Virtual Center for Teaching & Learning

Faculty Reading Roundtables

The Office of Faculty Development is pleased to announce the 2012-2013 Faculty Reading Roundtables.

Teaching Naked:  How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, Jose Antonio Bowen
College: What it Was, Is, and should Be
The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet, Marrhieu Ricard, Trinh Xuan Thuan
Remembrance of Things Past, Volume III, The Captive, The Fugitive, Time Regained
Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France: Reacting to the Past
Adventures Along the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France
Teaching for Critical Thinking
Smilla's Sense of Snow: A Novel

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.


Teaching Naked:  How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning

Jose Antonio Bowen

The title of this book is a bit misleading because Bowen fully embraces the idea that classroom teaching can be enhanced through artfully employing technology. At the same time, however, he maintains that we must be mindful of the ways technology is profoundly changing education. He argues that if students are going to continue to pay enormous sums for campus classes, colleges will need to provide more than what can be found online and maximize “naked” face-to-face contact with faculty. He holds that technology is most powerfully used outside the classroom and, when used effectively, it can ensure that students arrive to class more prepared for meaningful interaction with faculty.  Bowen introduces a new way to think about learning and technology that prioritizes the benefits of the human dimension in education.

College: What it Was, Is, and should Be

Andrew Delbanco (2012)

As the commercialization of American higher education accelerates, more and more students are coming to college with the narrow aim of obtaining a pre-professional credential. The traditional four-year college experience—an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers--is in danger of becoming a thing of the past. In College, prominent cultural critic Andrew Delbanco offers a trenchant defense of such an education, and warns that it is becoming a privilege reserved for the relatively rich. In arguing for what a true college education should be, he demonstrates why making it available to as many young people as possible remains central to America's democratic promise. In a brisk and vivid historical narrative, Delbanco explains how the idea of college arose in the colonial period from the Puritan idea of the gathered church, how it struggled to survive in the nineteenth century in the shadow of the new research universities, and how, in the twentieth century, it slowly opened its doors to women, minorities, and students from low-income families. He describes the unique strengths of America's colleges in our era of globalization. While recognizing the growing centrality of science, technology, and vocational subjects in the curriculum, he mounts a vigorous defense of a broadly humanistic education for all. Acknowledging the serious financial, intellectual, and ethical challenges that all colleges face today, Delbanco considers what is at stake in the urgent effort to protect these venerable institutions for future generations.

Andrew Delbanco is the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His many books include Melville: His World and Work (Vintage), which won the Lionel Trilling Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize in biography. He is a recipient of the 2011 National Humanities Medal for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.

The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet

Marrhieu Ricard, Trinh Xuan Thuan

This book offers a rich and inspiring look at a new intersection between science and religion, and it comes highly recommended by the folks who led the “this is your brain on music” group last year.  In the words of the Dalai Lama, “It contributes greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of the world and the way we live our lives.”

Remembrance of Things Past, Volume III, The Captive, The Fugitive, Time Regained

Marcel Proust

This text is the next installment for the ongoing Proust group (now in its third year!) that is not only remembering the joy of reading, but also planning its trip to Paris!


Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France: Reacting to the Past. 

Mark Carnes, Gary Kates

This reading group will explore the pedagogical possibilities for instituting Reacting to the Past as a unit or game in the College of Liberal Arts in fall of 2014 in select First Class/Core Course Learning Communities.  As schools across the country have discovered and educational experts have confirmed, * this high-impact educational practice can have a profound effect on students in many disciplines.   The Barnard program describes the curriculum at
In most classes students learn by receiving ideas and information from instructors and texts, or they discuss such materials in seminars.  “Reacting to the Past” courses employ a different pedagogy.  Students learn by taking on roles, informed by classic texts, in elaborate games set in the past; they learn skills—speaking, writing, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and universities…Together with the second author, there is now added richness through the practical implementation and practices. The ideas in this book are all tried and shown to contribute to more successful learning experience and outcome for students.

Adventures Along the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France

Kermit Lynch

Kermit Lynch is an importer of fine artisanal wines. His Adventures Along the Wine Route is a recounting of his experiences with the growers and vintners of fine wines throughout France.  He takes the reader on a tour of the wineries and wine cellars of the Loire, Bordeaux, the Languedoc, Provence, Northern and Southern Rhone, and the Cote d’Or.  His droll humor and his respect for fine wines and wine making makes this an interesting travelogue and an informative book on wine.   Robert Parker writes “Kermit Lynch’s colorful portraits of some idiosyncratic vintners, and his commentaries on their wines, make for some of the finest reading”.  Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, has said that Adventures Along the Wine Route is one of his favorite books on wine.
The proposers for this reading group suggest the following:  Meetings to discuss this book occur late in the afternoon on Thursdays or Fridays during the fall semester at an off-campus location where we can sample 4-5 of the wines discussed from each region.  At these sessions we can not only share insights gained from the book chapter under discussion, but also share insights into the wines we are sampling.  With these wines generally being $15-25 each and adding some crackers and cheeses, it is estimated that it will cost each participant approximately $20 per weekly/bi-weekly session.


Teaching for Critical Thinking

Stephen Brookfield

This book builds on Brookfield’s last three decades of experience running workshops and teaching courses on critical thinking to explore how students learn to think this way, and what teachers can do to help students develop this capacity. He outlines a basic protocol of critical thinking as a learning process that focuses on uncovering and checking assumptions, exploring alternative perspectives, and taking informed actions as a result. Written to address the broad range of disciplines, this book fosters a shared understanding of critical thinking and helps to various constituencies adapt general principles to specific disciplinary contexts.  One of the FRRs read his first book last year and is hoping to continue their earlier discussions with this next text.  You may join this group, however, even if you have not read Brookfield’s first book.

Smilla's Sense of Snow: A Novel

Peter Høeg

This book is a popular murder mystery that was made into a Hollywood film starring Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne.  It is also a reflection and at times subtle commentary on social identity and cultural difference by a Danish novelist, sometimes described as “too post modern” by his critics.  The plot involves an ecological disaster affecting the indigenous people of Greenland, cover-up and conspiracy.  The ending


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