Faculty who participate in CIEL have the chance to talk with colleagues within their own institution and across institutions in unusually open and honest ways about their work. With steady encouragement to use this collaborative environment creatively, faculty have begun to explore creative ways to reach across institutional boundaries, to create research and teaching opportunities with new colleagues.
Given the consortium’s mission to foster exchange and collaboration among experimenting institutions, the consortium has begun to have a legitimizing effect on experimentation because it takes place in a welcoming environment composed of respected peer institutions.
An early CIEL initiative was executing a Memorandum of Agreement that provided student and faculty exchange opportunities across all CIEL campuses. The agreement includes study abroad programs, giving student the opportunity to take courses that are not offered at their home institutions.
Faculty exchanges offer opportunities to learn first hand about the teaching practices, programs, and institutional structures of other campuses and to engage in collaboration on research interests.
“In the midst of my sabbatical, I was invited to visit Bennington as a CIEL Scholar in Residence. With the perspective of a slight pause in teaching, what came to the fore was a big question: How to proceed with our vision of offering a progressive liberal arts education to a diverse student body, one largely not familiar with our pedagogy? How do we stay committed to this without being paternalistic? How do we actively learn from and respond to our students’ input and incorporate the needs and desires they bring? This challenge is a pressing issue for the liberal arts in general."