Current Faculty Learning Communities

Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) bring faculty together to foster a 1-2 semester-long conversation on a topic of mutual interest and encourage an application of the knowledge gained.  Each FLC consists of a facilitator and a group of at least four faculty.  If you are interested in registering for an FLC, simply apply for an Faculty Learning Community in the FTLC Grant System.  All faculty are eligible to apply, unless otherwise noted. (Note: GVSU staff may participate with supervisor approval.)

If you are interested in forming or leading a Faculty Learning Community for the current or upcoming academic year, complete a Faculty Learning Community Letter of Intent Form. 

Looking for inspiration?  Visit our Past Faculty Learning Communities webpage to see a complete list (with descriptions) of FLCs from past academic years.

Don't take our word for it.  Watch this short video in which GVSU faculty are interviewed about the impact participating in a Pew FTLC Faculty Learning Community had on them.  We couldn't ask for better ambassadors for this fantastic program!

2019 - 2020 Faculty Learning Community (FLC) List

Click on the title of any Faculty Learning Community listed below to be brought to specific information about that particular FLC.

*Indicates the Faculty Learning Community is a Sponsored Project.

View Past FLC Topics 


Are you facilitating an FLC this term?  A multitude of FLC Facilitator Resources can be found here!


1st Year Student Support: Enhancing the Student Success Network and its Faculty Partners

Fall 2019—Winter 2020

How can we best support students in their matriculation to College? Specifically, how do we measure and otherwise enhance their knowledge of 1st year competencies?

This group is focused on developing better ways to brighten the future of our 1st year students. The SSN is a new initiative that connects faculty members with new students. The first goal is to explore best practices in training and developing Faculty partners as they navigate supporting students, with a focus on commuter students. A second goal will be to refine the training curriculum for the SSN. The third goal for this group will be developing key messaging to be shared with students. The fourth goal of the group is to evaluate the SSN and provide recommendations.

SSN is a broad, university-wide program in its infancy, and this group could have a profound impact on the 1st year student experience. Faculty members interested in further supporting 1st year students are encouraged to apply; preference will be given to faculty serving as SSN mentors in 2019-20.

Digital Badge:  To earn a badge associated with this Faculty Learning Community and for more information about the FacultyBadges@GVSU Initiative, visit our FacultyBadges@GVSU website.

Meeting Dates/Times: October 2 from 9am–10:30am

Location/Campus: JHZ 3068, Allendale Campus

Facilitator: Merritt Delano-Taylor, Biomedical Science,

Co-facilitator: Brian Hatzel, Movement Science,

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Active Learning and Teaching Response Systems

Fall 2019—Winter 2020

How might we explore teaching in an active environment with the Teaching Response System?

The purpose of this FLC is to explore active learning environments and how to use a Teaching Response System in the classroom. The idea of a teaching response system was first proposed by Eric Mazur, a professor of Physics at Harvard University. We will use Derek Buff's book, "Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments" as a guide to using teaching response systems and assessing how they might improve learning.

***This FLC is open to members of the 2018-2019 Best Teachers FLC only***

Meeting Dates/Times: TBD

Location/Campus: Allendale Campus, Pew Downtown Campus, Various locations in GR or Allendale

Facilitator: Majd Al-Mallah, Modern Languages and Literature,

Interested? You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.


Authoring Professional Identity

Fall 2019

How can storytelling be used as a tool to clarify and construct the professional identities of teacher educators and those of their students?

The construction of professional identity is a fundamental aim of teacher education. However, neoliberal reforms of schooling have created an identity crisis for members of the teaching profession. In the midst of this turmoil, how can teacher educators create a shift from being defined by external factors to authoring their own professional identity? The purpose of this FLC is for teacher educators to explore the use of autobiographical storytelling as a means to clarify, construct, and articulate a professional identity.

***This FLC is limited to only those College of Education faculty members who participated in the Fall 2018 FLC titled "Telling Tales: Using Stories to Construct Professional Identity."

Meeting Dates/Times:  TBD

Location/Campus:  Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Facilitator:  Mary Bair, Educational Foundations,

Interested?  You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Controversial Issues in the News and the Classroom

Winter 2020

How might we take a disciplinary approach in the classroom to addressing highly controversial issues that unpredictably surface in the news cycle?

