Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Forgotten Fields
A similar situation exists in physics. Although I am not the only full-time physics professor at my college, smaller colleges are sometimes lucky to have one, or even half of one. (Typical examples are math and physics or chemistry and physics, like your history and political science example.) However, even though we do talk a lot about new teaching approaches at my college, we don't just talk among ourselves because, to borrow your phrase, "many of the same issues" we face show up in chemistry classes and upper-level math classes. We learn a lot from each other and sometimes find a way to reinforce what the others are doing.
One thing that seems different between physics and the fields you mention is that the national meetings about education in physics are mostly about undergrad education, and the undergrad focus is on courses taught at both universities and community colleges. From what I gather from what I read in IHE and in blog world, what happens with the AAPT (meetings and a journal) and the APS education committee is more like the AMATYC than the MLA even though it addresses physics majors as well as the pipeline they have to get through. Is this because the tenured faculty at the MLA are not as involved in teaching intro classes as you see in physics departments? It might help, in our case, that the AAPT has had a journal devoted to undergrad teaching going back to Sputnik days.
NJ isn't so big that you couldn't commandeer a bar or three within a reasonable driving distance of groups of colleges, and maybe one that also serves decent food.
NACADA (the advisors association) has regional conferences, not always drivable but on a rotation such that one in three is.
In my own practice one of the most successful events I have helped with was when we extended invites to local high school teachers to chat with the faculty in their discipline. As organizer, I mostly sent out invites, collected registrations, booked rooms, figured out lunch and then got out of the way. The format was rather informal, but all who participated left feeling it was among the best PD they'd been to in a while. The same could be done between the local flagship and CCs.
Also in BC, the provincial government has an agency to manage articulations. This agency hosts an annual meeting of each discipline. For the CC folks, they get to chat with each other and build local networks while they sort out the challenges in the articulation system. This one costs money, but mostly in travel because the province is so vast. Each college takes a turn to host and buy lunch. While mandated by government to hold the meetings, the meetings themselves are organized and led by a rotating chair from a college.