How to Transform a Traditional Course with Student-Centered Learning: A Workshop for Anyone Teaching or Preparing to Teach at the University Level

How to Transform a Traditional Course with  Student-Centered Learning:  A Workshop for Anyone Teaching or Preparing to Teach at the University Level
Monday, December 7, 2015 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm

How to Transform a Traditional Course with  Student-Centered Learning:  A Workshop for Anyone Teaching or Preparing to Teach at the University Level
with Professor Cathy N. Davidson

Monday, December 7 | 5:30 - 7:00 pm
The Garage, Franklin Humanities Institute
Room C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse Building
114 S Buchanan Blvd, Durham, NC

Join the discussion using the hashtags #fight4edu and #engagedscholar
Or, join us for an online activity in the Engaged Scholars group

Distinguished Visiting Professor Cathy N. Davidson, co-founder of the Franklin Humanities Institute, will be returning to Duke to conduct a workshop on how to turn a traditional course (in any field, at any level) into a student-centered course. The workshop will include a conversation between Vice Provost Edward Balleisen, Elizabeth Brake and Will Goldsmith about what can happen in a “flipped” history classroom. This is intended to be a hands-on workshop and will include some group exercises so, if you have a current syllabus or an ideal syllabus you are including in a prospective job portfolio, bring it along.  

The goal of this workshop is to think through methods that engage each and every student in a classroom, including in beginning courses and with students with no prior training in the subject matter.  We know from several studies of the “tyranny of meritocracy” that our universities often preserve rather than minimize the inequality of society at large.  Student-centered or progressive learning has been championed by thinkers as diverse as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and Stuart Hall as well as by contemporary educators including Alfie Kohn and Carol Dweck. We’ll be moving from theory to practice, working on actual methods for including multiple voices in the lecture hall and seminar classroom, for replacing summative with formative assessment, for including students into the creation of a syllabus, and for encouraging students to write their own learning contracts and a class constitution.  

All of these student-centered learning practices are about deconstructing inherited assumptions about certification-centered norms of 20th century “higher education.” Our goal will be to imagine new methods and to learn some inspiring practices.

Cathy N. Davidson 

Cathy Davidson is a Ruth F. DeVarney Professor Emerita and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University; and is a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She has published more than twenty books on the history of technology and culture, cognition, and other subjects. She is cofounder of HASTAC, was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities, is the first educator on the Mozilla Board of Directors, and is the 2015 New American Colleges & University Boyer Award recipient for “significant contributions to American higher education”.  

Previously, Davidson had a long career as Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke. She served as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies, working with faculty and students to design some seventy new cross-campus programs and technologies.


You must RSVP at to attend!!! Please include your name and indicate what you are teaching or plan to teach (if you are a teaching assistant, you can include that experience too).

Suggested Reading:  “Why Start with Pedagogy?  4 Good Reasons, 4 Good Solutions”  


This workshop is part of Academic Futurology, a new series of the Humanities Futures that invites faculty to rethink and reinvigorate practices and structures in the humanities, and is presented by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, HASTAC, and the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University.



1 comment

We will not be livestreaming this event because it is an actual workshop.  However, we are building a Group on HASTAC where we will be posting materials during the session, soliciting comments via the comments box and Twitter, and in all ways making this a real-time workshop for distance as well as actual participants. 


Stay tuned and we will be inviting you to the Group and to the event.  We're excited!    We hope to use the event how for no cost at all--literally free--anyone can transform a traditional class into an engaged learning experience, including with a public component on the HASTAC website with its safeguards and its careful, mentoring, thoughtful community. 

HASTAC gives students and professors a community of learning and a community of practice in which to share work and ideas.  This session will show you how to make the most of it.  Over 100+ courses have done so in the past and this is an open invitation to anyone who is part of the open, free HASTAC community.