2024-2025 Faculty Working Groups

The Center for Social Science Scholarship encourages and supports new and continuing Faculty Working Groups to promote intellectual exchange in the social sciences and across campus. These collaborative scholarly learning communities meet regularly to engage in such activities as: working on research projects, reading key literature, exploring new methodological approaches, and/or engaging in matters of public interest related to the social sciences, across campus, or with community partners. Questions may be directed to Eric Stokan, our associate director.

2024-2025 CS3 Working Groups

“Fostering Pedagogies that Engage and Support Transfer Students”

This group began as a 2021-2022 Faculty Learning Community (FLC), and became a 2022-2023 CS3 Faculty Working Group.  As an FLC members sought to explore the following questions: Transfer has been framed as a social justice and equity issue. How might that classification shape our pedagogical practices in the classroom? Recognizing the heterogeneity of transfer students, how can we  leverage their strengths and support their areas of growth?  Though transfer issues are often considered to be the domain of admissions, advising or student affairs, what are our roles and responsibilities as instructors to engage and support transfer students? Taking into account the interests and questions of our group, we  explore and discuss best pedagogical practices across different disciplines and consider what it means as faculty members to approach transfer from an equity/social justice perspective.  During the FLC this group collected pilot data from students in our classes about those faculty level practices that foster transfer student inclusion and self-efficacy in the classroom.

We have explored this question from multiple perspectives. We explored the limited available literature. We held a listening session with transfer students. We invited a nationally recognized speaker on the topic, Xueli Wang, to meet with us to discuss our process. We each read one of two books- Xueli’s Book, On My Own: The Challenge and Promise of Building Equitable STEM Transfer Pathways, or Power to the Transfer.

This academic year we plan to finalize survey questions and obtain IRB approval, survey students in UNIV301 courses, analyze the data and select classroom practices to investigate, implement SoTL plan, and eventually present our findings.

Interested persons should contact facilitators Nancy Kusmaul (Social Work) or Sarah Jewett (Provost’s Office) for more information.

“Seeing White: an Exploration of Institutional and Structural Racism in Higher Education”

This group is a continuation of a CS3 Faculty Working Group, which originally began as a 2019 – 2020 Faculty Learning Community called “Seeing White: The Influence of Structural & Institutional Racism on Teaching & Learning in Higher Education.”  Due to the overwhelming interest of faculty and staff in this topic, there were two FLCs, with 14 members. These FLCs relied on the Seeing White* podcast by John Biewen and Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika. Following the podcast’s structure, we discussed and researched the privilege of whiteness as it influences practices and structures in higher education.

Race issues remain important to faculty and staff in institutions of higher education in
general and at UMBC in particular. Structural and institutional racism interact with our
subject matter, our students’ experiences, and the entire enterprise of higher education.
Questions explored included: How can we integrate learning content about the
institutional and structural racism intrinsic to our disciplines? How do racist institutions
affect our students’ lives and learning experiences at UMBC? How does UMBC, as a
societal institution, perpetuate or mitigate race-based oppression or discrimination?
How can we work toward racial justice within and beyond our institution? Deliverables
included plans for course projects or a series of classroom activities to address
institutional and structural race issues.

The goal of this project is to engage in the initial steps to create change in our institution
of higher education, UMBC, around the privilege of Whiteness. We decided to
create a UMBC library research guide of materials that educators and administrators
could consult to enrich their teaching and engagement with students.  In order to share this product with the UMBC community, plans are underway to sponsor and organize an event for UMBC faculty, staff, administrators, and students demonstrating the use and application of the library guide. The launch event is in collaboration with the Faculty Development Center and tentatively scheduled for January 2025.

Interested persons should contact facilitators Nicki Belfiore (Social Work) and Fernando Vonhoff (Biology).