The CIIA is pleased to continue the Innovative Teaching Showcase with the theme: Difficult Conversations. Developed by our advisory board in fall of 2019--and then put on hold during the pandemic, the topic has only become more essential and propitious in 2020-2021.

This year's  “Difficult Conversations,” Showcase seeks to honor faculty who facilitate important conversations in their courses, embracing challenges and promoting communication strategies that both support learning goals and serve students in life beyond college.

Participating in debates and intense discussions can feel uncomfortable, but practice in this area is essential as “students learn to speak in critical and democratic ways by watching people in positions of power and authority model these processes.”1 As we step deeper—in society, at our institutions, and as individuals—into inclusion & equity work, developing the skills and the “art” of engaging in challenging dialogue is essential for progress.

“Sexuality, race, gender, politics, and religion come quickly to mind as difficult topics to discuss, and for many of us they are... Anytime we feel vulnerable or our self-esteem is implicated, when the issues at stake are important and the outcome uncertain, when we care deeply about what is being discussed or about the people with whom we are discussing it, there is potential for us to experience the conversation as difficult.” --Stone, Patton, & Heen, Difficult Conversations (2010)

The Innovative Teaching Showcase is an annual series publication created by the Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment (CIIA) at Western Washington University featuring best practices of Western’s most dynamic instructors.

Each year the Western community nominates WWU instructors who exemplify the Showcase teaching strategy theme.

Showcases include:

  • video interviews
  • portfolio write-up of teaching approach accompanied by syllabi, assignments, examples, comments, and resources
  • alignment to institutional goals

The CIIA Advisory Board reviews nominees for inclusion in each year's Showcase. Selected instructors work with the CIIA to develop the resource through the end of spring term. The published work remains on the site permanently.

Since 1999, the Showcase has featured nearly 70 WWU instructors, and has evolved into a Creative Commons-licensed collection of teaching practices, catalogued in Western Libraries, and followed by a global audience.