Course Design Institutes

The Course Development Seminars in Teaching Excellence (STE) and EPIC Summer Institute (ESI) initiatives brought together faculty and graduate students to develop undergraduate courses from fields across the Humanities. Building upon the foundational work of the Mellon-EPIC Fellows from the Collaborative Humanities Track (STE), participants worked collaboratively across disciplines and levels of experience to workshop and produce syllabi for fully designed, ready-to-teach courses.

While the format for each initiative was different, they both emphasized the following learning outcomes:

  • Practice aligning learning outcomes with course activities and assessments
  • Develop/revise an assessment with equity and flexibility in mind
  • Redesign portions of a syllabus to reflect more inclusive, student-centered language
  • Consider active learning techniques to enhance student engagement and understanding
  • Explore tools for providing meaningful feedback and opportunities for soliciting feedback on one’s teaching
  • Practice accessible use of Bruin Learn



The Course Development STE and ESI were developed using a framework emphasizing inclusive and accessible teaching strategies. Click on each link to the right to learn more.

Backward Design
Course design strategy that begins by identifying learning outcomes for students, then works backwards to see how students might demonstrate achievement of these goals through various assessments and learning activities
Equitable Assessments
Instructors design assessments that increase opportunities for learning and inclusivity, especially for under-represented student populations. Strategies include incorporating more lower-stakes assessments, providing a variety of assessments for students to demonstrate their learning, and making sure assessments align with learning outcomes.
Inclusive Syllabus
Participants practice designing syllabi that are learner-focused in addition to content-focused. This includes making the classes more welcoming by valuing students’ backgrounds and lived experiences, creating an environment of care, respect, and inclusion, and using language that is demystifies the academic experience.
Active Learning
Participants learn about different active learning strategies that engage students in the learning process through meaningful learning activities, and about how these strategies can incorporated into their current lesson plans.
Instructors consider options for self-reflection on their teaching, from soliciting student feedback throughout the course to incorporating feedback strategies and reflection into their future teaching.
Participants are encouraged to consider the consequences of inaccessible instruction on student learning, and plan concrete steps for ensuring accessible course design and materials.


Course Development Seminars in Teaching Excellence

The Course Development STEs were a series of quarter-long workshops focusing on innovative and inclusive undergraduate teaching within the Humanities. Each STE was comprised of four faculty members and four graduate students who met as a cohort at least five times over the course of a quarter. STE workshops included:

  • Health & Medical Humanities—Fall 2021
  • Environmental Humanities—Winter 2022
  • Digital Humanities—Spring 2022


EPIC Summer Institute (ESI) on Course Design

The 2022 EPIC Summer Institute (ESI) brought together faculty from the Humanities to participate in a week-long intensive program modeled on the Course Design STE to design their courses ahead of the academic year. The ESI took place September 6 – 9th remotely via Zoom.

Instructors were required to attend multiple daily sessions on topics like Backward Design and Equitable Access, as well as meet with their small groups led by a faculty facilitator to complete and give feedback on assignments. A benefit of attending the ESI is that the instructors got a head start on course design for the upcoming year, had access to resources and teaching materials, and formed connections with a learning community of instructors across the Humanities dedicated to inclusive and equitable teaching.


Inclusive Syllabus Spotlight

All participants from the Course Design STEs were asked to design a brand new syllabus, or update an existing one, based on the framework outlined above. Below are some examples of what they produced.

Crip Theory: Diagnosis and Disability in American Literature

Participant: Vivian Delchamps, graduate student in Department of English

Among its many inclusive components, Vivian’s syllabus for her English 98 course incorporates a Diversity Statement and Statement on Collective Care (page 5); a note about access needs and her fragrance-free classroom policy; and a land acknowledgement with supplemental materials (page 6). View Vivian’s complete syllabus.

English Composition 3: Democracy, Pluralism, and the Public Sphere

Participant: Gabriel Page, faculty in Writing Programs

Check out Page 2 to see how Gabriel incorporates community agreements into his explanation of how to succeed in his English Composition 3 course. View Gabriel’s complete syllabus.

(Re)Defining LA

Participant: Wendy Kurtz, Lecturer and Project Scientist in the Digital Humanities program

Instructor Kurtz’s Digital Humanities 187 course syllabus includes a thorough section on student wellbeing, complete with resources, that uses easy-to-follow language. View Wendy’s complete syllabus here.

Advanced Modern Chinese

Participant: Michelle Smith, Faculty in Asian Languages and Cultures

Michelle Smith’s Advanced Modern Chinese syllabus includes an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging Statement and provides helpful Academic and Wellness Support Resources (pages 5-6). View Michelle’s complete syllabus.

Walking Class: Aligning Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Mind

Participant: Lauri Mattenson, Faculty in Writing Programs

See how Lauri incorporates student voices into her English 5W syllabus (page 2) and prioritizes self-care (page 5). View Lauri’s complete syllabus.