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Washington State University

Roots of Contemporary Issues


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The 2021-2022 academic year saw a return to face-to-face instruction, which brought both opportunities and challenges. RCI faculty continued to support student learning through our collaboration with WSU’s First Year Programs,  Writing Center, and other student support services. The RCI Program continues to focus on student-centered learning and engagement with issues that shape our modern world. 

Our diverse faculty are working in innovative ways to better the program and strengthen our teaching. Last summer and fall, JoAnn LaSavio, RCI program coordinator at the Vancouver campus, and Aaron Whelchel, RCI faculty member, organized a teaching workshop for our faculty.  The Roots of Contemporary Issues Instructor Cohort Workshop Series, funded by the WSU Council on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, launched on May 28, 2021. The purpose was to develop an inclusive peer-to-peer platform and community in which instructors of RCI across the academic hierarchy could collaborate on course elements common throughout the RCI program, share pedagogical resources and experiences, and specifically address contingent faculty concerns and needs. The series’ primary aim was to foster solidarity among RCI instructors, encouraging the sharing of pedagogical tools and diffusing barriers based on professional titles, such as between graduate students and staff, post-docs, adjuncts, instructors, and career- and tenure-track faculty. 

The RCI program has a reputation for providing innovative instructor mentoring, teaching observation, and assessment. This academic year, RCI leadership worked on shifting our assessment model. Funded by the Office of the Provost, our faculty have been working to refine student learning goals, evaluate our teaching goals, and work toward a new embedded-assessment model. In May 2022, faculty attended a workshop to begin mapping our curriculum and implementing the new assessment model. Pilot assessment will occur during the 2022-2023 academic year.  

Each year, thousands of first-year students are enrolled in the RCI program. We are always excited to help them launch their careers at WSU!