Dr. Debra Swanson, professor of sociology at Hope College, has been named the college’s faculty liaison to the virtual Center for Teaching and Learning organized by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA).
Established by the GLCA with support from the Teagle Foundation, the consortial center exists not as a physical place but as a community of faculty members committed to improving teaching and learning across all of the GLCA’s colleges. The center seeks to stimulate thinking and foster new approaches to teaching undergraduates by providing access to resources in support of effective pedagogy beyond what any single college can offer.
As Hope’s liaison to the program, Swanson will guide communication and community building between Hope and the program and other participating institutions; advocate and encourage participation by Hope faculty in the center’s work; and coordinate campus visits and engagements involving faculty of other GLCA colleges. Hope’s participation is managed through the office of the associate dean for teaching and learning, Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of religion.
Swanson’s research interests include service-learning and community development, the social construction of mothering, and teaching and learning. Her scholarship includes articles in numerous professional journals as well as a variety of presented papers and addresses.
She joined the Hope faculty in 1989 as a visiting instructor of sociology. Following a one-semester leave, she returned as an assistant professor in the fall of 1994. She was promoted to associate professor in 1996 and full professor in 2006.
Swanson was president-elect of the North Central Sociological Association (NCSA) during the 2015-16 school year, and will be the organization’s president during 2016-17. She has been an active member of the NCSA for more than 20 years, and served as vice president-elect and vice president during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Especially active in the organization’s teaching section, she has made several presentations on teaching during association meetings through the years. The NCSA presented her with its “John F. Schnabel Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award” during its annual meeting in March 2008, and she was the featured keynote speaker during the NCSA’s annual conference in 2009.
She has received a multiple honors for teaching and service, in addition to her 2008 award from the NCSA. In February 2014, she received a Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award from the Michigan Campus Compact. In November 2013, she received the monthly Premier Mentor Award presented to a mentor involved with programs partnered with the Ottawa County Mentoring Collective for her work as a volunteer with the Total Trek Quest running program for elementary-age boys. In January 2009, Hope presented her with a “Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award” in recognition of service to the academic program that included directing the college’s Teaching Enhancement Workshop Committee.
Swanson graduated from Hope in 1983 with a major in sociology. She completed her master’s and doctorate, both in sociology, at Catholic University of America in 1988 and 1995 respectively.
Founded in 1962, the GLCA is a non-profit organization governed by 13 selective liberal arts colleges in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to strengthen and extend education in the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences. GLCA often works conjointly with similar associations of liberal arts colleges to enhance the strength and vitality of member institutions. In addition to Hope, the members of GLCA are Albion, Allegheny, Antioch, Denison, DePauw, Earlham, Kalamazoo, Kenyon, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan, Wabash and the College of Wooster.