PETAL Speaker Series

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Listen to internal and external guest speakers on topics related to teaching in higher education!


PETAL brings internal and external speakers to discuss innovative teaching and learning strategies and technologies. PETAL is also open to collaborating with other departments and academic units to bring expert speakers to the UM community on the topic of teaching and pedagogy.

Upcoming Speakers

Past Speakers

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  • Dr. Benjamin Braun, Am I Good at Math?




    Speaker: Dr. Benjamin Braun
    November 10, 2023

    Am I Actually Good at Math?: The Power of Inclusion, Beliefs, and Belonging in College-Level STEM Courses 

    Inclusive teaching practices have a profound impact on students' self-perceptions and performance in STEM disciplines. This session will engage faculty in an exploration of the ways students' beliefs about their own abilities shape their learning experiences and outcomes. By examining the interplay between fostering a sense of belonging, using authentic assessments, and cultivating growth mindsets within the context of rigorous STEM education, faculty attendees will gain practical insights to create a supportive classroom environment that empowers students to excel and thrive.

    About the Speaker

    Dr. Benjamin Braun is a Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Kentucky. His mathematical research in algebraic and geometric combinatorics has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency. He also has research interests at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, teaching and learning, and mathematics. He has published and spoken about the intersection of mathematics with active learning, using writing assignments, teaching with history, social justice, feminist critical theory, and psychology. He serves as a co-organizer of the University of Kentucky Working Group on Ethics, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in the Mathematical Sciences.


  • Dr. Henry Reichman, Academic Freedom

    poster of academic freedom session with Dr. Henry Reichman


    Speaker: Dr. Henry Reichman
    Tuesday, April 11, 2023

    Can professors teach controversial or allegedly 'divisive' concepts in class?  Do students have a right not to be offended by ideas or information conveyed in class?  These and similar questions are roiling higher education across the country, especially in Florida.  In response, professors claim the right to 'academic freedom.'  But what is academic freedom? This session will examine its application to classroom teaching and offer suggestions about how to differentiate genuine and constructive discussions of pedagogy from assaults on the freedom to teach.

    In collaboration with the School of Education and Human Development and the Faculty Senate

    View the recording of Dr. Reichman's session

    View the recording of Dr. Reichman's session

  • Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson, When Robots Learn to Write What Happens to Learning?


    Speaker: Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson
    Thursday, March 2, 2023

    Can we live, together, with robots who write? In this talk, Bill Hart-Davidson, Professor and Senior Researcher in the Writing in Digital Environments Research Center and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education at Michigan State University, will suggest some practical and ethical guidelines for the ways we might live and work, together, with robots. This talk will focus on recent accelerations in the drive to automate the writing process—particularly in digital networks and the implications of those changes for teaching and learning.

    In collaboration with the Writing Studies Department

    View the recording of Dr. Hart-Davidson's session

    View the recording of Dr. Hart-Davidson's session

  • Inclusive Teaching with Dr. Viji Sathy and Dr. Kelly Hogan (2022 Faculty Showcase)

    Cultivating Equitable Learning Environments through Inclusive Teaching

    Dr. Kelly Hogan and Dr. Viji Sathy


    An interactive keynote to explore inequities and diversity in the classroom. Participants are provided a framework around inclusive teaching and examples of how using this framework can reduce inequities. Professors Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy of the University of North Carolina will discuss and model some techniques in real time. 

    Speaker Bios

    Dr. Kelly Hogan (she/her/hers) and Dr. Viji Sathy (she/her/hers) are both award-winning instructors with a combined 25+ years in the classroom at the University of North Carolina. They are passionate about student success, equity, and inclusion in the classroom. They have expertise in inclusive techniques and active learning in any size crowd because both teach courses routinely with hundreds of students. On their campus, they lead innovative classroom and diversity administrative initiatives that benefit all students, faculty, and staff. 

    Twitter: @vijisathy @DrMrsKellyHogan #inclusiveteaching #inclusiveclassrooms

  • Susanna Calkins, Evaluating Teaching: Benefits, Boundaries, and Alternate Strategies


    Speaker: Susanna Calkins
    Tuesday, April 5, 2022

    The Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is delighted to welcome Susanna Calkins of Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching as our spring featured speaker for the PETAL Speaker Series. Dr. Calkins will discuss the history of course evaluations, and explore meaningful, inclusive, and effective approaches to evaluating teaching that have greater potential to support UM’s teaching advancement visions.

    Susanna Calkins is the Director of Faculty Initiatives at the Searle Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning at Northwestern University. She holds a doctorate and master's degree in history from Purdue University and a master's degree in education from Northwestern University.

