Administrators and faculty from NAC&U’s member campuses attended the annual Summer Institute hosted by Valparaiso University from June 21 – 23, 2017, to take part in sessions and workshops on engaging in difficult dialogues.
The overall goal of this Summer Institute was to allow participants to return to their campuses feeling more adept at having difficult conversations and thinking about how their institutions could move forward with these types of discussions. To foster this, the Institute featured several interactive sessions, including multiple group discussions leveraging Valparaiso University’s Civic Reflections program. The Civic Reflections program uses readings, images, and videos to engage people in deep, productive conversation about issues that impact their communities and work in the world. Using these principles, facilitators led discussion groups on topics such as race, religion, international students and cultural differences, women’s issues, LGBTQ, trigger warnings and classroom discussion, and politics.
The plenary sessions also addressed difficult dialogues, free speech, and civility. (Watch videos from the plenary sessions on our YouTube channel.) Frederick Lawrence, CEO and secretary of Phi Beta Kappa and an attorney, gave a thought-provoking plenary on free speech and civility, and Libby Roderick, associate director of the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, engaged the audience in an interactive session about managing difficult dialogues.
The Summer Institute featured panels and presentations from faculty and administrators at Belmont University, Hamline University, Nazareth College, North Central College, The Sage Colleges, and Wagner College. The Institute led off with a panel on “Managing Difficult Subjects on Campus,” moderated by Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler, which included candid discussion from President Fayneese Miller of Hamline University and President Daan Braveman of Nazareth College. Faculty-led sessions included topics such as “Developing a Strategic Plan for Diversity,” “Resolving Conflict in the First-Year Classroom,” and Creating Inclusive Communities by Having Hard Conversations.”
NAC&U also presented the inaugural NAC&U Award for Student Excellence, which recognized three graduating seniors for their knowledge and experience in liberal arts, professional studies or experiential learning, and/or civic engagement.
Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., will host the 2018 Summer Institute.