Center for Teaching Excellence

Spring 2024 Book Discussion Groups

Each semester the CTE selects several books on topics related to teaching and learning, diversity, and higher education. Book discussion groups meet regularly throughout the semester (approximately 5-8 times, depending on the length of the book). View past book selections 

Spring 2024 Book Discussion Groups

The CTE will host three book discussion groups this semester. Groups will meet at the same day and time throughout the semester, and discussions will last for about an hour. The first meeting date is listed, and each facilitator and group will determine the frequency and reading schedule of their remaining meetings. Groups will meet in the CTE Stinson Lounge unless otherwise noted. 

Sign up form is at the end of the page

Braiding Sweetgrass

Author: Robin Kimmerer

Facilitator: Kathleen Smythe

Meeting time: Tuesdays 2:30-3:30 pm, Beginning date January 16, 2024


This book group will explore Braiding Sweetgrass, a collection of essays by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Potawatomi woman and biologist. During her fall visit, CTE keynote speaker Mays Imad recommended Braiding Sweetgrass as exploring indigenous wisdom of plants and ecology as ways of knowing that can inform, enhance, and deepen more professionalized ways of knowing in higher education.  Co-sponsored with the Laudato Si initiative.

The Liberating Arts: Why We Need Liberal Arts Education

Author: Jeffrey Bilbro, Jessica Hooten Wilson, David Henreckson

Facilitator: Eric Bucher

Meeting time: Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 pm, beginning date January 17, 2024

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Why would anyone study the liberal arts? It’s no secret that the liberal arts have fallen out of favor and are struggling to prove their relevance. The cost of college pushes students to majors and degrees with more obvious career outcomes.

A new cohort of educators isn’t taking this lying down. They realize they need to reimagine and rearticulate what a liberal arts education is for, and what it might look like in today’s world. In this book, they make an honest reckoning with the history and current state of the liberal arts. In this book the editors elicit prospectives from a variety of liberal arts educators sharing their experiences in creating a valuable liberal arts education.

Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color

Author: Lorgia García-Peña

Facilitator: Nykara Brown

Meeting time: Thursdays 1:00-2:00 pm, Beginning date January 18, 2024

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Weaving personal narrative with political analysis, Community as Rebellion offers a meditation on creating liberatory spaces for students and faculty of color within academia.  Much like other women scholars of color, Lorgia García Peña has struggled against the colonizing, racializing, classist, and unequal structures that perpetuate systemic violence within universities. Through personal experiences and analytical reflections, the author invites readers—in particular Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian women—to engage in liberatory practices of boycott, abolition, and radical community-building to combat the academic world’s tokenizing and exploitative structures.

García Peña argues that the classroom is key to freedom-making in the university, urging teachers to consider activism and social justice as central to what she calls “teaching in freedom”: a progressive form of collective learning that prioritizes the subjugated knowledge, silenced histories, and epistemologies from the Global South and Indigenous, Black, and brown communities. By teaching in and for freedom, we not only acknowledge the harm that the university has inflicted on our persons and our ways of knowing since its inception, but also create alternative ways to be, create, live, and succeed through our work.

 Sign up for Spring 2024 Book Discussion Group