The University of Iowa has seen an uptick in the number of faculty members attending and presenting at national teaching conferences sponsored by professional organizations representing both their disciplines and higher education in general.

Last month, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Cornelia Lang and CfT Teaching and Learning Specialist Anna Flaming presented about The University of Iowa’s distinctive Big Ideas courses at the American Association of Colleges & University’s General Education conference. Kathy Hall, Senior Director of Curriculum & Academic Policy for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, also attended the conference.

“As a faculty member,” Lang says, “it was particularly satisfying to meet colleagues from other campuses who are engaged in similar projects related to their general education core courses and to learn from their experiences and outlooks.”

As part of the “Design Thinking” conference theme, Lang and Flaming collaborated with the AAC&U to develop a featured “real-time design” session format. Their session—referenced by three plenary speakers and the AAC&U Vice President—highlighted the success of the team-taught, interdisciplinary, active learning general education Big Ideas courses at Iowa. Conference participants from an array of institutional contexts shared ideas and questions and explored how they might adapt the Big Ideas concept to their own campuses.

“It was incredibly useful to present an interactive design thinking session about our Big Ideas courses,” Lang says. “There was significant interest in how we organize and develop the Big Ideas courses by faculty and administrators from other campuses. Anna and I learned so much during these exchanges and a number of colleagues from other universities expressed strong interest in connecting with us in the near future.”