Carleton’s Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching (LTC) was created in 1992 by a Faculty-Student Committee with support from the Bush Foundation. Its mission is to facilitate conversations among faculty, staff and students on teaching and learning in the belief that we can enhance the quality of education we provide by sharing our experiences of learning and teaching across disciplinary boundaries and across the span of faculty careers. The LTC is charged with coordinating a range of programs for faculty development; with facilitating exchange of information about our practices, problems, and experiments in classroom teaching; with disseminating among the faculty new information about teaching and learning; and with raising awareness, both in the faculty and in the student body, about how students learn. As the initial proposal imagined it, “the LTC is… a catalyst for conversation among excellent teachers and skilled learners, a way to help new faculty who are already committed and caring teachers adjust smoothly into Carleton classrooms and help them find their own voices and techniques.” (Elizabeth McKinsey, Dean of the College, 1989-2002)

The unique focus of Carleton’s Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching is its emphasis on putting learning first, not only in the Center’s name but also by involving the entire community in its programming. Effectively Carleton’s in-house “think tank” on curricular and pedagogical issues, the LTC hosts weekly programs throughout the year for faculty and staff that raise and address pedagogical, curricular and education policy issues. Student fellows, selected each year by the director of the LTC, serve as student observers providing student-centered feedback to faculty. They are also charged with developing programs for students designed to enhance their understanding of the learning process and so to become more effective learners. Faculty engaged in our workshops, presentations, and panel discussions learn with and from each other on issues vitally important to their teaching. The LTC sponsors and encourages conversations about the scholarship of individuals as well as scholarship on teaching and learning, and serves as a clearinghouse of information for faculty.

LTC activities involve mentoring and other programs for new faculty, consulting services and various workshops and presentations for all faculty on such topics as active learning and leading discussions, ways of giving and getting feedback for assessment of learning, incorporating civic engagement and other high impact practices in courses, and the opportunities and challenges of creating classroom environments that support students with diverse backgrounds. Additional activities include organizing faculty teaching circles, sponsoring faculty scholarship forums, and aiding faculty interested in integrating their scholarly and teaching endeavors. Suggestions for useful workshops or programs are solicited by the Director at the beginning of each term. In addition, the Director is available for individual faculty consultations. This consultation service is confidential and available to faculty at all stages of their careers. The LTC also coordinates the Student Observer Program.

Administratively, the LTC reports to the Provost. The director of the LTC is a tenured faculty member in a half-time position that rotates for a three-year term. Jennifer Wolff is the current director, with Mary Drew serving as assistant to the director. Funded by an endowment from Larry Perlman (Class of 1960), its official name was changed to The Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching in 1999.

Located in the Weitz Center for Creativity, and possessed of a growing library of resources and consulting opportunities, the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching is not so much a place as a metaphor for the mental space it helps create and the conversations that it encourages among and between students and faculty about learning and teaching. You can find more information regarding the Learning and Teaching Center on their website.