Dr. Karen Ross, assistant professor in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security & Global Governance, McCormack Graduate School, has won the 2017 UMass Boston Innovation in Online Teaching Award for her efforts in developing and teaching dialogue processes through technology. This is the fourth year this award has been given, joining two other awards for face-to-face teaching and community-engaged teaching. Ross was recognized, along with winners of the other awards, at a ceremony during the luncheon of the University Conference on Teaching, Learning, and Technology on Friday, May 12, 2017.
The online teaching innovation for which Ross was recognized was a long time in the making. After two years of planning and design, including negotiating external partnerships, curriculum integration, and grant funding, this semester Ross taught a hybrid online/in-person class on Facilitation and Dialogue. This skillbuilding course included a practical experiential component facilitating actual dialogues between youth from around the world on contentious issues using the online platform of the internationally-recognized NGO Soliya, with whom Ross has developed a long-term partnership. Since questions of geographic distance, cost, and security are often barriers preventing conflict parties from engaging meaningfully with each other, this innovative approach uses cutting-edge technological approaches to allow students to develop conflict resolution skills working ‘in the field’ even while remaining in Boston. Students have benefited significantly from this type of learning. According to one, “I have found that spending two focused hours with people online in a private, small space has a profound effect on my thinking about the value of virtual relationships and their power to impact others in a variety of ways.”
The Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance celebrates Karen Ross’s achievement, and continues its work to push the boundaries of graduate education in new and exciting ways.