2009: The Teaching and Learning Shift

Bates College 2009 Presidential Symposium
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Olin Arts Center

Teaching today’s students challenges Bates faculty and staff to expand our knowledge of how students learn and to deepen our capacity to engage them. Drawing on our engagement in this task across the campus, we are focusing our third annual presidential symposium on the intersection of two of the most important differences between contemporary students and their parents’ and professors’ generations: their understanding and experiences of diversity and their uses of technology.

Today’s students have grown up in a world whose diversity has become increasingly visible, as populations have become more mobile and, closer to home, barriers that were challenged in the 1960s and ‘70s have begun to be crossed. The Bates student population, like those of other colleges and universities, includes more people with a broader range of social identities and experiences than ever before.  A great many more of our students, moreover, seek opportunities for off-campus study, where they live and work in contexts quite different from those in which they were raised.  As a result of changes such as these, our students’ approaches to learning involve different perceptions of the world and the forces that structure it.

At the same time, today’s learners use tools unavailable and perhaps unthinkable to earlier generations.  Digital technology is “native terrain” for 21st century students. Exhibiting an innate savvy with the tools of technology, many young people have developed habits of exploration and expectations of access to worlds that could only be imagined a few years ago. Indeed, they use technology as a portal through which to cross “old” social boundaries.

Both reflecting and intentionally responding to these developments, Bates, too, is undergoing change, witnessed in parts of the new general education curriculum, in “smart” (digitally-equipped) classrooms and emerging pedagogies, and in the college’s re-commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.  Change is consistent with our mission and our history: for 150 years, Bates has provided an outstanding education in the liberal arts and sciences, incorporating over those years advances in knowledge and in strategies for engaging students in learning it. Today, we strive to prepare this and coming generations for life, leadership and service in the context of a multicultural, rapidly changing, and highly competitive world.

In this effort, we are eager to have you join us for our symposium. Our program on April 30th will be highlighted by forums designed for talking with each other and with experts recognized nationally for their insights on the nexus of digital technologies, learning, social differences and youth cultures.

This event is free of charge and open to anyone who wishes to participate. If you have questions please contact Heather Bumps ‘97 at 207-786-6102 or hbumps@bates.edu.

Schedule of Events

Speakers and Panelists