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2022-23 Showcase

The CIIA presents the 2022-23 Innovative Teaching Showcase with the theme: Difficult Conversations. Envisioned in 2019--and then put on hold during the pandemic--this topic has remained timeless and essential in recent years.

2022-23 Showcase: Difficult Conversations

This year's Difficult Conversations-themed 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 helps students develop essential skills as they "learn to speak in critical and democratic ways by watching people in positions of power and authority model these processes" (Brookfield & Preskill, Discussion as a Way of Teaching, 2005). As higher education delves deeper into inclusion and equity work, those who make space in their curriculum for challenging student dialogue give hope for a more civil society. "How do we prepare ourselves and our students to have these wide-ranging, intellectually-challenging, and identity-relevant discussions with students from varying backgrounds?" (Oleson, Promoting Inclusive Classrroom Dynamics in Higher Ed., 2021).

"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 a series publication created by the Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment (CIIA) at Western Washington University featuring best practices of some of Western's most dynamic instructors.

For each edition, the Western community nominates WWU instructors who exemplify the Showcase teaching strategy theme.

Showcases include:

  • video interview excerpts
  • portfolio: write-up of strategy
  • examples: syllabi, assignments, student comments, etc.
  • ideas: a succinct collection of theme-related strategies

The CIIA Advisory Board reviews nominees for inclusion in each Showcase. Selected instructors work with the CIIA to develop the resource. The published work remains on the site indefinitely.

Since 1999, the Showcase has featured nearly 80 WWU instructors. It is a Creative Commons-licensed collection of teaching practices, catalogued in Western Libraries and followed by a global audience.