Faculty Development

Vassar faculty are passionate educators and mentors who are invested in growing and expanding our capacities for inclusive and equitable teaching. The Grand Challenges program is committed to helping faculty work towards Inclusive Excellence. We provide support for faculty to assess their teaching and mentoring practices and to address systemic inequities and marginalizing practices. Activities include opportunities for bringing faculty together in faculty learning communities, bringing faculty together with students through the Student Catalyst and STEPP programs, and bringing faculty together in immersive and sustained workshops with expert facilitators (such as IDEAL and VISIONS).

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Graphic representation of The Grand Challenges objectives and timeline.


Inclusive Excellence Summer Institute (June 14–18, 2021)

More than a year into this pandemic, we all could use a reminder to be more patient with ourselves and with each other. Things are certainly not normal these days. Let’s take this opportunity of uncertainty and turmoil to engage in a fruitful process of introspection followed by a powerful reimagining of our shared community.

The Summer Inclusive Excellence Institute will help faculty, staff, and administrators redesign learning spaces and experiences to engage and support all students, in part by looking inward and working to understand how issues of identity, race, and status affect all members of the community. Participants in this Institute will receive a $1000 stipend to participate in a five-day training (June 14–18) designed to build communal practices that empower individuals to become agents of change around issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.

The training will be facilitated by the Science Museum of Minnesota’s IDEAL Center. IDEAL comes highly recommended by colleagues at peer liberal arts colleges who have participated in one of their institutes. The following is a reflection from a recent participant:

I’ve learned a lot more about how to see, as a colleague pointed out, the systems that benefit me as clearly as I see those that harm me. I’ve also become aware that all of us are in different places but we are still going on the same journey together—and there is power and potential for positive change in our working together. And I’m thinking about the things I can do to incorporate many of the practices learned here in the “how” of my work in order to enact equity and inclusion in our spaces.

Learn more information on the impacts of the IDEAL institute at Wellesley College.

If you have any questions about this Summer Inclusive Excellence Institute, please reach out to us at: grandchallenges@vassar.edu.


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A History of Grand Challenges Faculty Development

In the 2019–2020 year, the Grand Challenges program provided a diversity of opportunities for faculty to engage in research and training on culturally responsive pedagogical methods designed to foster inclusive learning environments and to develop a sense of community among students.

  1. An intensive summer workshop for 38 faculty on diversity, equity, and inclusion in June 2019, facilitated through VISIONS, Inc. VISIONS, Inc. is a non-profit training and consulting organization with more than 25 years of experience working in this field.
  2. Inclusive excellence study groups: All of the faculty members who participated in the VISIONS training workshop worked in small learning community working groups throughout the academic year, discussing their experiences applying concepts introduced during the VISIONS workshops to their teaching and mentoring.
  3. Action Projects: Members of the study groups projects to experiment with pedagogical techniques, and to gauge the impact of those changes in their classrooms and laboratories. In these projects, faculty observed their own teaching and classroom dynamics, identified an area they would like to change, design an intervention, and evaluated its impact.
  4. Supplemental workshops and discussions offered throughout the academic year: These events provided faculty with the support they need to translate research on diversity, equity, and inclusion, into learning experiences that will challenge, motivate, and engage their students.