FRN 2020 National Symposium

Faculty Resource Network

An academic partnership devoted to faculty development. Now in our fourth decade, we remain committed to this partnership, and to fostering connection, collaboration, and collegiality among our members.

Virtual 2020 National Symposium

Curriculum Innovation for Transformative Learning

When: Thursday, November 19, 2020 (Welcome and Symposium Kick-off)
              Friday, November 20, 2020 (panels, presentations, and posters)

*Where: EVERYWHERE! The symposium will be delivered remotely.

*Please note, the location for FRN National Symposium has been moved to a digital/virtual space due to COVID19 and COVID19 concerns and best practices.


Curriculum Innovation for
Transformative Learning


Symposium Description

Today’s colleges and universities have a responsibility to prepare students to enter and thrive in a complex, multifaceted, globalized society. What curriculum innovations do we need to enact at our institutions to prepare our students for success after graduation? One increasingly pervasive societal trend is the growing impact of data science on our lives. Every website visit and social media post can be tracked and mined for commercial or political advantage. Personalized DNA testing has created a new trove of genetic data that can be used for tracing our biological ancestry or cracking unsolved crimes. Data science has the potential to reduce inefficiencies, boost economic growth, and create new job opportunities. Yet these advantages must be balanced against the potential costs of sacrificing our privacy in the pursuit of technological advancement. What type of curriculum reform will help our students understand and adapt to the rapid changes in our data-driven world?

Climate change is another contemporary challenge that transcends geographical and disciplinary boundaries. According to a September 2019 survey, more than 7 in 10 teenagers and young adults believe that climate change will cause harm to people in their generation. Frustrated by the slow progress of legislative change, an increasing number of youth are taking action to bring attention to the earth’s changing climate. Yet the same survey reveals a decrease in the number of teenagers who report learning about climate change in school. How can colleges and universities respond to this educational need by providing climate literacy across the curriculum?

These examples illustrate suggest that the curriculum of the future needs to embrace interdisciplinary innovations. Yet our colleges and universities are still based on a 19th century model of academic departments and majors, which determine faculty appointments and the granting of degrees. These departmental constraints often can impede the intellectual flexibility required to address 21st-century concerns. Key educational benefits can arise from enlarging our perspectives. The STEM disciplines are embracing the arts to become STEAM. The literature curriculum has expanded beyond the Western canon to incorporate global perspectives from more diverse authors, together with insights from cultural studies. What other curriculum changes can we imagine that stretch beyond the traditional disciplines of the academy?

Curriculum innovations are not an end in themselves; their ultimate goal is to help students learn. With advances in neuroscience and psychology, we are gaining greater insight into how students learn and what can be done to make learning “stick.” The new brain science has reinforced what all good teachers know—that meaningful learning happens when students are actively engaged in critical and creative thinking coupled with thoughtful reflection and regular review. This convergence of research and practice provides us with the impetus to reexamine our course curricula and ask ourselves whether our lessons and activities prioritize student learning. What principles and practices of curriculum design can we employ to enable the students in our classes to become independent, life-long learners?

We hope you will join us in for an exploration of curriculum innovation.

Below are tentative symposium topics organized into three broad categories.

Critical and Creative Thinking

  • Promoting critical and creative thinking through reading and writing
  • Lesson design for active learning
  • Research on active learning (from neuroscience, cognitive science, sociology)
  • News media as a pedagogical tool
  • Using case studies (written and video)
  • Debate in the classroom
  • Role-playing techniques

Using Technology to Promote Active Learning

  • Using the flipped classroom
  • Creating collaborations between faculty members and educational technology specialists
  • Utilizing mobile devices and apps in the classroom
  • Using social media to create a learning community
  • Creating multimedia projects (websites, videos, podcasts, etc.)
  • Designing and evaluating data visualizations
  • Exploring maker spaces as sites of innovation

Social Dimensions of Active Learning

  • Active learning and student success
  • Diversity and creative thinking
  • Experiential and service learning
  • Developing cultural competencies
  • Promoting collaboration in the classroom
  • Developing entrepreneurship
  • Developing lifelong, transferable skills through active learning
  • Assessing active learning and group work

Want more information about the symposium? Email us at

Previous National Symposia


  • 2020 National Symposium: "Curriculum Innovation for Transformative Learning"
  • 2019 National Symposium: "Critical Conversations and the Academy"
  • 2018 National Symposium: "Transforming Teaching Through Active Learning"
  • 2017 National Symposium: "Engaging With Diversity in the College Classroom"
  • 2016 National Symposium: "Teaching a New Generation of Students"
  • 2015 National Symposium: "Advancing Social Justice From Classroom to Community"
  • 2014 National Symposium: "The Global Imperative for Higher Education"
  • 2013 National Symposium: "Reinventing Liberal Education"
  • 2012 National Symposium: "New Faces, New Expectations"
  • 2011 National Symposium: "Emerging Pedagogies for the New Millennium"
  • 2010 National Symposium: "Engaging Students in the Community and the World"
  • 2009 National Symposium: "Challenge as Opportunity: The Academy in the Best and Worst of Times"
  • 2008 National Symposium: "Defining and Promoting Student Success"
  • 2007 National Symposium: "Advancing Women and the Underrepresented in the Academy"
  • 2006 National Symposium: "The Millennial Student"
  • 2005 National Symposium: "Spirituality and Higher Education"
  • 2004 National Symposium: "Beyond Brown vs. Board of Education: Diversity and Higher Education"
  • 2003 National Symposium: "Approaching Assessment: The Road Ahead"
  • 2002 National Symposium: "Being a Professor..."
  • 2000 National Symposium: "The Future of Liberal Arts Education"
  • 1999 National Symposium: "The Teaching and Learning Continuum"