2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 272-13
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


TAYLOR, Zachary P., Environmental Science Program, Berry College, PO BOX 45004, MOUNT BERRY, GA 30149, ztaylor@berry.edu

Faculty members at liberal arts colleges face a unique set of challenges. Like their colleagues at larger institutions, faculty members are evaluated on their teaching, research, and service, but these components are valued and assessed much differently at liberal arts colleges. PhD students and other early-career geoscientists need to recognize and understand these differences before applying to positions at liberal arts institutions. This presentation seeks to provide an overview of the responsibilities of a faculty member at a liberal arts college, with a specific focus on the balance between teaching and scholarship. The most important difference between larger, research-focused universities and liberal arts colleges is that the primary mission of liberal arts schools is undergraduate learning and development. As a result, the largest component of a faculty member’s job is teaching. At most liberal arts colleges, the teaching load is the equivalent of three or four courses per semester. Furthermore, faculty members are expected to demonstrate student engagement with course material, continual improvement in course design, and active support of student learning. Teaching responsibilities often extend beyond the classroom and working with students on an individual basis is common. In addition to teaching, faculty members need to have an active research program that results in peer-reviewed publications. However, in keeping with the primary mission of a liberal arts institution, it is critical that faculty research integrates undergraduates. Perhaps the biggest key, and challenge, for faculty members at liberal arts colleges is balancing the competing priorities of high-quality teaching and a dynamic research agenda. Applicants for positions at liberal arts colleges need to be aware of these often competing expectations and be prepared with strategies to succeed as teachers and researchers.