Virtual Center for Teaching & Learning

Faculty Reading Roundtables

The Office of Faculty Development is pleased to announce the 2014-2015 Faculty Reading Roundtables.

If you are interested in joining one of this year’s FRRs, please return a completed form with your first and second choices for participation.

Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College

Mark C. Carnes

Why are so many students intellectually disengaged? Faculty, administrators, and tuition-paying parents have been asking this question for nearly two centuries. Carnes shows how role-immersion games channel students’ competitive (and sometimes mischievous) impulses into transformative learning experiences. His discussion is based on interviews with scores of students and faculty who have used a pedagogy called Reacting to the Past, which features month-long games set during the French revolution, Galileo's trial, the partition of India, and dozens of other epochal moments in disciplines ranging from art history to the sciences. These games have spread to over three hundred campuses around the world, where many of their benefits defy expectations. Students think more critically by internalizing alternative selves, and they understand the past better by filtering it through their present. Fierce competition between opposing sides leads to strong community bonds among teammates and develops speaking, writing, leadership, and problem-solving skills.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Allison Belzer (lead)                               Rob Terry
                                        Beth Howells                                           Caroline Hopkins
                                        Cynthia Costa                                          Renee Berry

Riding a Crocodile

Paul A. Komesarff

Abraham Nevski is a dedicated and eccentric professor of medicine at the Royal Prince John Hospital. He prides himself on his diagnostic skills and powers of reasoning. On returning to work after a break he becomes aware of disturbing changes taking place in the hospital. A series of suspicious deaths then throws his world into confusion. Nevski's inner turmoil grows and he has to confront the dangers that close in around him. Riding a Crocodile is both an insider's account of life in a major teaching hospital and a chilling detective story, exploring life and death issues of urgent contemporary relevance.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Leigh Rich (lead)                               Cristina Rodriguez Carretero
                                        Janet Buelow                                      Andi Beth Mincer
                                        Jean Neils Stunjas                            Kathleen Fabrikant

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

Nina Teicholz

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fats is wrong. For decades, we have been told that the best possible diet involves cutting back on fat, especially saturated fat, and that if we are not getting healthier or thinner it must be because we are not trying hard enough. But what if the low-fat diet is itself the problem? In this captivating and convincing narrative, based on a nine-year-long investigation, Teicholz shows how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community as well as the public imagination, and how recent findings overturn these beliefs. She explains why the Mediterranean Diet is not the healthiest, and how we might be replacing trans-fats with something even worse. With eye-opening scientific rigor, the work upends the conventional wisdom about all fats with the groundbreaking claim that more, not less, dietary fat - including saturated fat - is what leads to better health, wellness, and fitness. Science shows that we have been needlessly avoiding meat, cheese, whole milk and eggs for decades and that we can, guilt-free, welcome these “whole fats” back into our lives.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Scott Metter (lead)                              Christy Mroczek
                                        Sarah Zingales                                   Debra Hagerty
                                        Heather Joesting                                TimMarie Williams

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Ardyth Foster (lead)                            Laura Seifert
                                        Cameron Coates                                Brenda Logan
                                        Michael Benjamin                               Will Belford 
                                        Joy Reed

Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – Helped Save an American Town

Beth Macy

In the town of Bassett in southern Virginia, some of the downtown street lights are dark. The lamps, maintained by the once prosperous Bassett Furniture Co., are now funded by voluntary contributions from residents and businesses - when they can afford it. Bassett is just one of many towns and cities in Virginia and North Carolina where scores of furniture-making plants have closed in the past 20 years, mostly because of competition from China and other foreign countries. Journalist Beth Macy documents the collapse of the American furniture industry and its human cost in this work. She profiles John Bassett III, a determined owner who fought back against the foreign onslaught - both by filing anti-dumping charges with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese firms and by making his own company more competitive.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Ed Richardson (lead)                         Carry Smith
                                        Mirari Elcoro                                         Mia Merlin
                                        Wendy Wolfe                                        Jane Wong

Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty

James Lang

Nearly three-quarters of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today’s students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. His provocative new research indicates that students often cheat because their learning environments give them ample incentives to try - and that strategies which make cheating less worthwhile also improve student learning. Cheating Lessons is a practical guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots. Courses that set the stakes of performance very high, rely on single assessment mechanisms like multiple-choice tests, and have arbitrary grading criteria are found to breed cheating. Lang seeks to empower teachers to create more effective learning environments that foster intrinsic motivation, promote mastery, and instill the sense of self-efficacy that students need for deep learning.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Felicity Turner (lead)                           Cristina Rodriguez Carretero
                                        Tricia Brown                                         Maliece Whatley
                                        Annie Mendenhall                               Nedra Cossa     
                                        Carry Smith

Education and Its Discontents: Teaching, the Humanities, and the Importance of a Liberal Arts Education in the Age of Mass Information

Mark Moss

This work is an exploration of how the traditional educational environment, particularly in the post-secondary world, is changing as a consequence of the influx of new technology. Students come to the classroom or lecture hall expecting to have their habits and tastes, gleaned from the online world, replicated in an Educational environment. Faculty who do not adapt face enormous obstacles, and faculty that do adapt run the risk of eroding the integrity of what they have been trained to teach. Issues that run from plagiarism to the erosion of the humanities are now rampant concerns in the post-secondary world. Moss discusses that it is now not only how we learn, but what we continue to teach, and how that enormously important legacy is protected.

Participating Faculty:
                                        Teresa Winterhalter                         Katherine Gilbert
                                        Dave Lake                                         Ellie Vasquez-De la Pena
                                        Becky da Cruz                                   Lesley Clack


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