Pre-conference workshop #1

The SoTL Commons: Cultivating a SoTL Culture on Your Campus and Beyond

Presented by: Brian Smentkowski, Laura Cruz and Balbir Gurm

Room: Nina – Level 3

Time: Wednesday, 09.00-11.45


Abstract: Whether building, sustaining, or growing a SoTL culture on your campus, this session will provide novice and experienced scholars and leaders alike with an inventory of strategies designed to enhance your impact and transform institutional culture. This inventory is drawn from the collective work of project team members Mary Huber, Pat Hutchings, Balbir Gurm, Teresa Johnson, Laura Cruz, and Brian Smentkowski, whose current research spans 20 years of building SoTL communities. This interactive session will explore the interests, obstacles, and unifying environmental factors associated with building community and changing culture to support the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Our goal is to provide a framework for building, supporting, and studying SoTL culture within and across institutional contexts and to help you chart your own course to a flourishing SoTL culture. Through a series of collaborative exercises drawn from recent research in systems thinking, social network analysis and organizational development, you will work collaboratively with others to enhance your role as an agent of organizational change and to create a personalized blueprint for strengthening SoTL on and beyond your campus.


Brian Smentkowski is Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Director of Service Learning, and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Idaho (US). He has published and presented extensively in the fields of educational development, SoTL, and political science and presently serves as Editor of To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development. From 2006-2009 he was a member of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’s Building SoTL Communities cluster, and continues to develop, write, consult, and present on strategies to build sustainable SoTL communities.

Laura Cruz (Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 2001) most recently served as the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at both Tennessee Technological University and Western Carolina University. She has held multiple leadership positions in the field of educational development, including a term on the national board (called Core) for faculty developers and as editor of To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development. Her publications include work in her first discipline (history) as well as the areas of instructional design, educational development, educational technology, and organizational change in higher education. She has been a frequent keynote and invited speaker in the areas of educational technology, course/curriculum design, and the Boyer model of scholarship.

Balbir Gurm, RN, BSN, MA, EdD is an award winning educator in the Faculty of Health at KwantlenPolytechnic University, the founding editor-in-chief of Transformative Dialogues: Teaching and Learning Journal (, founding member and facilitator of the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR), an Education Developer and a Diversity and Organizational Change consultant. Dr. Gurm is interested in how policies and culture impact organizational and societal practices and how academic knowledge is used to solve complex issues. Through sitting on a variety of boards and committees she takes academic knowledge and translates it to actions to improve communities. She has written about different ways of knowing and conducted teaching/learning studies and presented them at local and international conferences. Since 2002, she has facilitated reading circles, written collective bargaining language, organized brown bag lunches helped define SoTL, founded an international journal on teaching and learning and conducted workshops to create a SoTL community.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email