Tulane University Names Director of New Learning and Teaching Center

October 14, 2010

Kathryn Hobgood Ray
Phone: 504-865-5229

Tulane University Professor Michael Cunningham, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology with a joint appointment in African & African Diaspora Studies, has been named the executive director of the newly created Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Tulane. The center will act as a hub for all of Tulane’s engaged or “real life” learning, sponsoring research on improving the New Orleans community, providing internships that give Tulane students the opportunity to use classroom knowledge to help solve societal ills in New Orleans and around the world, and supporting student and faculty social entrepreneurship ventures -- businesses with the primary goal of social change.

The center will begin pilot operations in spring 2011.     

“CELT will act as a cache of research opportunities, connecting students and faculty. Furthermore, CELT will facilitate opportunities for students to engage in innovative learning via internships, externships, and social innovation projects that take place both within and outside the classroom,” said Cunningham. “Faculty members, too, will benefit from CELT resources via faculty development seminars associated with best practices for incorporating engaged learning strategies in the classroom. For example, the traditional role of the professor as information-giving lecturer can be supplemented with skills for the professor to engage students’ ideas as a co-investigator and collaborator within engaged learning settings.”

The creation of CELT is formal recognition of a cultural shift toward engagement that has been occurring at Tulane since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. After the storm, Tulane created the Center for Public Service and made public service a requirement of graduation. The creation of CELT recognizes that engaged learning takes place in other forms across the university and addresses the need for coordination of these efforts. CELT will strive to identify opportunities, develop more resources and funding, and streamline administrative procedures for faculty and students.

“The creation of CELT accelerates the process of transformation that, since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, has molded Tulane into a model university for the 21st century -- one that builds bridges between and among scholars and communities,” said Tulane Provost Michael Bernstein.

Cunningham, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a doctoral degree from Emory University, has taught at Tulane for more than ten years.  His research focuses on resilience and vulnerability in African American children and adolescents. Cunningham holds interdisciplinary understanding as a core value of teaching, and encourages students to incorporate in-depth analysis of topics from within and across disciplines as part of their collegiate experience, making him an ideal leader for CELT.    

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000