CIC's Faculty Seminars: Promoting Professional Growth

Faculty Seminars report cover

​Since the early 2000s, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has offered seminars for faculty members in a variety of fields including, most frequently, American history, classics, and art history. These core disciplines of the liberal arts are essential ingredients of general education, and the subjects of the seminars are staples in the curriculum of undergraduate education. Providing opportunities for professional development and intellectual enrichment for teachers in these fields remains an important service provided by CIC.

One series of seminars has persisted through CIC’s long collaboration with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Over the years, leading historians such as Joyce Appleby, Thomas Bender, Henry Binford, David Blight, Robert Dallek, David Brion Davis, James Horton, Ernest May, Carl Smith, and Richard White, have led seminars that are approximately a week long. Competition among nominations has been keen. Almost invariably, the participants express appreciation for the opportunity to work with a leading historian, to work with one another, to think in new ways about curriculum design and teaching, and to have the chance to rekindle the scholarly interests that often have been submerged under heavy teaching responsibilities since graduate school many years ago.

CIC recently asked Thomas Falkner, an experienced evaluator of CIC’s programs and the former provost of McDaniel College, to take an in-depth look at one seminar, “The Civil War in American Memory,” that took place at Yale University in June 2018 and was led by David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. Falkner’s report demonstrates that a relatively small amount of money can significantly strengthen faculty development and enhance teaching, especially when faculty members’ dedication both to their students and to their fields of expertise is unwavering.

​​Council of Independent Colleges
By Thomas Falkner
February 2019