This faculty community of inquiry and practice explored the unique characteristics and significance of teaching and learning in the arts and humanities. At a time when these disciplines are increasingly disparaged in wider public discourse, this community was dedicated to affirming the importance of arts and humanities education and articulating the unique contributions of these disciplines in participants’ own terms. Participants examined how the content, skills, and habits of mind that these disciplines foreground are essential for creative, critical, and expansive thinking; for grappling with nuance, complexity, and subjectivity; and for fostering democracy and social justice. By deepening their understanding of learning in and through the arts and humanities, participants enriched their own teaching and supported one another in thinking more intentionally about teaching in their disciplines.
The community of inquiry ran for the 2019 calendar year (February-November), meeting approximately monthly during the spring and fall semesters to discuss the challenges and opportunities particular to teaching in the arts and humanities. At the midpoint of the program, participants (re)designed a course at one of the summer 2019 Course Design Institutes. Participants shaped the key questions driving the work, but some of these included:
- What does learning look like in the arts and humanities? How do we know when we see it?
- What commonalities exist in teaching and learning across different arts and humanities disciplines? How is teaching and learning in each discipline unique?
- What skills do students learn in arts and humanities classes—and what are the advantages and disadvantages of highlighting skills when we think about learning in these disciplines?
- What types of assignments best allow students to demonstrate what they’ve learned, and how do we evaluate that work?
- Does learning in the arts and humanities look different in a class of 15 than in a class of 35? What about in a class of 150? How do we adapt our teaching to make sure students are learning what and how we want them to learn, regardless of class size?