Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

Teaching in times of crisis

Volatile political and social issues have erupted on many college campuses over the past few years. Issues such as race, identity, guns, immigration, abortion, and political outlook not only raise passions but pose challenges for instructors, who often have strong views themselves and must lead conversations for which there seems little room for consensus. Students don’t  leave their thoughts and feelings about these topics at the door to the classroom, especially when constant media coverage leaves vivid images fresh in their minds. That can affect the way they engage with the class, so it’s important to at least acknowledge these current events.
A university is a logical place for students to learn how to engage with differing views and to have respectful and productive discussions about emotional or controversial topics. That gives us even more reasons to find ways to bring real world events into our classrooms. The resources on this page are intended to help instructors do that by thinking through approaches to  potentially volatile classroom conversations. They include resources at KU and at other universities intended to help faculty members maintain classroom civility and keep their focus on student learning.
Hot topics. The CTE page on inclusive teaching provides many resources for teaching difficult topics. The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt also offers many great ideas and resources. The Southern Poverty Law Center offers many materials on teaching tolerance. For a good overview of how to handle hot moments in the classroom, see an article by Lee Warren of the Derek Bok Center at Harvard. Such moments, Warren writes, require us as instructors "to manage ourselves so as to make them useful" and "to find the teaching opportunities to help students learn in and from the moment."

Concealed Carry: CTE's list of FAQs on concealed carry and teaching is based on discussions we have had with faculty members. We have also gathered advice on staying safe if conversations turn volatile. Our resources page for handling hot topics in the classroom offers many additional resources. And an article on the CTE blog contains advice from faculty members at other universities on how to teach on a campus with concealed carry.

The University’s Concealed Carry website provides resources, facts, and suggestions about responses to various potential situations. The Office of the Provost has provided a syllabus document that offers language re: the weapons policy. The wording, which covers a handful of academic scenarios, has been reviewed and revised by a small number of faculty, administrators, university governance leaders, and general counsel. It is provided to faculty as a service, but is not required. Faculty who would like to significantly modify these samples are encouraged to share their version with the Office of General Counsel before finalizing their syllabi. KU Public Safety also provides many safety resources on its website.