Collaboration leads to global solutions

The next installment of The Global Solutions Lecture Series will be presented at Minnesota State Mankato March 24 and 25 by Dr. Gregory Light and Dr. Susanna Calkins, director and associate director of the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University.

The Global Solution Lecture Series, which is funded by the Office of the President and is organized through the University Honors Program, the College of Education, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and various other departments across the university, brings international experts in various fields to campus to discuss how to advance the University’s Strategic Priorities.

These priorities, which are listed on MSU’s Office of the President’s website, include: promoting diversity, enhancing graduate education, enhancing and maintaining the quality and excellence of undergraduate education, implementing and enhancing distance learning and incorporating more international programs into the curriculum.   

“Global Solutions helps to make the university known as a place that helps to solve problems here and across the world,” said Chris Corley, honors program director. “Problems and solutions don’t come from a single department. What these priorities are trying to do is create a sense of collaboration between departments, faculty members, and students.”

Corley believes that this lecture series is helping with that.

The series takes place over two days. A lecture that is open to the university and surrounding community is presented on the first evening, and various workshops that are usually geared toward faculty and students are conducted the next day.  

Light and Calkins are experts in the field of faculty development so this week’s series focuses on balancing the demands of teaching and research excellence within the context of higher education.

“There is increased pressure on all education levels across the country,” Corley said. “This puts pressure on the faculty to juggle and balance what they have to do.”

Light will present “The Puzzle of Teaching: Implications for Today’s University” at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Armstrong Hall 102. He will discuss why some teachers are more effective than others and whether there is a conflict between professors’ roles as scholars and teachers.

Though the lecture sounds faculty focused, Corley encourages students to attend the event.

“Students will be able to get a more informed perspective of what they should get out of a class and why,” Corley said. “A source like Rate My Professor is just a small window into what a professor does. If students can hear what to expect, from research about what makes an excellent professor, they can go in with expectations.”

The workshops that will take place on Friday include “Promoting Inquiry Learning & Real-World Thinking,” which will be given by Calkins, and “Facilitating Cutting Edge Learning for Science Students: Lessons From the Gateway Science Workshop Project,” which will be given by Light.

Calkins’ workshop is open to 30 participants. It will go from 9:30-11:00 a.m. in Morris Hall 210.  She will teach about how to promote real world thinking in the classroom by allowing students to raise questions, probe ideas, and make connections, which is the heart of critical inquiry and reflection. Case studies, discussion and other interactive methods will be used to explore different learning strategies.

Topics covered in Light’s workshop will include cutting-edge student learning; promoting peer mentoring, engaging students in conceptual problem-solving and collaborative group; fostering under-represented students; and developing research training in large lecture classrooms. This workshop is open to 20 participants and will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. in 352 Trafton Center South.

“Student’s can register [for the workshops] if they want to, but it’s more geared toward faculty,” Corley said.

Two other experts have come to campus as a part of the Global Solutions Lecture Series so far this year. One of them was Dr. Mitchell Hammer, a professor emeritus of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University. He presented: “Bridging Across the Cultural Divide: Myths and Realities.” According to Corley, He spoke about intercultural competency and how different groups of people deal with conflict. He also talked about crisis management.

The other expert was Dr. John Zubizarreta an English professor at Columbia college, and immediate past president of the National Collegiate Honors Council. He presented “Encouraging and Developing Reflection for Improved Learning,” which, according to Corley, was about documenting what students can do because of classes they have taken, and applying what they’ve learned to the world as a whole.

One more expert, Dr. Trudy Banta, will present “Valuing Assessment: A National Perspective” on

April 19, 2011, at 7 p.m. in Wissink Hall 285. Banta is currently a Professor of Higher Education and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Academic Planning and Evaluation at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. Dr. Banta is a founding editor of Assessment Update and co-author of Designing Effective Assessment: Principles and Profiles of Good Practice.

Corley said that all the presentations have been given to a full audience.

“Education issues are social issues,” Corley said. “Solving the problems in society includes furthering education, and it’s good to get input on how to do that.”

To register for these workshops sign on to and enter your MSU tech ID and password. On the left side of the page you will see Search for a Class enter 3/25 in the keyword or date search bar and click on enter. Find the class Promoting Inquiry Learning & Real-World Thinking or Facilitating Cutting Edge Learning for Science Students: Lessons from the Gateway Science Workshop Project and click register under the workshop information. The workshops do not cost anything and participants will receive a copy of “Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The Reflective Professional” that goes more in-depth about the material covered in the workshops.

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