Rigor as Inclusive Practice

Thursday, August 31, 2023, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, Inn on Boltwood

The Provost's Retreat on Teaching and Learning offers an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues before the semester begins, explore pedagogical ideas, and celebrate our teaching and learning successes. This year's theme is "Rigor as Inclusive Practice."

Rigor is a complicated concept; our definitions are informed by our own backgrounds, experiences, and training. What do we mean by rigor? Do we need to use a different term or set of terms to more transparently convey what we mean? Why does this conversation matter? On college campuses across the country, faculty, staff, and administrations are grappling with how to equitably and effectively address the student well-being crisis and disparities in students’ ability to engage in the work they are expected to do for our classes. At times, these conversations put key characteristics of an Amherst education in seeming tension. How can we maintain the compassion towards students that the Amherst College community has instituted as a result of increased awareness of systemic racism and lessons from teaching and learning through the pandemic? At the same time, is it possible, or even desirable, to work toward re-instilling pre-pandemic academic expectations? This Provost Retreat provides an opportunity for our community to engage these tensions - to unpack and refine our sense of “rigor” in order to identify pedagogical strategies and ways of being in the classroom that meet the multiple competing needs in our courses and curricula. What are our expectations for students’ intellectual engagement? Why? How do these expectations align with supporting students (and ourselves) as whole beings in the classroom? How do we redefine “rigor” as a deeply inclusive practice? How can we empower students to build on and expand their strengths and step into taking thoughtful intellectual risk? 

Provost’s Retreat Recordings

Click the titles below to watch the videos. Amherst login is required.

Catherine Epstein speaking at podium
Keynote session: Threading the needle
Ted Mason speaking at podium in front of audience
  • Ted Mason, Keynote Speaker
  • Facilitator: Ivan Contreras, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
  • Panelists: Chris Grobe, Lucia Monge, Jacob Olshanshy, Ha Dong '26, Tyra Redwood '25, Leandro Arcos Roman '24 
Panel of people seated at long table

photos from the 2022 Retreat showing attendees interacting

Schedule for the Day

8:30 - 9:00  Continental Breakfast

9:00 - 11:15  Welcome and Ted Mason Keynote 

11:15 - 12:30  Breakout Sessions

12:30 - 1:15  Lunch

1:30 - 2:45  Panel

2:45 - 4:00  Loretta Ross Keynote

4:00  Reception