Promoting the Shared Skills and Values of the Discipline
Inspired by the American Historical Association’s Tuning Project, Tuning the Classics seeks to bring together classicists, and those teaching aspects of the classical world in other disciplines, in order to develop a common (and compelling) language around the competencies and skills learned in the field.
Through shared dialogue, the collation of data across numerous small departments, and the construction of classroom activities designed to assess and communicate the outcomes of competencies in the classics, faculty will be better equipped to promote the visibility and popularity of the field, and especially to help students understand and articulate the value of their new skills.
Such “tuning,” as this process has been labeled, is not only critical to the field of classics, but to the promotion of the humanities and liberal arts, which have recently struggled to “sell” their value in national dialogue about education.
Tuning the Classics
- Workshop on August 14-15, 2017 — Agenda, reading assignments, and participants
- Project information — Overview, Goals, and Activities
Tuning the Classics: Promoting the Shared Skills and Values of the Discipline
August 14–15, 2017
ACM office, Chicago, IL
Sunday, August 13
6:30 p.m. — Unofficial meet and greet dinner (Location TBD)
Monday, August 14
8:00-9:00 a.m. — Breakfast at ACM office, includes introduction of participants and vision of project
Morning theme: Outcomes in Classics (full group discussion)
9:00-10:15 — Group discussion on outcomes and competencies
(1) How can we teach courses that interact with the contemporary world and social issues? And is there a way to teach courses in translation ‘rigorously’ that keep pulling the past into a relevance to the present/future? To some extent, this is also a question about how we can adapt to changing demographics of undergraduate enrollees.
(2): Relating content to skills: how is the focus on the ancient world crucial to the competencies we aspire to for our students (i.e. what do classics majors get that other language/culture majors don’t?).
10:15-10:30 — Break
10:30-Noon — Competencies
(1) What does ‘depth’ look like in our students’ studies of their Classics major?
- Especially for students who are not specializing in language study but are taking most of their major courses as courses in translation?
- How do we all teach “advanced” or research-focused courses in translation?
(2) Language courses: in what ways do studying Latin and Greek provide advantages over other Classical Studies courses and other foreign languages
(3) Majors vs. non-majors: levels of competency
Noon-1:00 p.m. — Lunch at ACM in small groups to create list of competencies in Classics
1:00-2:00 — Whole group discussion/sharing of competency lists
Afternoon theme: Marketing the Classics
2:00-3:15 — Marketing strategies (small groups)
(1): how do we market our courses on our own campuses? (e.g. ways that Classics courses fulfill needs in other departments/programs/majors)
(2): how can we market Classics to prospective students and parents?
(3) How do we keep/recruit those students taking Classical studies courses as gen eds or just to dabble
3:15-3:30 — Break
3:30-4:15 — Group discussion/sharing of marketing strategies
4:15-5:00 — Thinking outside the box: other ideas for sustaining/promoting Classics
6:00 — Group dinner (location TBA)
Tuesday, August 15
8:00-8:45 a.m. — Breakfast at ACM
Morning theme: Creation of Materials to Move forward
8:45-10:00 — Logistics of how to tap and collate alumni who have received Classical Studies degrees
- Brainstorming questions for survey
- Discussion of how to tap the largest number of Classics grads
- How/if do we differentiate majors and non-majors
10:00-10:15 — Break
10:15-11:30 — Small Group discussion of materials/assignments to be created for distribution, possibly including:
- Publicity materials/methods
- Community outreach activities
- Course assignments
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Concluding Discussion, plan for work on home campuses
12:30-1:30 — Lunch
1:30 — Departure of participants
Reading assignments for participants to complete before the workshop.
- Learning outcomes from 18 institutions collected by Michael Arnush: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9uL0ZM5pmjocURkS1lFWVBCOXM
- Please bring (if applicable) departmental outcomes for Classics and Classics-related fields (ie history, anthropology, art history)
- Analysis of polled grads on experience in college leading to success later: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/170576/higher-education-six-sigma.aspx?utm_source=email-a-friend&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sharing&utm_content=morelink
- Recent blog post by Neville Morley at https://thesphinxblog.com/2017/07/07/proper-classics/ on Classics beyond languages
- Article on marketing classics, with links: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/career-transitions/201003/branding-and-marketing-the-classics-major
- “Fragile, Handle with Care: On White Classicists” https://eidolon.pub/fragile-handle-with-care-66848145cf29
- Jason Pedicone’s article “Ne Plus Ultra: Classics Beyond the Tenure Track” (https://eidolon.pub/ne-plus-ultra-classics-beyond-the-tenure-track-1504c555f20b). Although Pedicone is addressing grad programs, much of what he says points to ways of thinking about defining the discipline(s) that comprise classical studies. (John)
- ACTFL’s web page aggregating studies supporting the benefits of learning a second language: https://www.actfl.org/advocacy/what-the-research-shows
Other Useful Documents
- AHA “Tuning the History” Mission: https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/tuning-the-history-discipline/2016-history-discipline-core
- AAU&C Learning Outcomes: https://www.aacu.org/leap/essential-learning-outcomes
Beloit College – Lisl Walsh, Associate Professor of Classics
Carleton College – Clara Hardy, Professor of Classics, Chair of Classics, John E. Sawyer Professor of Liberal Learning
Coe College – Angela Ziskowski, Associate Professor of History
Colorado College – Sanjaya Thakur, Associate Professor of Classics, Chair of Classics
Cornell College – John Gruber-Miller, Professor of Classics, Edwin R. and Mary E. Mason Professor of Languages
Grinnell College – Monessa Cummins, Associate Professor of Classics, Chair of Classics
Knox College – Hilary Lehmann, Assistant Professor of Classics
Lake Forest College – Richard Fisher, Associate Professor of German, Chair of Classical Studies
Lawrence University – Adriana Brook, Assistant Professor of Classics
Luther College – Dan Davis, Assistant Professor of Classics
Macalester College – Brian Lush, Associate Professor of Classics
Monmouth College – Robert Simmons, Assistant Professor of Classics, Chair of Classics
St. Olaf College – Hilary Bouxsein, Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics
The humanities in general face a raft of challenges from students and their parents who feel pressured to see the value of an undergraduate major purely in terms of its “return on investment.”
Classics in particular is a field that is not well-understood (“Do you study Beethoven? Dickens? Austen?”), and not always contained in one department or discipline. Our majors fall in love with the ancient world, but often struggle to articulate to themselves and to others (e.g., prospective employers or parents) exactly the skills, training, and qualities provided by their work in Latin, Greek or Classical Civilizations.
ACM professors who teach classical studies will combat this situation with our Tuning the Classics project. We will develop a common repository of resources — from general promotional materials to individual course assignments — aimed at helping students understand and articulate the value of the competencies they are achieving through their study of the ancient world. These materials will also prove valuable for facilitating program-level assessment of individual colleges’ classics learning outcomes.
To build this resource library we will bring faculty together from a range of institutions, to articulate both a common set of competencies associated with an undergraduate degree in Classics and to develop common language to promote their value for students’ personal, professional, and civic lives. Additional data will be provided by a survey of classics alumni showing what paths they have taken and how their classics education applies to their current lives.