Controversial issues often surface spontaneously in the classroom. The news cycle and current events can make it impossible to ignore polarizing issues that are right in front of us. This FLC will examine ways to manage discussion of highly sensitive issues from a disciplinary perspective. It is my hope that faculty from a variety of disciplines will contribute to a rich discussion and hands-on experience,

Meeting Dates/Times:  TBD

Location/Campus: Allendale Campus, Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Facilitator:  Donald Zinman, Political Science,

Interested?  You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Growing Diversity

Fall 2019—Winter 2020

What is the role of place-based food justice education in relationship to the understanding of religion, and what pedagogies will best support students in exploring how food systems engagement and religious diversity affect each other?

This closed learning community focuses on creating capacity for the integration of food justice, intercultural and religious studies approaches in place-based experiential learning at our campus farm. The faculty are all members of the Wabash funded FTLC-partnered grant project, "Growing Diversity." The project is co-directed by Sarah King and Amy McFarland and includes faculty from IRIS, Area Studies, Public Health, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies.

***This FLC is limited to faculty involved in the Wabash grant-funded "Growing Diversity" project.

Meeting Dates//Times: TBD

Location/Campus: Allendale Campus

Facilitator: Amy McFarland, Environmental and Sustainability Studies,

Co-facilitator: Sarah King, Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies (IRIS),

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Internships: Approaches, Strategies, and Best Practices

Fall 2019

How can we help students get the most out of their internships?

Internships serve different purposes for different students. For some students, an internship can serve as a starting point for their academic and professional aspirations. For others who have a clearer vision, an internship can help them apply their knowledge and skills in a "real world" setting. Much of the responsibility for helping students understand the purpose and value of an internship falls on the shoulders of internship directors. Therefore, this FLC will center on helping GVSU internship directors explore:

  • best practices for advising and evaluating student internship experiences
  • strategies for outreach, networking, and student preparation
  • approaches for building and strengthening relationships with employers and community partners

Digital Badge:  To earn a badge associated with this Faculty Learning Community and for more information about the FacultyBadges@GVSU Initiative, visit our FacultyBadges@GVSU website.

Meeting Dates//Times: TBD

Location/Campus: Allendale Campus

Facilitator: Dauvan Mulally, Writing,

Co-facilitator: Denise Goerisch, Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies,

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Introduction to Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Fall 2019

How might faculty provide a more inclusive learning environment through the concepts of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional method that can address the diverse learning needs in today's classroom. The framework of UDL consists of instructional approaches that provide students with choices and alternatives in the materials, content, tools, context, and supports their use. This faculty learning community is for faculty who are interested in becoming more familiar with the concept of UD and UDL. Participants will become familiar with UDL framework for teaching and learning and will incorporate UDL into their courses. Faculty of all learning levels, knowledge and expertise are welcome.

Meeting Dates/Times:  11:30am–1pm on the following Thursdays

  • September 19
  • October 10 & 24
  • November 7 & 21
  • December 5

Location/Campus:  DEV 302E, Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Facilitator:  Dana Munk, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow and Professor Movement Science,

Co-facilitators:  Amy Schelling, Education - Teaching and Learning,

Julia VanderMolen, Public Health,

Interested?  You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

"Making Waves" in the African Diaspora

Fall 2019 — Winter 2020

What is the relationship, if any, between water and freedom in the history of the African Diaspora?

This faculty learning community seeks to interrogate the relationship between water and the history of the African diaspora. In our contemporary moment, water may often be associated with notions of fear, vulnerability, or trauma in communities of African descent. However, research suggests that African worldview and experience prior to the spread of global slavery created meaning in and through water that fostered self-making and, in some instances, secured freedom. Using Kevin Dawson's recent book Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora as a springboard for discussion, we will theorize the ways in which a more nuanced understanding of the connections between race and water can inform pedagogy (public or institutional) as well as communal well-being.

