Gen Ed on My Mind

AGLS will invite a series of association officers, members and guests to write short essays on current general education issues and matters of the day. Our aim is to have a new essay every 6 weeks. Past essays will be archived online for a year, then in association offices. Have something on your mind? Contact us at execdir@agls.org to find out how to share your ponderings.

But What is a Consti-tute?

Joyce Lucke - Sunday, May 21, 2017

Alison Parker-Moore (Belmont University)
AGLS Council Member

Before we get to the heart of the above question, allow me to elaborate just a bit on the role of the AGLS in your world of delivering higher education then I can explain the concept of a ‘con-stitute’.  The Association for General and Liberal Studies focuses on connecting faculty and administrators with the tools they need to create, revise, and/or run a quality general education program.  We like to say that the AGLS is dedicated to helping those in the ‘trenches’ of general education succeed in meeting their goals...we are a resource for those faculty and administrators (who are often still faculty) who are tasked to deal with the daily operation of general education.  How do the faculty and administrators in these roles learn what they need to know to be effective?  How do they avoid repeating the mistakes of similar institutions on the road to reform?  Often, those with a significant role in general education may attend conferences, so they can learn about what has been successful for others, or they go to institutes, so they can participate in series of workshops on these matters.  Each of these development opportunities costs precious travel dollars in a climate where faculty are strongly encouraged/incentivized to present rather than just attend.   

This is where the idea for our ‘con-stitute’ was born.  At the AGLS we recognize the need for faculty presentation opportunities and we aim to bring together the best of presentations with the level of engagement of a workshop.  With many presentation formats scheduled, faculty are encouraged to submit proposals to present on the pieces of general education that are innovative and successful rather than waiting until the entire program is recognized with an award for excellence.  There are still plenty of opportunities to share your bigger picture of general education.  This is where the concept of the institute becomes more obvious.  If your program is running well, reconsider giving a traditional paper presentation and submit a proposal for full workshop or an interactive session where the audience can engage and apply that knowledge to the development of their own program. 

The AGLS ‘con-stitute’ is built with two layers of organization:  content themes and presentation mechanics.  The four themes for the 2017 ‘Con-stitute’ are General Education Reform and Revision, Assessment in General Education, Leveraging Campus Resources, and Classroom Innovations.  Each of these themes could easily be its own ‘con-stitute’ that brings institutions together to engage in discussions about the trials and tribulations associated with running a general education program.  In reality, most general education faculty and administrators simply don’t have time to devote to each of the themes separately, and I challenge you to find a program that faces challenges with only one of these.  Addressing these four themes in a single ‘con-stitute’ gives attendees more opportunities dig deeper into each of the topics as they relate to the needs of their home institution.  But wait…there’s more!  Within each of these themes we plan to have presentations in several different formats ranging from traditional paper presentations to full workshops (and everything in between) so that attendees don’t just hear about the great things happening in General Education, they get to engage and take home concrete ideas and practices to use in their own programs.  The different formats allow us to explore different presentation techniques that can, themselves, be implemented in classrooms and meeting for better engagement.  This is the unifying concept of the ‘con-stitute’:  every session aims to provide the audience with one or more ideas, practices, or techniques that they can use…’take-aways’. 

The AGLS ‘con-stitute’ is designed to bring together faculty and administrators at all levels of general education development so that they can learn from the experiences of other or share their own journey on the path to reform.  With opportunities to present what has worked and even more opportunities to participate and learn ways to fill the gaps in your own program, there is something for everyone at the AGLS ‘Con-stitute’ this year.

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