Harriet Schwartz presents Excellence in Teaching keynote

Harriet L. Schwartz, PhD, presented the Simmons University 2021 Spring Keynote on Excellence in Teaching on April 6, via zoom. Through this interactive keynote session, Dr. Schwartz provided an introduction to Relational Cultural Theory and engaged with Simmons faculty to explore questions such as how do we teach relationally in a pandemic, and what is connected teaching. She also helped faculty consider role and relational clarity in teaching and faculty fatigue. In addition, Dr. Schwartz acknowledged the Simmons University connection with Relational Cultural Theory, noting that Joyce Fletcher, PhD, now a Distinguished Research Scholar at Simmons and a long-time member of the faculty authored “Disappearing Acts: Gender, Power, and Relational Practice at Work” (MIT Press, 1999), the first book to apply RCT to understanding organizations.

Dr. Schwartz will continue her work with the Simmons faculty in early May when she will meet with the Simmons Faculty book club, to discuss “Connected Teaching: Relationship, Power, and Mattering in Higher Education” (Stylus, 2019).

Connected Teaching recommended for student affairs practitioners

I’m thrilled that student affairs practitioners are picking up Connected Teaching! I worked in student affairs for many years before moving over to a faculty track and so I know that my student affairs experience shapes my thinking and practice. I have drawn on Connected Teaching to present staff development programs for student affairs practitioners and they find resonance in this work.

I began my career as an intern in the Smith College career center and then worked as an academic advisor for the mens’ basketball team at the University of Hartford. From there I served as the first director of the career center at Bard College and then went on to work for several years at Carnegie Mellon University, first in the dean of student affairs office and then in the career center.

Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), which is at the core of my work, provides an important foundation for thinking about the heart and soul of student affairs. RCT is a human development theory centered on the idea that we are at our best when we can engage in growth-fostering relationships, that we grow through and in our relationships. Growth-fostering relationships — this is the essence of student affairs!