Meeting Dates/Times: Meeting 10am–11:30am on the following dates—10/16***, 11/6, 11/20

Location/Campus: JHZ 3068, Allendale Campus
***the meeting on October 16 will be in JHZ 2012; all others in JHZ 3068

Facilitators: Regis Fox, English department,

Sherry Johnson, English department,

Interested? You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Practicing Mindfulness

Fall 2019

How can we overcome some of the common hurdles to including mindfulness meditation into daily life in an age of constant distraction?

Research has shown that mindfulness practice can help manage stress and anxiety and improve both physical and emotional well-being. Teaching our mind how to focus and be present can be challenging and frustrating. In this FLC, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about mindfulness meditation and how to practice it. Through reading and discussion, simple tools will be introduced that can help incorporate mindfulness meditation practice into the daily routine. Participants will also share ideas and form connections with other professional colleagues who share an interest in exploring mindfulness meditation practice.

Meeting Dates/Times:  1pm–2pm on the following Mondays

  • September 9* & 23
  • October 7 & 28
  • November 11* & 25

Location/Campus:  CHS 240, Health Campus (Cook-DeVos Health Sciences)

  • *Exception: the meetings on September 9 and November 11 will be held in CHS 140


Facilitator:  Martina Reinhold, Physician Assistant Studies,

Interested?  You register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Reach/Teach Gen Z

Fall 2019

What do experts have to say about the unique characteristics of the current cohort of students, and how can their learning outcomes be maximized?

Ever feel as though you've lost your knack for connecting with students? Courses you've spent years honing suddenly no longer resonate, your tried-and-true methods and techniques falling flat? Don't panic—you're not an old fogie, but we may need to get retooled in order to reach a cohort that was weaned on the smartphone and came of age during the Great Recession. In this FLC we will examine recent research on Generation Z plus bring in campus experts; together we will forge new strategies to enhance our effectiveness and maximize our students' learning.

Meeting Dates//Times: Meeting from 2pm–3pm on the following dates—10/4, 10/11, 11/1, 11/22, 12/6

Location/Campus: Ferris Coffee (227 Winter Ave NW), Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Facilitator: David Eick, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow and Modern Languages and Literatures,

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Surviving Climate Crisis Through Education

Fall 2019—Winter 2020

What is the role of liberal arts education in preparing students to fully understand, mitigate, adapt to, cope with and make ethical decisions to address the global crisis?

Global climate crisis has adverse impacts on all aspects of environment and society. The generation of our students is particularly attuned to climate crisis and deeply distressed about it. Our future is uncertain and our children and students will be tasked with designing and implementing new solutions. Liberal arts education provides the best approach to study complex problems, such as climate change, from multiple angles and empower teachers and learners through interdisciplinary problem solving. Whether we address equity and social justice, refugees and forced migration, deforestation and soil degradation, biogeochemical cycles or ocean dynamics, climate change provides a focal point for their nexus. From poetry to physics, from political science to digital studies, from geography to ethics, every major or area of study today inevitably deals with challenges of climate change. The proposed FLC will provide an important platform for interdisciplinary faculty collaboration to support climate change education across disciplines.

Meeting Dates//Times: TBD

Location/Campus: Allendale Campus

Facilitator: Elena Lioubimtseva, Geography and Sustainable Planning,

Facilitator: Laura Schneider,  Political Science,

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.

Teaching About Trauma and Resilience Across Disciplines

Fall 2019

How can we use an interdisciplinary perspective to improve coverage of trauma and resilience in courses across the curriculum?

This group will bring together faculty interested in learning how we can infuse information about trauma and resilience in human development into courses across the GVSU curriculum by identifying a common language/framework for teaching about the topics and sharing discipline-specific knowledge and strategies for covering these topics. We will also brainstorm about how we can work within the current Grand Valley State University curriculum to expand student learning about these topics across their academic careers (e.g. issues courses, badge programs, service learning opportunities, etc.).

Meeting Dates//Times: Meeting from 12pm–1pm on the following dates—10/15, 10/29, 11/5, 11/19, 12/3

Location/Campus: ASH 2224, Allendale Campus

Facilitator: Gwenden Dueker, Psychology,

Interested? You can register for this FLC by completing an FLC Application.