The History and Evolution of the Faculty Think Tank
Scholars Studio and the Faculty Think Tank were launched in 2010 with seed money and support from the Walmart Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The sister programs were originally designed to transform teaching and learning. Scholars Studio offered learning communities for first-year students while the Faculty Think Tank was a space for pedagogical exploration. In practice, maintaining the two programs with limited resources presented a challenge. Consequently, running student learning communities quickly subsumed the work of the Think Tank. Scholars Studio has had a decade’s worth of success offering communities that have undertaken issues as varied as mindfulness and mass incarceration; however, there are a lot of untapped opportunities in terms of the pedagogical exploration.
Fast forward to 2021: as Bowie State University charts a bold new course, we have re-envisioned Scholars Studio and the Faculty Think Tank to ensure that their mission aligns with the University’s goals and, just as importantly, they are providing added value to students and the higher education community at large. To begin this process, we revisited the programs’ original goals and affirmed that deep, pedagogical work is more important now than ever, but also acknowledged that accomplishing these goals within the framework of a single semester in Scholars Studio is challenging. Moving forward, we will continue to provide faculty with a supportive interdisciplinary community while they teach in Scholars Studio; however, we will also create opportunities outside of Scholars Studio for faculty at BSU and beyond to connect with the deep, pedagogical engagement of the Faculty Think Tank.