment?

The members of the existing FLC have all committed to continue our efforts and have asked that this proposal be submitted to support the exploration of these issues. The FLC was also so happy with the FLC approach that they asked to include an extension of the concept into each of their disciplines. We therefore propose to do the following:

  • Use the fall semester meetings to explore the issues of how we demonstrate the value of developing sustainable classrooms to faculty and program leadership, then
  • Develop an understanding and language of “levels of sustainability” so that different intensities of commitment might be adopted (e.g., from modeling sustainable behaviors in classroom activities and practices to developing full degree programs in sustainability; with a range of ideas in-between).
  • Use the spring semester to have each FLC participant meet with a group of faculty in her or his discipline for three or more meetings to engage in FLC discussions about the sustainable classroom and getting buy-in for it.
  • Hold at least three meetings of the main FLC to discuss findings and generally debrief what is occurring in the meetings within the disciplines.


  • Cliff Fox
  • Bill Godfrey
  • John Powers
  • Christina Lindholm
  • Deirdre Condit
  • Monty Kier
  • Michael Pitts
  • Stephen Fong
  • Faye Prichard
  • Carolyn Hawley

Exploring eReading and ePublishing

The Exploring eReading and ePublication topic-based Faculty Learning Community will focus on analyzing the impact of the increased use of digital text for teaching and learning at the university level and the affordances of instructor developed eTextbooks for use in courses at Virginia Commonwealth University. Through bi-weekly FLC meetings held across the academic year members will have opportunities to research and test various digital readers, analyze digital formats for instructional materials, determine the future impact of digital text use on VCU students and develop simple eTextbooks for use in their own courses. The group will complete individual projects related to the use of eReaders and/or eTextbooks related to their course content. The FLC group projects will focus on the development of policy for utilizing digital text at VCU, sharing research findings, and offering professional development related to ePublication with the broader community.

Studying changes in digital text materials used for instruction through an FLC is beneficial for the members of the eReader sub-committee members, the ITAG advisory group, and the broader university community. FLCs support the active collaborative engagement of a diverse group of faculty in seminar sessions focused on a topic of interest (Cox, 2012). The eReaders sub-committee noted that there are many issues surrounding the use of eReaders and digital text within VCU classrooms and work environments that cannot be fully understood without in-depth analysis and research. Committee meetings, in contrast to FLCs, do not provide enough time to deepen participants’ knowledge base or expertise around a topic of interest. Utilizing an FLC structure will allow participants to develop a community of practice with similar research interests related to teaching and learning in digital text environments.


  • Joan Rhodes
  • Ghidewon Abay-Asmerom
  • Scott Davis
  • Thom Didato
  • Laura Gariepy
  • Matt Woolman

Exploring the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation

The Sesquicentennial FLC from 2011-2012 consisted of an interdisciplinary group of faculty, mainly from the College of Humanities and Sciences, who focused on collaborative teaching and research about teaching that focused on syncing up general education courses around the theme of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation.  Our group worked with the Sesquicentennial Task Force, a larger group of faculty and staff appointed by the Provost, to begin to create programming that augments our collaborative work across the disciplines with our teaching about the Sesquicentennial.

This year, our FLC will push our work further.  This past year, we were able to create and run a number of general education courses (i.e. English 215, History 201, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies 201, among others) that focus on the Civil War and Emancipation from a number of different perspectives.  We created a website of syllabi and supporting materials that shows our collaboration and provides a resource for faculty interested in teaching collaboratively along a theme.  This upcoming year, we will continue our work in these general education classes as well as offer lecture series, workshops, and student opportunities for presenting their research and creative work that attends to the Civil War and Emancipation.  Building out our project to have a wider impact on our VCU community is central to our mission for the upcoming year.


  • Liz Canfield
  • John Kneebone
  • Brian Daugherity
  • Cristina Stanciu—English
  • Emilie Raymond—History
  • Tawnya Pettiford Wates—Theatre

Modern Learning Spaces

The purpose of this proposed faculty learning community (FLC) is to bring together VCU faculty, staff and administrators to explore the learning spaces on our campus and facilitate conversations and inquiry into the degree to which these spaces are consonant with the university’s vision moving forward. At a time when VCU is constructing an important new academic building on the Monroe Campus and a new hybrid residential/academic building was recently completed, the time is right to explore and critically examine our learning spaces.

Additionally, VCU Technology Services recently announced a major transition to Google Apps for Edu, which has the potential to dramatically change the online learning spaces available to faculty and students. It is time, then, to consider both physical and virtual learning spaces and whether they blend together in ways that constitute a coherent sense of community.


  • Jon Becker
  • Lisa Phipps
  • Dianne Simons
  • Dennis Clark
  • Joyce Knight
  • John Palesis
  • Monty Jones
  • Phil Edwards

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Last modified: June 20, 2013
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