    Before joining the Searle Center in 2003, she was an assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Her recent projects and publications have focused on inclusive teaching, conceptions of teaching, student learning and online teaching. Her teaching interests include learning and teaching in higher education, the history and philosophy of higher education, early modern history, and world history. She is a co-PI on several grants, including a multi-institutional NSF-IUSE grant focusing on creating an online course for inclusive teaching in STEM and a NRT grant to help the Center for Synthetic Biology develop an innovative graduate curriculum in synthetic biology. She is the co-author of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The Reflective Professional (Sage, 2009) and Reflective Teaching in Higher Education (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), as well as over thirty peer-reviewed publications related to learning and teaching in higher education.

  • UM Panel, Critical Perspectives on Student Course Evaluations


    Speakers: Claire Oueslati-Porter, Scotney Evans, Sumita Chatterjee
    Thursday, Mar. 3, 2022

    Join PETAL in a critical conversation on the use and impact of student evaluations of teaching to measure teaching performance, student learning, and instructional best practices. This session features a panel of UM faculty who will identify the ways in which student evaluations of teaching are weakly related to other measures of teaching effectiveness and student learning and can systematically disadvantage faculty from marginalized groups. Special attention will be given to the possible impact of using student evaluations of teaching in making decisions about hiring, contract renewal, promotion, and tenure. UM Faculty will also engage University of Miami’s visions of teaching excellence and provide potential strategies for addressing teaching evaluation issues.

  • Anna Neumann, Convergent Teaching: Tools to Spark Deeper Learning in College


    Speaker: Dr. Anna Neumann, Teachers College
    Thursday, Mar. 25, 2021

    Dr. Anna Neumann, Co-author of Convergent Teaching: Tools to Spark Deeper Learning in College, spoke about the innovative "convergent teaching" approach which looks holistically at the process of learning. Using this approach, college teachers are encouraged to simultaneously attend to students’ prior knowledge, the subject matter, and the social, cultural, and emotional context. Throughout the presentation, Dr. Neumann brought to life the convergent teaching approach by providing examples of some campus-based initiatives that implemented three key guiding principles including, targeting, surfacing, and navigating. Come join us as we offer new ways to support and advance your students’ learning.

    Anna Neumann, Professor of Higher Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, studies teaching in urban colleges and universities, with an eye toward improving first-generation students’ subject-matter learning in first- and second-year courses (in general/liberal education), and in post-graduate work (in law school). In this work, she seeks to illuminate what good teaching means and how it unfolds, how professors learn to teach, and professional development practices and programs for supporting teaching improvement. Neumann’s research, which also examines professors’ intellectual careers, doctoral students’ learning of research, and academic organization and leadership, has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, Review of Higher Education, and others. A Fellow of the American Education Research Association and an elected member of the National Academy of Education, she also is the recipient of her field’s top two research awards: the Research Achievement Award of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the Exemplary Research Award of the American Educational Research Association, Division J (Higher and Postsecondary Education). Neumann is past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. For over a decade she directed the Program in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College where she also served as department chair.

  • Kira Banks, Breakfast w/ Social Justice: Creating a Classroom Climate that¬†Fosters Dialogue


    Speaker: Dr. Kira Banks, Saint Louis University
    Thursday, Mar. 25, 2021

    Dr. Kira Banks has been successfully facilitating difficult dialogues for over 20 years and has been described as making complex and controversial topics accessible and intergroup interactions more understandable. She has done so in schools, communities, institutions of higher education and corporations. In this talk Dr. Banks shared 1) why these dialogues are relevant for any classroom, 2) tips about how to structure them, and 3) advice for what you need to do personally to be most effective. 

    Dr. Kira Banks has been working to support individuals and groups to understand themselves, others and systems of oppression for over 20 years. She co-founded the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity at Saint Louis University, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. Banks’ research examines the experience of discrimination, its impact on mental health and intergroup relations. Her courses have ranged from Abnormal Psychology to the Psychology of Racism. Banks has published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed outlets including American Psychological Association journals such as American Psychologist, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. She has also contributed to The Harvard Business Review and popular media outlets such as The Guardian and The Atlantic.

    Banks’ expertise was sought after and she served as a racial equity consultant for the Ferguson Commission and continued as the Racial Equity Catalyst for Forward Through Ferguson. Her thinking and writing has helped frame racial equity in the St. Louis region. Banks has a podcast, Raising Equity, where she supports adults in talking to kids about systems of oppression and translates psychological concepts for lay people. She believes strongly that research should be useful and can inform our everyday lives.

Recommend a Speaker

Do you have a speaker in mind related to teaching and learning that UM faculty should hear? Please, email your recommendations and we will get back to you!