This year, Middlebury Institute faculty members Anne Campbell and David Wick and Program Manager Amy Marcus MAIEM/MPA ‘18 launched “Conference as Curriculum,” consisting of three components: a pilot program, research project, and a curricular design initiative.
This effort was funded by the Ron and Jessica Liebowitz Fund for Innovation (FFI), which “provides support for experimental and unconventional projects that have the potential to create lasting, positive change and strengthen Middlebury’s educational experience.”
The pilot program offered International Education Management (IEM) and Masters in Public Administration (MPA) students the opportunity to attend a professional conference and make connections between the learning that is fostered in the classroom and the learning that happens at conferences. The project was supported by Career and Academic Advisor Grace O’Dell MPA ‘12, MAIEM ‘18, and two graduate assistants—Caitlin Shepherd, MAIEM/MPA ‘19, who focused on curriculum development, and JoAnn Doll, MAIEM ‘19, whose role centered around research and evaluation. As part of the pilot this semester, six participants attended the Diversity Abroad (DA) conference in Boston with Wick and eight attended the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference in San Francisco with Campbell. Participants attended workshops before and after the conference. In preparing beforehand, they set personalized goals for their learning and professional development.
Apart from participation in the pilot project, some students presented or co-facilitated at one of the conferences. At the CIES conference, Erin Kelly-Weber MAIEM/MPA ‘19 presented a poster on “The interplay of climate change and girls’ secondary education: Exploring the literature in four countries in Eastern and Southern Africa,” and Katie Aker MAIEM/MPA ‘19 presented a poster on “Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Youth Unemployment: Insights from Latin America.” At the Diversity Abroad conference, Sara Paliga MAIEM ‘19 and Jasmine Hardy MAIEM ‘19 assisted with a session entitled “Culturally-Responsive Advising to Leverage Student Strengths and Increase Their Success” alongside Professor Wick, Emily Hammock Mosby of the University of New Mexico, DuBois Jennings from the Institute of Study Abroad (IFSA), and Lisa Johnson from Smith College. In addition to assisting the Conference as Curriculum pilot as a graduate assistant, Doll co-facilitated a session on “What 1st-gen students can teach us: Collaborative analysis guiding change” with Professor Wick, Evelyn Lueker MAIEM ’18, and Dr. Tasha Willis and Dr. Sonja Lind from CSU Los Angeles.
Conference as Curriculum Pilot Program
Another important component of Conference as Curriculum is research. “We are looking at trying to understand more of how conferences are sites of learning, how students take advantage of them, and some of the barriers to this concept of learning at conferences and some of the rewards as well,” Dr. Campbell explained. The research aims to discover an answer for several questions: What do masters students in a professional graduate school learn at professional and academic conferences? How does this learning complement or contradict their previous knowledge on the subject? And how does this learning shape their academic and professional plans, if at all? The research entails interviews before and after conference attendance with pilot participants who chose to opt into the study.
“The idea actually came from conversations in spring 2017 with students who went to the Comparative and International Education Society conference,” explained Campbell. “They were strategic about sessions that they attended so that they could really follow their interests, and they noticed that sessions would build and complement on each other, and also on the curriculum [at the Institute].”
As to the future of Conference as Curriculum, the hope is to continue to improve and develop the curriculum for use across the Middlebury network. Additionally, one of the curiosities that the curriculum and research hopes to address is whether this concept is applicable to any conference in any setting. Long term, the idea is to potentially apply the elements of the project to conferences in other fields, and share research findings on the relationship between professional and academic conferences and graduate student learning. Marcus described next steps as “redesigning the curriculum, making edits for improvement, and thinking about how to expand it beyond IEM and MPA, and beyond the Institute.”
Middlebury Institute Professor and International Education Management Program Chair Katherine Punteney was honored with the Service in International Education Award at the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) Region 12 Conference.
A two-day celebration of Middlebury’s Fund for Innovation showcased initiatives ranging from tandem language learning to a lecture series on embodied intelligence.
The Middlebury Institute’s annual Faculty Excellence Award for 2018 has been awarded to International Education Management Professor Anne Campbell.