Susan Witte to Further Anti-Oppression Teaching Initiatives as Provost’s Teaching Scholar

May 3, 2019 @ 9:08 pm
By Janet Young

Professor Susan Witte is one of nine Columbia University faculty members selected to introduce innovations into the culture of teaching and learning at Columbia. 

Susan Witte, whose classroom pedagogy integrates issues of power, race, oppression, and privilege (PROP), has been selected as a member of the inaugural cohort of the Provost’s Senior Faculty Teaching Scholars. University Provost John Coatsworth made the announcement at the 2019 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium, held at Low Library on March 12th. The mission of the new cohort is to foster changes in teaching and learning not only in their own domains but also in a manner that reaches across Columbia.

“I am excited and delighted to receive this honor,” Witte said. “I work with faculty colleagues at the School of Social Work, including Courtney Cogburn, Ovita Williams, and Elwin Wu, who are leading the social work field in the development of critical pedagogy and curricula responsive to anti-oppressive practice. They engage students as a community to think in terms of flipping power dynamics to unseat the status quo.”

Witte joins an increasing number of educators who are asking students to critically analyze and challenge dominant culture and structures, and to apply an anti-oppressive lens.

“As a senior teaching scholar, I hope to bring new resources to the School to continue this work,” she said. “I also hope to train and prepare all faculty to push the boundaries of best practice in teaching critical thinking and undoing racism and other ‘isms’ in the classroom—and ultimately to have our next generation of social workers bring these skills to the field.”

Witte added that she also looks forward to “working with the other senior faculty teaching scholars across campus, too, as we each evolve our agenda.”

Interim Dean Irwin Garfinkel said, “I look forward to seeing Dr. Witte work both within the school and across the Columbia graduate community to explore the integration of issues of PROP and ‘isms’ throughout a variety of curricula.”

The Provost’s Senior Faculty Teaching Scholars will work in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning to develop a year-long plan that aligns their work in this program with the needs of the Columbia teaching community. They will be encouraged to build community among faculty by hosting events at the Center or proposing projects likely to have a sustainable impact on teaching and learning that goes beyond a single course or curriculum.