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Thriving in Academia

In January I debuted a new workshop that is based on my years of working in higher education, in both faculty development and academic administration. I called the workshop, “Thriving at Work: how you can improve the campus workplace for yourself and others,” and I am now developing a version called "Thriving in Academia."

Both workshops use some of the philosophy of positive organizational development, itself an off-shoot of positive psychology. As I told the participants in January, I am not an expert in this field, just a devotee. (You can learn more about positive organizational development from the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan.)

I developed the workshop after seeing a post on the POD listserv that asked for someone to facilitate a discussion among faculty “about their role in building a productive and inclusive work climate and culture.” This resonated with me. In my last dean position I was on a team that created a leadership development program for faculty that had a goal of building open and productive relationships across departments, and at all levels, to bring positive change. 

That program comprised a week-long seminar and monthly sessions across the following semester. Try getting that across in a two-hour workshop. (We published an article about the program in the Journal of Faculty Development.)

I was able to bring some of the most useful elements of the program to the January workshop, starting with an exercise in which the participants create a “high-quality connection” with someone they don't know well. In one minute. (Get the description of the exercise as a PDF.) 

The workshop also used the college’s own mission statement to help faculty find their place in the institution’s purpose and envision how to thrive in their work lives. Faculty don’t always see the campus as a “workplace,” one that they have the opportunity and responsibility to help shape. But in this workshop, we discuss the aspects of campus life that they can influence through their relationships and their attitudes. 

Faculty who see themselves as teachers want to make a difference in their students’ lives, but they can also make a difference in the lives of their colleagues, fellow teachers, other staff, and college leadership. I heard a lot of stories about how individuals are making a difference in the workplace for themselves and others. It was truly inspiring. And I know these faculty will be continuing the conversations in the months to come. 

To learn more about this workshop and what I can do for your faculty or institution, contact me.

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