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Center for Teaching Excellence

  • Oktoberbest 2024

Oktoberbest: A Symposium On Teaching

Friday, October 25, 2024 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Center for Teaching Excellence is excited to announce that the 15th Annual Oktoberbest: A Symposium on Teaching  will be held on Friday, October 25, 2024 at the University Conference Center. The annual Oktoberbest symposium celebrates teaching success at USC, actively engages attendees in professional development sessions that enhance innovative teaching practices, and establishes and fosters meaningful connections.  The Oktoberbest agenda features engaging sessions, led by your USC colleagues, on innovative approaches to teaching, assessments, course design, and creative student learning opportunities.

All USC faculty, instructors and graduate teaching assistants are invited to attend this one-day event. Oktoberbest is free to all who teach or support teaching at USC, but is not open to the general public. 

Call for Proposals

To submit a proposal to lead a 30-minute professional development session at Oktoberbest 2024, please review the Oktoberbest Call for Proposals (CFP) and submit your application.

Keynote Speaker

Sarah Rose Cavanagh is the Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University, where she also teaches in the Psychology Department as an Associate Professor of Practice. She continues collaborations developed in her postdoctoral years with an ongoing appointment as a Research Associate in the Emotion, Brain, and Behavior Laboratory at Tufts University. Before joining Simmons, she was a tenured Associate Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Assumption University, where she also served in the D'Amour Center for Teaching Excellence as Associate Director for Grants and Research.

Cavanagh's research considers the interplay of emotions, motivation, learning, and quality of life. Her most recent research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, convenes a network of scholars to develop teaching practices aimed at greater effectiveness and equity in undergraduate biology education. She is author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016), HIVEMIND (2019), Emotion and Motivation (4e, with Lani Shiota), and Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge (2023).

Cavanagh gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like Literary Hub and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She’s also on BlueSky too much, at @SaRoseCav.

Keynote and Gallery Walk Workshop Abstract

Hope in a Time of Monsters: Supporting Faculty and Student Mental Health 

Teaching is a vocation. When supported with resources and security, it is a constantly renewing source of excitement and richness. The last several years of disruption, uncertainty, and overburdened workloads have exhausted teachers and students alike. Monsters have reared their heads, and we have understandably shrunk from them. Faculty are burnt out—sacrificing their own mental health, phoning it in out of desperation, or leaving the profession entirely. Students are experiencing an epidemic of mental health problems, especially of anxiety.

As instructors, we can support and encourage student mental health through pedagogies of care. A pedagogy of care involves high-touch practices like frequent communication, flexibility, inclusive teaching practices, learning new technologies and techniques, and being enthusiastic and passionate. All these practices involve both a heavy investment of time and a high degree of emotional labor.

How can we support our students without burning ourselves out? How can we revive our sparks? In this interactive keynote and workshop, Sarah Rose Cavanagh will present some research, food for thought, and practical activities based on her book on how higher education should respond to both faculty depletion and the student mental health crisis.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.