Conferences | CIEL Winter Update

From: Noah Coburn <>
Date: Jan 19, 2021, 11:44 AM -0800

Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning

Winter Update

January 2021

Happy New Year and I’m pleased to share several announcements from CIEL:

Annual Conference:

As announced earlier this fall: CIEL is excited to announce, in conjunction with EcoLeague, its annual conference, this year held virtually and hosted by Prescott College. The conference will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 16-17th, 2021. The theme of this year’s conference is Teaching and Learning in Equitable Environments. An announcement about registration will come out soon.

We are still looking in particular for faculty and students interested in providing brief presentations related to the theme on April 16. It’s a great opportunity particularly for students to gain experience and we have several panels already with space on them. Ideally we’d have a range of schools represented on each, so if you could circulate this message among interested students and faculty, we would appreciate it. Even if you don’t have a firm idea, we’re happy to discuss further, so please feel free to email Erin ( ) or Noah ( and we can potentially connect you with others working in a similar area.

The program on April 17 is more set and features some interesting conversations around how CEIL schools and friends are innovating and responding to this particular moment in time. We look forward to seeing many of you there for those discussions.


If you are attending this year’s virtual AAC&U meeting, don’t forget to join CIEL’s roundtable entitled, ‘Responding to the Current Crises with Longer-Term Teaching and Learning Strategies.’ The panel is at 10 am ET, Thursday January 21, featuring James Hall from RIT, Erin Lotz from Prescott, Laura Wenk from Hampshire, Tim Seiber from the University of Redlands and Noah Coburn from Bennington College.

During the current crisis, there is a tendency to respond quickly to short-term issues, but to what extent, by thinking collaboratively, can schools work to make sure that their pedagogical responses also have significant longer-term impacts? This roundtable reviews a collaborative process by schools in the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning, including Prescott College, the Johnston Center at the University of Redlands, RIT’s School of Individualized Study, Hampshire College, and Bennington College, to support equity and relational pedagogies through strategic short-term decisions that are aimed at having longer-term impacts.

Reimagining Higher Ed:

Ryan Derby-Talbot, formerly of CIEL member Quest, has recently launched an initiative called Reimagining Higher Ed. The goal of the organization is to support colleges and universities in innovation. As part of the work, Ryan is aiming to feature institutions that have undertaken innovation successfully, making CIEL institutions a natural group to showcase. For example, Ryan is organizing an upcoming webinar on Experiential Education featuring CIEL institutions who have established effective programs in this vein. He is interested in what else he can showcase from CIEL members, to help provide the higher education world with much needed examples, as well as cast CIEL as a leading group in the realm of innovation. He is currently at work on a podcast series on innovation in higher ed, and is planning to facilitate further panels and webinars. If you have ideas about what your institution (or others) might showcase around innovation, please reach out to him directly:

Open Position at Fairhaven:

“Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University seeks a Dean who has experience as a visionary leader with keen insight and a track record of inspiring others, and fostering innovation, and valuing diversity.” More information can be found here.

Joint Recruiting Efforts:

On January 20, CIEL is hosting a joint recruiting event aimed primarily at high school students interested in west coast and mountain schools. David White at Prescott College is hosting the event, which starts with a brief overview of CIEL and our various innovative approaches to higher ed, and then allows each participant to highlight some of what makes them unique. Participants include Prescott College, Westminster College, The Evergreen State College, University of Redlands and Quest University. If you are interested in participating in future recruiting events – we have been considering running a similar east coast event – please let Noah know.

Noah Coburn

Socio-Cultural Anthropologist

Associate Dean for Curriculum and Pedagogy, Bennington College

Director, Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL)

Working Remotely

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